Tinea pellionella Linnaeus, 1758
Case-Making Clothes Moth
(one synonym : Phalaena zoolegella Scopoli, 1763)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Tinea pellionella
(Photo: courtesy of Entomart)

The Caterpillar is off-white with a dark brown head, and a split dark brown shield on its prothorax. The caterpillar lives in a silk case covered in fibres from its food items. The caterpillar is a pest, and is thought to feed on anything containing keratin, such as

  • wool,
  • feathers,

    but is also reported to feed on

  • stored vegetable produce, and
  • wallpaper.

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 1 cm.

    Tinea pellionella
    case with skin of extruded pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Entomart)

    It pupates in its case, and extrudes the pupa just before the adult moth emerges.

    Tinea pellionella
    (Photo: courtesy of Entomart)

    The adult moth is has forewings that are pale brown speckled with grey and black. Each forewing has three vague dark spots. The hindwings are off-white, shading to fawn along the costas. The wingspan is about 1 cm.

    Tinea pellionella
    (Photo: courtesy of Jean-Francois Landry and Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The species is found as several subspecies all over the world, including

  • Belgium,
  • Japan,
  • New Zealand,
  • U.K., and
  • U.S.A..

    This species was unfortunately introduced into Australia by accident, now being found over much of the country, including

  • Queensland,
  • Australian Capital Territory, and
  • Tasmania.

    Further reading :

    Densey Clyne,
    The Best of Wildlife in the Suburbs,
    Oxford University Press Australia 1993, pp. 125-128.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Edition 10, Volume 1 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 536, No. 254.

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 42.

    Gaden S. Robinson & Ebbe S. Nielsen,
    Tineid Genera of Australia,
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Volume 2,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 1993, pp. ix, x, 10, 246-252, 263, 279.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 3 February 2009, 11 December 2017, 14 August 2019, 21 April 2022)