Although moths don’t bite or sting, their rapid reproduction rate can cause extensive damage to our properties, especially clothes and food. Keep reading to find out about 11 small moths you’ve most likely seen in your house.
But to be able to eradicate these infestations, you must be able to pinpoint the causative species.
Look Out for These 7 Small Moths in House
How does each species look like? Where can you find them around your house? And how can you protect yourself? That’s what we’ll answer in this section.
1. The Brown House Moth
- Scientific Name: Hofmannophila pseudospretella
- Length: 10 mm
- Wingspan: 15–26 mm.
- Color: Dark bronze-brown
Brown house species have the most voracious appetite among all the other house moths. They feed on oatmeal, rice, flour, biscuits, and potatoes. And they also like to devour wool clothing and carpets.
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You can easily identify these moths by looking at their forewings. You’ll typically find dark flecks dispersed over a bronze-brown background.
If you spot one of these moths, head off to the most humid spots at your home, such as areas next to showers and gas heaters — larvae need this high humidity to complete their growth.
2. The Webbing Clothes Moth
- Scientific Name: Tineola bisselliella
- Length: 12 mm
- Wingspan: 12–16 mm
- Color: Buff gold
If you woke up to a demolished wardrobe, the webbing clothes moth would likely be the culprit. They particularly love animal-based fibers, such as wool, silk, fur, felt, and leather. These sources are especially helpful for larvae because they contain keratin — one of the few proteins they can digest.
Unlike other types of house moths, webbing moths prefer darkness, and that’s why it might be more challenging to spot them. But once you turn on the light, you can’t mistake them for other species, thanks to their bright golden bodies and distinctive hair-like fringes.
After feeding on your clothes, the larvae will spin silken fabric tunnels around themselves as a form of a temporary hideout. You’ll have to squint really hard to spot these tunnels because they take the same color as the original fabric.
3. The Casemaking Clothes Moth
- Scientific Name: Tinea pellionella
- Length: 9 mm
- Wingspan: 9.5–12 mm
- Color: Brownish gold
Just like the webbing clothes moths, the casemaking species are primarily interested in animal-based fibers.
The larvae also spin protective silken cases to hide in plain sight. But unlike the webbing species, they carry these cases around your house, allowing them to spread faster and stealthier.
Clothes moth identification is often associated with abandoned nests of birds, rodents, and bees. If you spot any of these lying around your home, remove them before worrying about the house infestation to ensure full eradication.
4. The Pantry Moth
- Scientific Name: Plodia interpunctell
- Length: 8–10mm
- Wingspan: 16–20mm
- Color: Pale gray with reddish-brown patches
As the name implies, pantry moths are notorious for their attraction toward food stored in pantries or cupboards. And besides homes, they can also invade stores and food-processing plants.
If you spot these moths in your home, immediately inspect your cereals, nuts, flour, tea, pasta, and other foods kept in poorly sealed containers. Any damaged packages should be discarded right away.
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But what if you accidentally ate the larvae of these moths? First of all, don’t panic. This species doesn’t spread any harmful diseases. However, it’s still a good idea to consult your doctor.
5. The Carpet Moth
- Scientific Name: Trichophaga tapetzella
- Length: 5 mm
- Wingspan: 14–18 mm
- Color: Dark brown with beige spots
Owing to their tiny size, the carpet moth larvae can crawl underneath your carpets to munch them stealthily. They often enter houses by lodging on second-hand furniture, rugs, tapestries, and so forth.
These moths leave distinctive threadbare patches on carpets, especially those left in unused dark areas.
Once the larvae mature into adult moths, you can easily identify them by their unique behavior. Rather than flying, these moths prefer to swiftly hop at the floor level.
6. The White-shouldered House Moth
- Scientific Name: Endrosis sarcitrella
- Length: 7–9 mm
- Wingspan: 15–21
- Color: Brown bodies with clear white patches toward the head.
With an omnivorous nature, the white-shouldered moths feed on grains, flour, and cereals, in addition to wool and other animal-based fabrics.
Because they favor well-lit environments, it’s fairly easy to spot their colonies before the situation gets out of hand.
Although these moths share the same dark brown hue as the brown house moth, you can easily tell them apart by the characteristic white patches found on the former.
7. The Warehouse Moth
- Scientific Name: Ephestia elutella
- Length: 7–9mm
- Wingspan: 10–16mm
- Color: Dark brown
Despite their small size, the warehouse moths are among the most challenging species to control.
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Adult moths can detect the smell of flours, cereals, cocoa powder, and tobacco. However, they can’t actually penetrate the package. Instead, they lay their eggs over the tiniest holes, allowing the larvae to munch their way into the product after they hatch. In densely packed warehouses, these moths can cause substantial losses in a short time.
Here’s a List of Other Moths You Might Encounter in Your Garden
If you’re growing trees, shrubs, and edible plants in your garden, familiarize yourself with the following moths to be able to early identify their infestations.
8. The European Gypsy Moth
- Scientific Name: Lymantria dispar
- Length: 15–35mm
- Wingspan: 37–62mm
- Color: Dark brown (males) and cream white (females)
Unlike the previous species, the European gypsy moths grow as caterpillars instead of larvae. Adult moths lay their eggs underneath the bark of secluded trees, allowing the offspring to munch on the green leaves.
After they grow up, you can easily spot them because of their relatively large size.
9. The Diamondback Moth
- Scientific Name: Plutella xylostella
- Length: 6 mm
- Wingspan: 12–15mm
- Color: Greyish brown with a broad cream band on its back
If you’re growing cauliflower, cabbage, kale, or any other cruciferous vegetables in your garden, keep an eye out for the diamondback moths.
When disturbed, these moths will wriggle backward and drop off the leaf by a silken strand. Once you leave, they’ll climb back up to resume feeding.
10. Pine-Tree Lappet Moth
- Scientific Name: Dendrolimus pini
- Length: 40 mm
- Wingspan: 50–70mm
- Color: Brown with grey hues
As the name suggests, these moths primarily feed on pine trees, especially the Scots pine. If given enough time, they can cause major defoliation that will imperatively impact the tree’s health.
11. Fall Webworm Moth
- Scientific Name: Hyphantria cunea
- Length: 40 mm
- Wingspan: 35–42
- Color: White with small black spots
Although these moths have cute, fuzzy white bodies, they’re among the most agriculturally invasive species. They primarily feed on backyard shrubs, but they can also devour ornamental trees.
Small Moths in House – Final Thoughts
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And remember, most moths have a preference for dark, humid areas. Periodically clean the unused spots inside your house, especially underneath the furniture, to make sure nothing escapes unnoticed. Moths also prefer dirty clothes that carry body oils and food bits.
After taking care of the indoor infestations, search for long-standing animal nests in the vicinity — Moths love to lay their eggs there to benefit from the rich protein content.
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