Linking webbing clothes moths to infested objects or other food sources in museums

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Pascal Querner;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number sup1, p.111-117 (2016)


The webbing clothes moth Tineola bisselliella (Hummel, 1823) is one of the most common museum pests and can be found all over the world. The larvae damages objects made of feather, wool, fur, and other keratinaceous materials. Pheromone traps are important tools in integrated pest management, which allow the detection of infestations and evaluation of their extent. Organic-rich dust (detritus) or other materials of animal origin, such as dead birds, can be an alternative food source for the moths. This paper analyzes monitoring data collected with pheromone traps from six different museums in Vienna and Berlin and tries to differentiate between moths resulting from infested objects or moths coming from other food sources, such as organic-rich dust. Annual totals of moths trapped and catch rate (moths per trap) are important guides for selecting appropriate remedial measures. Long-term data (over six years) enabled us to interpret monitoring results and differentiate between active infestation of objects and cleaning or housekeeping problems. However, detailed knowledge of the site and buildings, availability of high-quality food for the larvae, and lack of regular cleaning are also important factors to consider when interpreting the data.