Phereoeca allutella

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Household case-bearing moth
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Division: Ditrysia
Family: Tineidae
Subfamily: Tineinae
Genus: Phereoeca
Species: P. allutella
Binomial name
Phereoeca allutella
(Rebel, 1892)

Tinea allutella (Rebel, 1892)
Tinea verna Meyrick, 1924
Tineola allutella Rebel, 1892
and see text

The household case-bearing moth (Phereoeca allutella) belongs to the subfamily Tineinae of the fungus moth family (Tineidae). It is an occasional pest of furs, flannel and similar materials, and has been inadvertently introduced to many places it is not originally native to.[1]


The wingspan is 10–13 mm for females and 7–9 mm for males. Adults are grey with one to four black spots on the forewings, and a fringe of scales along the posterior margin of the hind wings. When at rest, the wings are held tented over the body.

In the male genitals, the clasper's harpe tapers from the base, but is generally slender, with a conspicuous swelling on the basal third of the costal part which distinguishes this species. The gnathos is formed by two slim and curved parts; the uncus is likewise long and slim; it abruptly truncates at the end. The vinculum is broad, with a large slender saccus; the tegumen is elongated. The anellus is generally not sclerotized (hardened), and the aedeagus is somewhat more robust than the other organs, though not large, curves slightly, and is somewhat expanded near the tip. In the female genitals, the ostium is long and situated above two sclerotized horn-like swellings. The antrum is strongly sclerotized, with the ductus seminalis attaching slightly before it. The ductus bursae is delicate, with no conspicuous ornaments or structures, as is the bursa copulatrix; a signum is lacking.[1]

Distribution and ecology[edit]

It has been recorded from Panama, the Canary Islands and Madeira, Sierra Leone and perhaps elsewhere in Africa, the Seychelles, India, Java, and the Hawaiian Islands, Samoa and the Marquesas Islands (at least on Hiva Oa) in the Pacific. A record from Sri Lanka is more dubious; these individuals were described as a distinct species (Tinea pachyspila), but seem to be either P. allutella or the closely related and very similar plaster bagworm (P. uterella), which is sometimes also referred as "household casebearer".[2]

The larvae feed on a variety of dead materials, including dead insects and animal hair. Feeding takes place from within a case. These larval and pupal cases have been found on the outside walls and inside of non-air-conditioned buildings and are most abundant under spiderwebs, in bathrooms and bedrooms. Possibly, the species may be associated with mammals other than man. The larval case of this species is flat, spindle-shaped in outline, open at both ends, silk-lined inside, and covered with sand and other small particles outside. It is constructed by the first instar larva soon after hatching and is enlarged by each successive instar, and after special modification, is used for pupation. Fully formed cases are 8–13 mm long and 3–5 mm wide.


  1. ^ a b Clarke (1986)
  2. ^ Clarke (1986) contra Robinson [2011]


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