- They have two pairs of wings covered in scales
- They have large compound eyes
- Their color depends on the species and can be brown, gray, white, metallic, or various other shades
- Their size depends on the species
Behavior, diet, and habits of moths vary between the species. They often enter your home through an open door or window and you can find them in dark locations such as attics, closets, pantries, and basements since most moths avoid light. Pantry moths enter when you bring in already infested food such as grain.
Some moths have relatively no effect on mankind while others are major agricultural pests. Pantry and clothes moths are the most problematic for homeowners. The adult moths are not destructive, however, the larvae of these moths cause damage while feeding. Pantry moth larvae feed on the stored products such as cereal and grains, while clothes moth larvae feed on natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and silk.
Moths can be a food source for birds, reptiles, insects, spiders, and other animals.
Moths have a relatively short life cycle and reproduce and develop rapidly. See specific species below for more information.
There are several signs of infestation. The most obvious is If you see adult moths flying around the room. Signs of Pantry moths include webbing on packages such as flour or cereal, an unpleasant odor inside the package, clumping of grains, and pupae in the food package or pantry. Signs of Clothes Moths include damage, such as holes, webbing, cocoons and droppings, in and around clothes, wool or other natural fibrous materials.
Prevention is the best strategy for Clothes and Pantry moths. Keeping your clothes laundered, dry cleaned and properly stored makes them less attractive to clothes moths. Regularly inspecting your food items, maintaining proper food storage and never mixing old food with new reduces the chance of Pantry Moths. If you find yourself with an infestation, we recommend that you thoroughly clean the area, get rid of any affected items, and contact a pest control professional.
Webbing Clothes Moths
- The most commonly encountered moth
- Adults are ½ inch from wing tip to wing tip
- Adults are golden in color with a tuft of reddish hairs on the head
- Larvae are about 1/2 inch in length
- Larvae are whitish in color with a brown head
Webbing clothes moths can mate and lay eggs the day they emerge from their cocoon. Females lay from 30 to around 200 eggs in their 2-3 week lifetime. The eggs hatch in as little as 4 days or in as many as 21 days. These newly hatched larvae begin to spin silk tubes, tunnels or mats and feed within the confines of this area. These larvae feed and molt between 5 and 45 times for 30 days up to 29 months. The stage length depends on food, humidity, and temperature. Following this stage is the pupal state, which lasts about 9 days in the summer and 44 in the winter. Then they become mature adults and start the cycle again. Warmer climates with higher humidity allow the moths to complete their life cycle in 50 to 90 days.
- They are 9/16 inches to 7/8 inches from wing tip to wing tip
- They are molted gray in color
- Their front wing has 2 wavy transverse bands
- Their hind wing is pale gray
They average 114 eggs that hatch in about 3 days. They have 5 larvae instars that average 22 days, pupation in 7 days, and the adults live up to 2 weeks.
Angoumois Grain Moth
- They are 1/2 to 5/8 inches from wing tip to wing tip
- They are a pale yellowish brown color
- Their hind wings are narrow at tip towards the front wing
They average 40 eggs laid that hatch in about 6 days. They have 3 larvae instars that average 21 days. They hibernate before pupation, and then pupation lasts about 12 days.
- They are 5/8 to 3/4 inches from wing tip to wing tip
- They are pale gray and 2/3 of the front wing is reddish copper
- They are the most common Pantry Moth in the United States
They lay 100 to 400 eggs and their total life cycle lasts 25 to 135 days.
Mediterranean Flour Moth
- They are up to 1 inch from wing tip to wing tip
- Their front wings are pale gray with black zig zag lines
- Their hind wings are a dirty white color
- The front of their body is raised when resting
They lay 116 to 678 eggs and their total life cycle is 8 to 10 weeks. They can quickly become an agricultural problem due to their rapid breading.
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