Tinea pellionella

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Case-bearing clothes moth
Tinea pellionella02.jpg
Case with pupal skin (above)
Adult moth (below)
Tinea pellionella E-MK-17524a.jpg
Scientific classification
T. pellionella
Binomial name
Tinea pellionella

Several, see text

Tinea pellionella, the case-bearing clothes moth, is a species of tineoid moth in the family Tineidae, the fungus moths. It is the type species of the genus Tinea, which in turn is the type genus of the subfamily, family, as well as the superfamily Tineoidea.[1][2][3] Its scientific name is derived from "tinea", a generic term for micromoths, and the Latin term for a furrier, pellionellus.

This species has a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring nearly worldwide.[4] It is synanthropic; the adult is typically encountered during summer and early autumn, but populations that live in human dwellings may be seen at other times of the year.[5]

Tinea pellionella is silvery grey to shiny light brown in color, with dark grayish hairs on the top of its head.[6] The adult of this species has a wingspan of 9 to 16 millimeters. Its forewings are grizzled brown with one large spot and a few smaller, indistinct black spots. The hindwings are plain pale brown-grey. The forewings, but especially the hindwings are surrounded by a hairy fringe. The larva eats mainly fibrous keratin, such as hairs and feathers. It can become a pest when it feeds on carpets, furs, upholstery, and woolen fabrics. It also consumes detritus, cobwebs, bird nests (particularly of the domestic pigeon), stored vegetable produce and wallpaper. It stays inside a snug case it constructs from debris such as fibers and hairs.[5][7]

Control measures for the case-bearing clothes moth are similar to those for the common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella), and include physical, chemical, and biological measures.

Being a widespread species and often affiliated with humans, T. pellionella was among the first moths to be scientifically described in the modern sense. At that time most moths were included in a single genus "Phalaena", but Tinea was already recognized as a distinct subgenus. Some later researchers who studied this moth erroneously believed they had discovered populations formerly unknown to science and described them as new species, but today these are all included within T. pellionella. Obsolete scientific names for this moth thus may be encountered in the literature, and include:[8]

  • Phalaena (Tinea) pellionella Linnaeus, 1758
  • Phalaena zoolegella Scopoli, 1763
  • Tinea demiurga Meyrick, 1920
  • Tinea gerasimovi Zagulajev, 1978
  • Tinea pelliomella (lapsus)


  1. ^ Pitkin, B. and P. Jenkins. (2004). Tinea. Butterflies and Moths of the World. Natural History Museum, London.
  2. ^ Species Tinea pellionella Linnaeus, 1758. Australian Biological Resources Study. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Australian Government.
  3. ^ Tinea pellionella Linnaeus, 1758. Fauna Europaea. Version 2.4, 2011.
  4. ^ Cheema, P. S. (1956). Studies on the bionomics of the case-bearing clothes moth, Tinea pellionella (L.) Bulletin of Entomological Research 47(1), 167-82.
  5. ^ a b Kimber, I. Case-bearing Clothes Moth, Tinea pellionella. UKMoths. 2013.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Grabe, A. (1942). Eigenartige Geschmacksrichtungen bei Kleinschmetterlingsraupen ("Strange tastes among micromoth caterpillars"). Zeitschrift des Wiener Entomologen-Vereins 27: 105-09. (in German)
  8. ^ Tinea pellionella. Global Taxonomic Database of Tineidae (Lepidoptera). Natural History Museum, London.

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