Moths belong to the Order Lepidoptera, which includes butterflies, and there are about 160,000 moth species, with many yet to be formally classified. A few known are the Atlas moth, Sphinx moth, Luna moth, Gypsy moth, Owlet, and Giant moth species.
During the summer, moths fluttering about your front entrance light is a common sight. The dusty wings quiver of the nocturnal insects as they consider whether to approach or avoid the lighting.
Have you ever wondered what does a moths eat since you mainly see them at night?
Moths eat a wide variety of foods, and it can comprise plant leaves and blossoms, although certain species prefer a different diet. Caterpillar moths, for instance, eat seeds, fruit, and animal products such as hair and beeswax. The carnivorous ones eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
The idea that moths are voracious eaters of clothing isn’t accurate since most of their damage comes from being in their larvae stage. Clothes moth larvae can consume almost any natural or animal fiber. (Read Can Pigs Eat Tomatoes)
In our guide, you can learn more about what do moths eat in the house, because once you know this, you can learn how to reduce their numbers. By the end, you’ll have enough information on how to deal with a moth infestation and save things in your pantry or your closet.
What Are Moths?
Sadly, the moth has a limited life cycle, yet these nocturnal pollinators are frequently found sitting on the side of your home near a light source.
Moths are often seen as the underdogs of the majestic butterfly species. While they both flutter beautifully on the wing, they differ. So, how does a moth vary from a butterfly?
The moth is a polyphyletic insect group that contains all members of the order Lepidoptera. The fungus moth (Tineidae) and the webbing clothes moth (Tineidae) are common North American moths.
Moths differ from butterflies in various ways. Moths sleep open-winged, while butterflies sleep closed-winged. In contrast to moths, butterflies have long and slender antennae. Butterflies feed in the day while moths are nocturnal, mostly.
Moths help the ecosystem. They pollinate flowers and produce seeds, yet sadly, moths provide food for many insects, frogs, birds, bats, and other creatures.
A Moth’s Life-Span
The habitats of moths are varied. They are found in marshes, gardens, dunes, and mountain peaks; therefore, their life cycle is surprising. The embryonic stage of a moth’s life cycle occurs inside the female’s eggs.
To provide sustenance for the larvae, the female looks for a place to lay eggs. After laying 50 eggs in two weeks, a female dies. (Read Can Dogs Eat Mint Leaves)
The larval or caterpillar stage is the second stage of moth development. Its protein- and the nutrient-rich shell is the first thing they eat when they emerge from it. It eats 2,700 times its weight throughout this time.
The third cycle is the pupal stage which follows the larval stage. Caterpillar pupae become adult moths within a cocoon at this stage. The pupa stage is also called a chrysalis, and the larvae use all the food they eat to convert at this stage.
The moth then enters the imaginal stage, which lasts about a week, where adult moths emerge from their cocoons.
After the lengthy procedure, the moth cannot fly for several hours. Moths can live anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the species.
If you wonder what eats moths? They are eaten by birds, spiders, and many other garden predators.
What Do Moths Eat Naturally?
Unlike spiders, ants, and other insects, it is difficult to determine what moths eat. It also differs based on species, although here, you can understand what adult moths eat.
Moths are diverse creatures that feed on nectar from night-blooming flowers. Adults gain a tube-like mechanism called a proboscis to feed on nectar, sap, keratin, and droppings.
If you ask, do moths eat clothes? You might encounter a few different species nibbling on the natural fibers found in woolen garments and soft cashmere. Two such species are Tineola bisselliella, or clothes moths, and Tinea pellionella, or case-making clothes moths.
Adult moths lack the mouthparts required to consume lint from your clothing. Instead, the moth larvae’s voracious hunger is performing the feeding, where the textile pests chewing organs can eat through anything.
A Cherry Dagger species of moth, for example, will eat only cherry trees, and The Common Oak Moth eats oak trees.
Harvester butterfly adults may puncture the bodies of woolly aphids with their short proboscis (tongue) and consume their juices.
If you wonder what do white moths eat, adult butterflies and moths, with few exceptions, most species ingest only liquids to maintain their water balance and energy storage. Most adults drink flower nectar, but others drink tree sap, rotting fruits, bird droppings, or animal dung.
What Do Moths Eat in Your Home?
Pantry moths, as well as webbing and case-making moths, are the most prevalent moth infestations you’ll find in your home.
What do moths eat in the home if they usually feed on flowers? Pantry moths, as you might expect, are drawn to dry foods kept in the kitchen. The adult moth will lay eggs on cereals, dried pasta and rice, bread, seeds, and cake mixes.
Webbing and case-making moths love the fibers found in textiles. These moths can be found in clothing, curtains, furniture, and linens. Clothes moths are attracted to wool, cashmere, silk, and even lint.
Clothes moths are a type of moth that eats natural fibers for keratin, a structural protein. We wish to highlight that an adult clothing moth is not eating your shirts and sweaters.
The female clothing moth will deposit between 50 and 1,000 eggs on a garment made of a food source for moth larva.
What do moths eat exactly? Most moth species you see eat nothing. Although, the clothes moth larvae eat anything in their way. It’s only a matter of time after adult moths lay eggs before the larval moths’ eggs hatch. The things called caterpillars emerge and start eating food to grow.
Natural animal fibers are eaten by clothes moth larvae, while pantry moth larvae eat cereals and dry baking ingredients.
