How Do Moths Reproduce – What You Can Do To Prevent It

The presence of one or two moths in your home isn’t always a huge concern. However, if the number of moths surges, you need to take drastic steps to remove them. Although adult moths are harmless, their larvae are destructive. The larvae feed on clothes, carpeting, and other fabric items in your home. But how do moths reproduce? Here’s vital information on moths and ways of preventing moths from breeding and infesting your home.


How do Moths Reproduce? About Moths


Moths: A Complete Guide to Biology and Behavior
  • Lees, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 10/29/2019 (Publication Date) - Smithsonian Books (Publisher)


Moths are tiny insects that inhabit fields and homes. There are about 160,000 moth species, but only a few species venture into people’s houses. Moths are part of the Lepidoptera order, a group of insects related to butterflies. Unlike butterflies, moths have hairy antennas that lack a ball end.


Are Moths Pests?


Moths become pests when they invade your home and wreak havoc. These pesky insects can destroy your fabric, carpet, and furniture. Once in your home, moths look for dark, secluded corners where they deposit eggs. The eggs hatch after a few days to form larvae.

Most of the destruction is usually caused by the larvae (caterpillar). They eat almost everything in your home, be it clothes or treasured possessions.


How Moths Enter Your Home


Like other rodents/insects, moths enter your house through torn screens, window cracks, or door frames. Some species may gain entry into your home by hiding in clothes, furniture, or other goods you buy from shops.

You might find moth eggs in common household foods like cereal, dried fruit, and flour.

Home lighting also attracts moths. According to scientists, these insects are positively phototactic. You’ll notice moths gathering around indoor and outdoor lighting at nighttime.


How do Moths Reproduce? Most Common Moth Pests


Only a few moth species infest your home. These species have different lifespans, characters, and appearances.


Clothes Moths


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Two types of clothes moths inhabit North American homes. These species are the case-making clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth.


Webbing Clothes Moths

Webbing clothes moths are tiny moths that live in moist, low-humid environs. Adults are approximately 0.24-0.28 inches in length. Unlike other moths, they prefer dark areas. You’ll find them hiding in closets, wardrobes, attics, and handmade rugs.

You may also wonder how many eggs do moths lay and how long it takes moth eggs to hatch. Well, females lay up to 100 eggs in hidden materials such as folds of furnishings. The eggs have a sticky substance that makes them stick firmly to fabrics. In the summer, the eggs hatch in about 4-10 days, while in the winter, the hatching period extends to 3 weeks.

The cream-colored larvae are about 0.4 inches long and mature into adults in approximately six weeks. The larvae are notorious for feeding on natural fibers and clothing. They eat dirty clothing that’s soaked with sweat. Once the larvae reach adulthood, they cease eating clothes.


Case-making Clothes Moths

Case-making clothes moths are of similar size to the webbing moths. Unlike the webbing moth, this species is darker and has three spots on each wing. These moths spend most of their time hidden in dark areas.

Homeowners often ask, how do moths reproduce? Reproduction starts when moths mate, then females lay fertilized eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae within a week. Immediately the larvae emerge, they start feeding on fabric. They feed for about three months, and during this period, they molt 5-11 times.

The larva spins a protective silken case around itself which it carries. This protective cover makes the larva hard to spot.

Case-bearing larvae eat rugs, carpets, clothing, upholstery fabrics, blankets, lint, brush bristles, and fur. The larval caterpillar can intermittently feed until conditions are ideal for it to turn into an adult.


Brown House Moths

These are large, less destructive moths. Adults can grow up to 18mm in length, while their larvae are about 20mm long. These moths are brown and have three or four dark spots on the wings.

Adults are scavengers that feed on dead insects, while larvae prefer feeding on animal textiles like leather, feathers, and wool.

The larvae will occasionally eat book bindings, grains, paper seeds, dried plant matter, corks, and food products.

Brown house moths only have a single generation per year. This translates to a low population growth rate compared to other moths.


White-Shouldered House Moth

This moth’s name originates from the white-shouldered pattern on its forewings. Its wingspan ranges from 15 to 17 millimeters, making it one of the tiniest moths in North America.

It’s an outdoor moth that occasionally inhabits isolated buildings. The larvae are yellowish-green with dark spots. They scavenge a wide range of foods, including lichens and fungi.

The white-shouldered house moths are less destructive since they spend minimal time indoors.


How do Moths Reproduce? Identifying Moth Infestation


The obvious sign of moth infestation in your home is damage to your clothes, carpet, and textiles. Start by inspecting clothes stored in dark closets or wardrobes. If you notice any holes in your clothes, know the primary culprits are moths. Other signs of moth infestation include:

  • Piles of webbing on surfaces like walls or ceilings around lamps, window frames, and closets
  • Tiny black droppings on white surfaces such as sheets or pillowcases
  • The presence of adult moths in your home
  • The presence of larva. Moth larva resembles maggots, while some have cases that resemble grains of rice
  • The presence of pupal cocoons


Prevention of Moth Infestations


Moths can be a real nuisance when they infest your home and personal belongings. Prevention is undoubtedly easier than eradicating these pesky insects. Below are vital prevention tips.

  • Clean clothes, carpets, and textiles regularly. Frequent cleaning disrupts the development of moths.
  • Keep fabrics locked in tightly sealed containers or drawers.
  • Clean off shelves with soap and water, then dry thoroughly. Do the cleaning at least biannually.
  • Avoid storing moist clothing in drawers or closets.
  • Try hanging clothes up on hangers.


How to Get Rid of Moth Larvae


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Killing moths won’t eradicate them from your home. Even if the moths are gone, the eggs they leave behind will develop into larvae and finally adults. You have to answer the question, how do moths reproduce before seeking a long-lasting solution. Here’s how to get rid of moths’ eggs, larvae, and pupa.

Start by clearing out the affected shelves, wardrobes, closets, and cupboards.

Vacuum all the affected surfaces while paying more attention to cracks, crevices, and other hidden sections. It’s advisable to regularly empty your vacuum to get rid of the eggs and larvae for good. 

Wash contaminated clothing with hot water. You can also freeze contaminated textiles for one week to inactivate the larvae.

Throw away any unusable or out-of-date items. This could be open boxes or dry food that you no longer need. 

Wash infected containers and surfaces with vinegar. This involves cleaning furniture, wardrobes, old bags, cases, drawers, and anything that might shelter moth larvae.


How do Moths Reproduce? Getting Rid of Moths


Below are effective ways of removing adult moths from your home.


Set Up Moth Traps


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You can set up a sticky trap and cover it with pheromones. The pheromones will attract moths, and the sticky surface will trap them until they die. You can use a combo of flypaper and fish oil.


Fill Your Home with Scents


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Scents from cedar, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and bay leaves repel moths.


Ventilate You Home

Moths are unlikely to nest in a place with too much sun and air.


Call a Pest Control Service

Getting rid of moth infestation isn’t always straightforward. If you’re overwhelmed, you can call an exterminator to assess and find solutions.


How do Moths Reproduce? Bottomline


Moths aren’t harmful, but their larvae are very destructive. Luckily, the above methods can help you remove moths and their larvae easily.

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