Species of Textile Pests

Various types of textile pests have been recorded in South Africa. It is mainly the introduced species, which are commonly found in homes or businesses.

Frequently encountered species include:

  • Case-bearing clothes moth
  • Common or webbing clothes moth
  • Varied carpet beetle
  • The Dermested beetles which are known as "hide beetles" of which include the Fur Beetle and the Leather beetle
  • Furniture carpet beetle

Rarely encountered species include:

  • Brown house moth
  • Tapestry moth
  • Black carpet beetle

Learn more below about the different types of textile pests.

Case-bearing Clothes Moth

(Tineo pellionella)


  • Approx. 7-10 mm long.
  • Forewings are silvery-buff with 3 dark spots.


  • Lifecycle completion usually takes 3-8 months.
  • Larva up to 10 mm long when full grown.
  • Creamy white with dark head.
  • Usually protected in case made of silk and fibres of feeding material.


  • Can do extensive damage to woollen items, felts, upholstered furniture, clothes, etc.

Webbing Clothes Moth

(Tineo/a bissellie/lo)


  • Approx. 8-10 mm long.
  • Golden buff in colour.
  • Wings are fringed with no markings.
  • Wingspan about 12 mm.


  • Completes in 3- 8 months.
  • Larva up to 12 mm long when full grown. Often found in a network of silken tubing.


  • Can damage a variety of animal products, including wool,fur, skins, clothing, carpets, upholstered furniture, and felt.
  • Larvae may be difficult to spot as they hide in a network of silken tubing.

Tapestry Moth

(Trichophago tapatzella)

"Trichophaga.tapetzella.mounted" by Sarefo - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trichophaga.tapetzella.mounted.jpg#/media/File:Trichophaga.tapetzella.mounted.jpg


  • Forewings dark at base, outer parts creamy white.
  • Wingspan about 19 mm.


  • Complete in approx. 3-6 months.
  • Larva may grow to about 15 mm long.
  • Prefers coarse materials and constructs silk-lined galleries.


  • Typically attacks old carpets, feltings and the fur and feathers of stuffed animals.
  • Not very common species.

Varied Carpet Beetle

(Anthrenus verbasci)


  • Approx. 2-3 mm long.
  • Mottled yellow, white and black.
  • Oval shape similar to a ladybird.


  • Complete in 9-12 months.
  • Larva up to 4-5 mm long when fully fed.


  • Damages carpets, underfelt, woollens, fur, feathers.
  • Can attack stored items such as cereals and meat products.

Black Carpet Beetle

(Attogenus unicolar)


  • Approx. 3-5 mm long.
  • Shiny black to dark brown, with brownish legs.


  • Completes in 6-12 months.
  • Larva up to 7 mm long when fully fed.
  • Reddish brown covered with stiff bristles.


  • Relatively widespread and destructive.
  • Often associated with bird- nesting in roof cavities.
  • Amongst others, leather, silk, carpet, and felt all at risk of infestation.

Furniture Carpet Beetle

(Anthrenus flavipes)


  • Approx. 2-3.5 mm long.
  • Mottled yellow,white and black markings.


  • Completes lifecycle in 9-12 months.
  • Dark colour larva up to 5 mm long when fully fed.
  • Wide at front, narrow towards the rear.


  • Can do damage to upholstered furniture, carpets and some stored food products.
  • Not as destructive as black and variegated carpet beetles.

Fur Beetle

(Attagenus Pellio)


  • The adult Fur Beetle is 4–6 mm in length, with an elongate oval body shape. This beetle has one small patch of white on each wing case; otherwise it is red–brown to black in colour.
  • The larvae are 6 mm in length and have long orange tufts of hair on the last abdominal segment, and have a banded appearance.
  • The pupa of the Fur Beetle is formed in the last larval skin.


  • Mating of Fur Beetles takes place outdoors, after which they fly indoors to lay eggs.
  • Normally one generation per year, but the development of the Fur Beetle may extend to a period of three years.


  • Fur Beetles are a common inhabitant of birds’ nests.
  • Adults feed outdoors often on Spiraea plants.
  • Larvae attack furs, skins, woolens, etc. and stored grain.

Leather Beetle

(Dermestes Maculatus)


  • The adult Leather Beetle (also called the hide or skin beetle) is 6–10mm in length. The fore wings of the Leather Beetle are dark brown, and its upper side is black, whereas its underside is white. The quantity of white on the underside may vary according to species.
  • Larvae - as with D. lardarius (Larder beetle) - are longer than adults, and are 3-9cm in length, but with an orange stripe running down the length of the back.


  • The lifecycle of the Leather Beetle is 2–3 months.
  • Leather Beetles prefer breeding at temperatures of 18–25°C, with females beetles laying 800 eggs in their lifetime.


  • Both adults and larvae of Leather Beetles feed on raw skins and hides. They also feed on various animal products and dried fish. They pupate in solid material, e.g. wood.
  • Adults fly readily.

Next Steps

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