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It is well known that insect pests often infest kitchens and bathrooms in an effort to seek out food sources and moist conditions. For example, German cockroaches rely heavily on dirty dishes as a food source, and sewer-dwelling American cockroaches sometimes travel through plumbing only to emerge from bathtub and sink drains. Several beetle species infest homes solely to infest pantries where they feed on packaged foods. Several insect pests, like bed bugs and carpet beetles, establish infestations in living rooms and bedrooms, but it is not often that a person hears about closet pests. However, moths, crickets, silverfish, firebrats, beetles and even roaches infest closets where they eat holes in clothing and other textiles.

The insect pests that are most commonly found infesting closets and damaging clothing include several moth and beetle species that are collectively referred to as clothes moths and carpet beetles. Variegated carpet beetles, black carpet beetles and common carpet beetles are three pest species that lay eggs on clothing. Carpet beetle larvae begin feeding on clothing, and other textiles after emerging from their eggs. These pests prefer to lay eggs within dark areas, but they often consume carpeting in illuminated areas of a home. Carpet beetle larvae feed only on animal-based fabrics, such as wool, fur, feathers and down, but they will consume synthetic fabrics if they become hungry enough. However, only animal-based fabrics provide the insects with the nourishment they need during maturation. The tiny larvae of case-bearing moths will feed on both synthetic and animal-based clothing, while the larvae of webbing clothes moths feed only synthetic clothing. This larval species will feed on clothing items for a period lasting from 6 months to 2 years, making infestations costly. While cockroaches and crickets do not commonly infest closets, both of these insect groups are attracted to sweaty clothes. Roaches and crickets will eat away at clothing stains made by body-fluids, beverages, foods, and even laundry starch. This is also the case when it comes to clothing damage inflicted by both firebrats and silverfish. Firebrats are particularly attracted to cotton, linen and rayon, while silverfish have a taste for silk.

Have you ever found mysterious holes in clothing kept in closets or hampers?