Most people see moths as the pesky insects that flit around a bright light on their patios at night. Once they make their way into your home, they can become real pests and leave behind holes in your clothes and ruin the food in your pantry. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent these pesky creatures from damaging items in your home. Here we explore what moths are, what they look like, where they’re most commonly found, and steps you can take to control and prevent moth infestations at your residence.
What Are Moths?
Moths are a member of a paraphyletic group of insects that include various other species in the order Lepidoptera except for butterflies. There are an estimated 160,000 species of moths, but many have yet to be identified and named. Most moths are nocturnal, or are active at night and sleep during the day. However, some moth species are diurnal, or active in the daytime.
Like with other members of the Lepidoptera order, moths go through four life stages: egg, larva (when they are a caterpillar), pupa (the chrysalis stage), and adult (imago). Most moth species eat plants, and the moth larvae, or the caterpillar stage of a moth, can cause significant damage to shrubs and trees.
While there are thousands of moth species throughout the world, the most common moths that cause problems among homeowners include brown house moths, pantry moths, and clothes/carpet moths. Other species of moths found in the United States include buck moths, almond moths, fall webworms, gypsy moths, Indian meal moths, Mediterranean flour moths, and webbing clothes moths.
What Do Moths Look Like?
While each moth species will vary in its appearance, most moths share a few similar attributes that make them easy to distinguish among other flying insects. Moths usually have two pairs of wings that are covered in scales. The color of moths varies greatly, with the most common moths found in homes being gray or light to dark brown.
The following are more specific attributes of the most common moths found in households:
Clothes moths: Around 3/8 inches in length and a cream body color.
Indian meal moths: Around 5/8 inches in length, a gray center, and reddish-brown color around the edges of the body.
Mediterranean flour moths: Around 5/8 inches in length, black lines across the wings, pale gray wings.
Brown house moths: Between 8 and 14 millimeters in length and a bronze-to-brown body color with black or dark brown flecks on the wings.
Most moths that infest homes are relatively small with less than 2-centimeter wingspans.
Where Are Moths Found?
Moths can be found throughout the world, and more than 12,000 species are believed to reside in the United States alone. Various species of moths are present in all states across the nation, including Michigan, Utah, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana.
Moths are most prominently seen hovering around bright lights at night. But, once they find their way into your home, they’re drawn to dark and secluded areas where they can lay eggs and find food (like in your pantry). Moths may also gather and lay eggs in other areas of your home, including in cracks, under appliances like the kitchen sink, and close to plumbing fixtures.
Problems Associated With Moths
While moths aren’t harmful to humans, they can be quite bothersome once they’ve entered your home and staked a claim in your pantry or another dark area where they can lay eggs. The most common problems associated with moths in the home include:
Ruined food, including flours, spices, nuts, grains, and chocolate.
Infested clothing and upholstery items.
Contribution to airborne allergens.
Damage to carpets and rugs.
Additionally, adult moths present a problem in that they have the potential to lay eggs that can result in hundreds of moth larvae in the home.
Moth Control and Prevention
There are several steps you can take to help control and prevent moth infestations in your residence. To keep moths out of your home, consider these tips:
Brush your clothing after wearing it outdoors. If you’ve worn clothing made of fur or wool outside, be sure to brush or scrape it before putting it back into your closet. Moths often lay eggs on clothes, linens, and other materials, so brushing your clothes off before putting them back into your closet can help prevent larvae from getting into your home.
Store your clothes and other belongings in containers. If you have clothes that you don’t wear on a regular basis, consider storing them in airtight containers to prevent moths from laying eggs in them.
Keep storage areas dry. Moths are attracted to moist locations, so ensuring that your garage, basement, pantry, and other dark areas are dry can help keep moths away.
To get rid of moths already in your home, try these tips:
Lay moth traps. There are various moth traps available that you can purchase, or you can make your own using a sticky substance like tape and covering it with moth pheromones. Once the moths get stuck to the trap, they can’t move and will die.
Spray cedar oil. Cedar oil repels moths and other insects, so regularly spraying cedar oil throughout your home, especially in areas where moths are likely to hide, is a good way to help prevent an infestation.
Regularly dust and vacuum. Dust and dirt can draw moths to your home, so regularly vacuuming and dusting throughout your house is a good way to prevent moths from coming in and staying. Make sure to empty your vacuum bag and wash dust cloths after each cleaning to prevent eggs from hatching and larvae from growing into adult moths.
Hire a professional pest exterminator. A pest control service is a good option if you feel that a moth infestation has gotten out of control in your home.
If you’re dealing with a moth infestation and aren’t sure what to do, reach out to Bulwark Exterminating today. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have and see if our services can help your situation.