Please could you advise how I should tell the difference between clothes moths and wax moth larvae. I thought I had a local infestation of clothes moths during last summer but now gather that these may be wax moth larvae as they are below a carpet which is above a bumblebee nest under my floorboards. They did comparatively little actual damage to the carpet (which I destroyed) and were in tight silk tubes in the grooves between the floorboards, which I thought was characteristic of clothes moths.
Message was edited by: elaphe
I have found a moth which may or may not be related to this query, it is similar to but maybe slightly smaller than moths around last year a bit later than this. About 15-16 mm from nose to folded wing tips. Picture attached - is this a wax moth, a clothes moth or something different please?
The caterpillars you describe do sound very much like wax moths or bee moths. The caterpillars of wax and bee moths are much larger and fatter than those of clothes moths, and do not feed on fabrics. However they can turn up under carpets as you have discovered! There are some pictures of the larvae of bee and wax moths here - http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3766 and here - http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=3570.
Fully grown clothes moth caterpillars are much smaller and thinner than fully grown bee or wax moth caterpillars (up to 12mm at most). Common clothes moth caterpillars produce a fine webbing around the area they are feeding, but this looks very different to the thick strong silk tubes produced by bee and wax moth caterpillars which are usually a few centimetres long. Case bearing clothes moths do make distinct cocoons, but theses are constructed from what they have been feeding on rather than from silk.
I have attached some fact sheets on these species with more information.