European House Moth
by Alain VanRyckeghem, BCE
In the past few years we have seen a trend with homeowners, especially from NY, NJ, PA, CT and MA, catching a different kind of moth on Insects Limited’s Webbing Clothes
moth pheromone baited trap. These new darker moths are being primarily caught in the months of June to August.
The dark colored moths are Browndotted Clothes Moth, (Niditinea fuscella) which is also known as the European House Moth in other parts of the world, or the close relative (Niditinea orleansella) which is native to North America.
Adults of this small moth have a wingspan of 14 mm (5/8 in). Their forewings range in color from a dull brown-grey to shiny gold flecked-brown and bear three large blackish-brown dots each. The base of the forewing is also marked with a dark spot or band. The hind wings are a silvery white; they are surrounded by a long-haired fringe, as usual for fungus moths in the family Tineidae. The body is dull brown, and the head bears a tuft of reddish-brown or brown-grey hair.
It is widespread and common in much of western Eurasia and North America. The adult moths fly during May to September, depending on the location; they are not fond of bright
daylight and will only come out in the late afternoon and night.
The caterpillars of these two moths feed on dry animal and plant remains. Despite the species’ common name, they are rarely recorded as a pest of clothing. It is not likely that
these larvae will feed on clean dry woolen clothing or rugs. Woolen rugs in poor conditions such as damp basements may be susceptible to attack. They are more commonly found in bird nests – particularly of chicken, domestic pigeon, and swallows, where they feed on shed feathers and feces. These moths have been found on taxidermy mounts feeding on feathers, and in insect cultures feeding on dead bodies and frass. They are scavengers of grain or soybean dust in damp dark buildings. The larvae may also feed on organic litter in wooded areas, farm buildings such as poultry houses or feeding on fungus growth in mulch around homes.
The severe heat and drought of the past few years has likely forced the moths to seek cooler damper locations in air conditioned home by accessing chimneys, and gaps
in doors and windows of garages or the main structure. Once inside the structure they are strongly attracted to the pheromone of the webbing clothes moths. These captures often alarm the homeowner as hundreds may be caught in a few nights.