We tested two hypotheses: 1) that there is semiochemical-mediated attractio
n of male and female webbing clothes moth (WCM), Tineola bisselliella (Hum.
) (Lepidoptera: Tineidae) to suitable larval habitat, and 2) that selection
of optimal larval habitat has fitness consequences. In binary or ternary c
hoice arena bioassay experiments that prevented WCM from contacting test st
imuli, males and females were attracted to dried but untanned animal pelts
(red squirrel, muskrat, beaver, coyote, red fox and bobcat) and preserved h
orseshoe crab but not to unprocessed sheep's wool, demonstrating semiochemi
cal-based recognition of, and discrimination between, potential larval habi
tats. Selection of habitat has fitness consequences for ovipositing females
, because significantly more male and female WCM completed development when
the larval diet consisted of intact animal pelt (hide plus hair) rather th
an hide or hair alone. Equal attraction of male WCM to muskrat pelt volatil
es in Porapak Q or solvent extracts of muskrat pelts indicated that volatil
e semiochemicals could be obtained by both methods.