If moths have been discovered in your home, the next step is to figure out how to get rid of them. Getting rid of carpet moths differs from getting rid of clothes and pantry moths.
What Kills Moths
You can find several ways of killing moths in your closet before moth eggs are laid by adults. Also, the same thing you use to kill flying insects is what kills moths naturally.
- Moth Trap
- Flypaper or Mouse glue trap
- Fish oil
- Clothes hanger
- If you discover adult moth evidence, dab some fish oil onto a flypaper sheet.
- Hang this in your closet.
- Alternatively, apply fish oil to a sticky mouse trap sheet and fasten it to a clothes hanger with clothespins.
How to Deal With Moths in The Closet
The webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliell) and the casemaking clothes moth (Tineola bisselliell) are the two types of clothes moths found globally (Tinea pellionella).
Natural fibers found in clothing, carpet, draperies, upholstery, and bedding are eaten by both types of moths. Wool, silk, cotton, and any other natural fiber they may locate are all eaten by them.
Moths will devour pet fur or chew through synthetic materials to burrow into natural fibers underlying if they run out of clothing fibers.
The larvae hatch in four to ten days, depending on the temperature. Warm temperatures promote faster hatching, whereas cool conditions slow or prohibit hatching.
Depending on the food source and temperature, larvae can live anywhere from 35 days to two and a half years. They can do a lot of damage to materials during that period. (Read Do Deer Eat Pepper Plants)
The larvae weave a web (webbing moths) or a case (casemaking moths) around themselves as protection and disguise as they emerge.
Webbing moths build silken tunnels that they can emerge from at either end to feed. Casemaking moths wrap themselves in a hard shell and carry it around with them when they crawl through your garments.
Clothes moths can get into your house in a variety of ways. Newly purchased things, especially resale shops, may include eggs or many species in the larval stage.
Adult moths of the same species are attracted to sweat, urine, food stains, and moisture; therefore, cleaning your garments before storing them is crucial.
Wool, silk, and other fine materials should always be dry cleaned. The dry-cleaning procedure not only avoids adding moisture to the garments, which attracts moths, but it also kills any larvae that may already be present.
Launder your clothes and household goods in hot, soapy water. Clothes moth caterpillars are efficiently killed at all life cycle phases by washing clothing in 120°F water for 20 to 30 minutes.
You’ll find the larvae eat materials as they are drawn to sweat, urine, and food stains, and which are removed when clothes are washed.
Moths can also be killed by the cold. Garments and fabric items can be preserved in airtight freezer bags at 18 degrees F or colder for many days. Dry ice can also be used to fumigate garments.
Sunlight and brushing is an old-fashioned but efficient way for combating clothes moths. Brushing kills eggs and causes larvae to rise to the surface. Larvae despise the sun and fall off the clothing in an attempt to avoid its rays.
To naturally get rid of clothes moths, air out your natural textiles on a clothesline or coat hangers in the sunlight, brush them off and leave them in the sunlight for several hours.
Webbing, Clothes moths can also be killed with moth balls, an old-fashioned way. They work, even if they make your clothes smell bad for a while.
The chemical 1,4-dichlorobenzene or paradichlorobenzene found in mothballs suffocates moths and larvae. Because this chemical is toxic to pets and children, use it with extreme caution.
Clothing moths are claimed to be repelled by natural oils such as cedar oils and cedar chests.
Various natural oils, notably cedar, can be used to repel moths. Bay leaves and blends of lavender and rosemary essential oils are two more traditional remedies for the household pest.
If you find clothes moths, clean or launder them, then vacuum out the space where they were stored using the methods listed above. Remove everything from the closet if you have a significant infestation.
They should be aired out in the sunlight and thoroughly cleaned. Alternatively, if you have access to a washing machine, wash them in hot, soapy water for at least a half-hour. Before returning belongings to storage, wipe the flooring with Neem Oil RTU containing pyrethrin to eliminate any concealed eggs or clothing moth larvae.
How to Deal with Moths in the Pantry
The majority of pantry moths enter the house via contaminated items. Flour, cereal, cornmeal, rice, and nuts are preferred diets, but they will also infest birdseed, pet food, dry pasta, and dried fruit.
An infestation of pantry moths is very straightforward to notice. Webs and tiny white or cream-colored caterpillars will be found contaminated foods as the larvae create webs about themselves as they consume.
When the insects pupate, they become adult moths, large enough to be observed flying around the house.
Once pantry moths have taken hold, they can be challenging to get rid of. The key is to notice an infestation early on and act promptly to stop it from spreading.
Because the larvae can hide underneath shelf-liner paper in your pantry or kitchen cabinets, remove and discard it. It should be placed in a plastic bag and thrown away.
Pantry moths can be found in unusual places. They can spin webs on top of cabinets, in the corners of your pantry and cabinet shelves, and even behind the refrigerator.
Vacuum and clean any places you think you have a moth problem with hot, soapy water. After cleaning your shelves, quickly empty the vacuum cleaner bag into the garbage.
Pesticide sprays should never be used near food or in the pantry to deal with potentially infested areas. They can contaminate your food and make you ill. The best strategies to combat a pantry moth infestation are to use pantry moth traps, eliminate tainted items, and clean your pantry.
Avoid buying bulk foods, which are more likely to be contaminated in open containers than in factory-sealed ones.