Did your city make the clothes moth list?


February 14, 2020

Editor’s Note: This clothes moth list originally appeared in Insects Limited’s newsletter, “Fumigants & Pheromones.” Sign up for the mailing list here. 

Insects Limited, Westfield, Ind., has released its ranking of the Top 15 U.S. cities for clothes moths.

This is the third year in a row that Insects Limited has released a list of cities with clothes moth problems. The list of top cities was compiled based on the total number of sales of clothes moth pheromone traps in greater metropolitan areas of each ranked city during the period of Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2019.

For 2019, the Top 4 cities for clothes moths remain unchanged: New York, N.Y.; Boston, Mass.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Los Angeles, Calif. Minneapolis, Minn., moved up two spots to get the final spot in the Top 5.

The state of Texas made big leaps this year, as Dallas moved up from 11th place to 7th place, and Houston joined the list, ranking 11th. Atlanta, Ga., dropped off the list entirely.



The rankings are as follows:

  1. New York City
  2. Boston
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Minneapolis
  6. Chicago
  7. Dallas
  8. San Francisco
  9. Denver
  10. Santa Fe
  11. Houston
  12. Washington, D.C.
  13. Cleveland
  14. Seattle
  15. Albuquerque

The densely populated northern portion of the East Coast, from Maine to Washington, D.C., accounts for more than 70 percent of the clothes moth sales for the entire country. The East Coast takes the Top 3 rankings with New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

Los Angeles, Calif., remained steady at the No. 4 spot. Denver, Colo., tied with Dallas by moving up four spots from 13th to 9th. Washington, D.C., moved on the list the most overall, dropping from the fifth spot to the 12th. Chicago, Ill., moved up two rankings to No. 6.

No state has more than two cities on the list. Texas has both Dallas and Houston; California has Los Angeles and San Francisco; and New Mexico has Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) appear to be on the rise in many metropolitan areas. Research suggests the webbing clothes moth does not come into homes and businesses from natural reservoirs (e.g. bird nests, dead animals), but instead travels from person to person1.

This type of behavior is called synanthropic, which means the clothes moths benefit from an association with humans and habitats humans create. As we pass along wool rugs, blankets, sweaters, fur coats and feather pillows, etc. to family members, friends or other means of trade, we also move the moths from location to location.

Knowing what to look for is essential in identifying clothes moth activity. Finding and eliminating moths early in an infestation can prevent years of battling these pests if they get out of control. Pheromone traps can help with identifying and locating problems, but knowing the telltale signs of the frass and webbing from the larvae eating the clothing and rugs can prove extremely valuable in early detection.

Resource: 1Krüger-Carstensen, B., & Plarre, R. (2011). Outdoor trapping and genetical characterization of populations of the webbing clothes moth Tineola bisselliella (Lepidoptera: Tineidae) in the broader area of Berlin. Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research, 43(2), 129-135.

Pat Kelley

Pat Kelley, BCE

Pat Kelley, BCE, is president of Insects Limited. Read more about how his Westfield, Ind.-based company helps museums across the globe identify, treat for and prevent pests using integrated pest management strategies, here.



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