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Where to Look for Fabric Pests

clothes moth
Clothes moths and other fabric pests aren't found only in wool clothing and carpets
Photo from USDA

Look Beyond Wool Clothes and Carpets

Fabric pests such as clothes moths, carpet beetles, and hide beetles are found not only in woolen clothing and carpets. They can be found infesting almost anything made of animal materials such as feathers, furs, pet hair, even brush bristles, animal nests and accumulations of dead insects. To do a thorough inspection, think beyond the obvious.

  • Ask about woolen clothing, blankets, down pillows or comforters, or rugs that have been stored or unused for some time. Woolens that were not dry-cleaned before storage are most susceptible to infestation. Occasionally cotton, linen, silk, rayon and other fabrics may be infested if soiled.
  • Look for old, overstuffed chairs or sofas. If these have woolen fabric covers, are stuffed with animal hair, or have accumulations of pet hair, they could be the source of fabric pests.
  • Ask where the pets sleep. Look for accumulations of pet hair in these areas or pet bedding that is matted with pet hair.
  • Use a knife or small spatula to pull out bits of lint from under baseboards, the edges of wall-to-wall carpeting, and around the bottoms of door thresholds. Check the underside of wool rugs.
  • Check for accumulations of lint, crumbs, and pet hair under heavy furniture, under beds, in dark corners, and in closets. Look for accumulations of lint and hair inside floor registers, air ducts, and clothes dryer vents.
  • cat with dead mouse
    Fabric pests can be found in rodent carcasses, animal nests, and in accumulations of hair where pets rest.
    Photo © Pinto & Associates
    Ask if there have been problems lately with mice, rats, birds, bats, squirrels or other animals inside the house or in attics, garages, chimneys, basements. Check these areas, if accessible, for evidence of carpet or hide beetles on animal carcasses and in animal nests. Check attics for wasp nests or accumulations of dead insects such as cluster flies.
  • Look for animal-based decorative objects on shelves or hanging on walls--items such as animal trophies, oriental rugs, anything made of wool, horn, hide, feathers, or bone.
  • Finally, check other possible infestation sites: piano felts or felt backing, insect collections, dried flower arrangements, natural bristle hair or clothes brushes, fur coats, bee or yellowjacket nests inside wall voids, and horsehair insulation behind old plaster. Carpet beetles can also be found infesting stored food products, seeds (including seed pictures), pet food, and rodent bait.
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