Discover everything you need to know about moths in our guide below.
What Are Moths?
Moths are insects in the order Lepidoptera. There are about 160,000 species of moths worldwide and an estimated 11,000 in the US. While moths are closely related to butterflies, they have threadlike or feathery antennae, compared to the club-tipped antennae of butterflies.
The Behavior, Diet, and Habits of Moths
Moths live all over the world and in a variety of climates. In the US, they appear each year as the weather warms up in the early spring and summer months.
Like butterflies, moths go through four key life stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult. Adult moths lay eggs on plants or materials the hatching larvae (caterpillars) eat. When the eggs hatch, the larva starts to eat and grow right away.
Many caterpillars shed their skin up to five times before pupating. During this phase, the larvae sheds its skin one last time, forms a chrysalis, and becomes an adult moth within this protective casing.
Adult moths consume various foods, including flower nectar and juices from fresh fruit. Some moths never feed at all since they only survive as adults for a few days.
What Damage Do Moths Cause?
Different species of moths cause different kinds of damage. Pantry moths damage stored food items, like grains, pasta, and flour. These pests hide inside packaged products and can quickly infest entire cupboards of food.
Other species, like clothes moths, damage animal fibers, including silk, wool, feathers, suede, and fur. In severe cases, moth damage can cause hundreds of dollars of damage to residential wardrobes by leaving holes in clothes, blankets, rugs, and furniture.
Aside from property damage, moths can also cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks in people with respiratory sensitivities and may cause some people to experience eczema, rashes, and itchiness.
How to Get Rid of Moths
To get rid of moths, conduct a comprehensive inspection of your home, including your carpets, clothing, and closets. Next, clean and store all susceptible items, including suede, fur, feathers, and leather.
If you’re keeping susceptible items in your home, storing them with cedar mothballs or inside cedar-lined closets and chests can help keep moths away.
For additional protection, apply residual insecticides or hire a professional pest management company for extra help.
Moth infestations can be brought in from outside via infested food items, clothing, or textiles. Once the eggs or larvae inside the infested items are inside your home, the insects will pupate and hatch, and you’ll find yourself with a full-blown moth infestation
While mothballs are a common moth control method, the active ingredient (naphthalene) gives off noxious fumes that can be dangerous if you inhale or are exposed to them. Because of this, it’s important to use mothballs very carefully if you’re going to use them in your home.