Unlike pantry pests, the fabric subset of SPP typically infest and damage animal-derived textiles. They feed on keratin, which is a protein found in wool, fur, feathers, silk, hair and horns. Clothing and carpets come to mind, but pet hair, birds’ nests, taxidermy, upholstery and natural-bristle brushes are also possible sources. Typically, fabric pest adults and/or the damage are spotted. Yet it’s the larval stage that does the eating.
One of the most common fabric pests is the webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella). Its larvae spin silk tunnels to feed in, which are visible.
The casemaking clothes moth (T. pellionella) is less common, and more often found in the southern U.S. The larvae encase themselves in silk, but generally do not leave silk visible on infested goods. These larvae are drawn to “dirty” textiles soiled with sweat, body oils or food stains.
Carpet beetles (Anthreninae) eat textiles, but also feed on dried plants and other proteins. The adults are the best way to identify the species, so you know what type of goods to look for to find the source.
Many sprays will kill the beetles on contact. Silica dust brushed into cracks and creases provides long-term protection. Insect growth regulators (IGRs) can be helpful; botanical blocks that can fumigate smaller enclosed spaces can be, too.