Moth Control: Protect Your Home

moth illustration

Appearance

What Do Moths Look Like?
indian meal moth
Size: Adult moths of most species are less than 1/4 of an inch in length. The wingspan for Mid-Atlantic species ranges from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch.

Color: A distinct coloration adorns the wings of most moths. As such, the insects may appear gold, bronze, yellowish-brown, reddish-brown, whitish-gray, or black in color.

Characteristics: Adult moths have front and hind wings, six legs, and antennae. Their wings typically feature a fringe of hairs along the margins, and the front wings are more vibrantly colored than the hind ones.

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Facts

Pest moths typically fall into one of two categories depending on their preferred food source:

  • Fabric – Fabric moths tend to target clothing stores, museums, and coat closets, attics, and furniture in homes
  • Stored products – stored product moths feed on or lay eggs in grains, dried fruits, cereals, and similar foodstuffs.

Notable species of moths in our Mid-Atlantic service area:

  • Webbing moths
  • Casemaking clothes moths
  • Brown house moth
  • Angoumois moth
  • Indian meal moth
  • Mediterranean flour moth

Food

What Do Moths Eat?
The various food sources of moths include:

  • Furs
  • Wool carpets
  • Tapestries
  • Cork
  • Cereals
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruits
  • Feathers
  • Leathers
  • Book bindings
  • Papers
  • Corn
  • Grains
  • Nuts

Biology

Active in summer
Mid-Atlantic pest moth species all require warmer weather and a certain level of humidity to develop and reproduce. As such, area moths are much more active during the summer months, when they produce approximately four to seven generations a year.

Eggs & Reproduction
Females lay as few as 40 and as many as 650 eggs at a time. The eggs are typically deposited directly on a food source.

Full completion of the moth life cycle may take anywhere from one to three months depending on environmental conditions.

Life Span
Adult moths tend to live for less than a month.

Detection

  • Holes: Look for holes produced by fabric moths in coats, furniture, and other materials.
  • Dust: May notice accumulations of dust around infested bins of grains and other stored products.
  • Silky webs: Silken webbing found in grains, cereals, seeds, and other products points to moth reproduction.

Problems Caused by Moths

Damage to Food
Moths can render commodities unfit for sale and human consumption. Stored product moths especially cost grocery stores and farmers significant amounts of money in damages by reproducing in and feeding on grains, fruits, vegetables, and other food products.

Damage to Fabrics
Fabric moths, though less of a concern than their stored product counterparts, can ruin priceless artifacts in museums and destroy clothes being held in storage.

Signs of Infestation

While most stored product moth activity takes place inside individual seeds or kernels, the pests leave behind certain indicators that help in detecting their presence.

  • Weight: Often, the dry weight of infested products is altered due to the feeding of the moths.
  • Dust: Dust may accumulate around infested foodstuffs asa byproduct of feeding.
  • Frass: Similarly, frass and silken webbing may be found inside the packaging of infested products.
  • Holes – Fabric moths can be harder to spot, but an infestation of webbing and casemaking clothes moths will produce telltale holes in clothing, wool carpets, curtains, and furniture.

Prevention Tips

Sanitation is the key to moth prevention.

  • Vacuum – Depending on the species, simply vacuuming regularly can make the home environment unsuitable for the pests.
  • Laundry – Promptly launder all clothes and fabrics stained with food products or bodily fluids.
  • Groceries – Check groceries thoroughly for signs of moth activity before bringing the food items into the home.
  • Storage – Additionally, storage bins containing products that moths like to feed on should be carefully cleaned between uses.

Tips for Removal from Home

Once a moth infestation occurs, correctly identifying the invading species is key to removal.

  • Dry cleaning – In the case of fabric moths, dry cleaning the affected garments may effectively kill adults, larvae, and eggs.
  • Heat/Cold – Extreme cold or heat kills any moth species, so freezing or heating food items to do away with stored product moths remains an option.
  • Remove trash – Disposing of any infested products can also help.

For unusually persistent infestations of moths, having a pest control specialist administer professional treatments may be the best course of action to take.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857