Today, we’re answering a common question: what do moths eat? Once you know that, you get a clearer understanding of their behavior. Then, you can figure out how to leave them forever hungry and get rid of them once and for all.
Have you ever opened one of your cupboards only to find one of those pesky moths flying out? Or have you taken out one of your sweaters and discovered it has a few gaping holes?
In both instances, the culprit is the small, pale-colored moth. While they may seem harmless enough, these flying insects can wreak havoc in their own little way.
They’re also great at camouflaging and hiding, especially when they’re near a food source. Let’s get started.
What do Moths Eat? A Brief Look Into the Life of a Moth
Moths are categorized as Lepidoptera, which loosely translates to ‘scaly wings.’ They’re in the same family as butterflies, despite the obvious differences in appearance.
Did you know that many adult moth species don’t have the apparatus to chew? Instead, they have a tube-like structure that works to pump fluids, called a proboscis.
Adult moths use this mechanism to feed on liquids, such as tree sap, juices from decaying fruits, and flower nectar. The sweetness from the juice provides them with the energy and hydration they need
Now, let’s talk about the moths you find inside your home. These are divided into two categories: clothes moths and pantry moths. Neither of these can chew as well.
So, if the adults have no teeth, who’s doing all the damage to our garments and foods? You can blame the larvae for that!
During the warmer months, adult moths gather near food sources to reproduce. Female moths can lay up to 50 tiny, microscopic eggs. These can take from four to 10 days to hatch into larvae, depending on the conditions.
Larvae come into this world with one aim: to eat and grow. Their chewing organs can eat through pretty much anything. In fact, the first thing they eat is their shell, making use of its nutrients and proteins.
They’re known to do nothing but eat nonstop for the first week after they hatch. It’s believed they can eat almost 3,000 times their body weight!
Larvae continue to live for several months until they’ve reached the right size. Then, once the conditions are ideal, the larvae will start to pupate.
This is the second stage of a moth’s life cycle, known as a chrysalis. They spin a cocoon in which the metamorphosis will take place. It usually takes about 10 to 14 days.
During this time, they don’t eat. They use the energy from the food they’ve consumed during the larval stage. It’s worth mentioning that moths lose their chewing apparatus in the course of this stage.
When fully developed, the moth will emerge, ready to embark on the hunt for a mate. Then, the cycle repeats once again.
What Do Moths Eat?
If you’re fighting with a moth infestation, you need to understand what they eat. Here’s what the diet for each variety consists of.
There are two types of clothes moths: the casemaking moth (Tinea pellionella) and the webbing moth (Tineola bisselliella). Both types prefer snacking on all types of natural fibers.
It’s not just your wardrobe they like to eat their way through. It can also be upholstery, bedding, drapes, and carpets as well.
Here are a few examples of natural fibers that typically attract clothes moths:
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Pantry moths (Plodia interpunctella) can be a real source of trouble and aggravation. Once they infest your pantries, they can destroy almost all types of dry foods you’ve stored in your pantry.
They almost always come inside packages you buy from stores in the form of larvae. So, you’ll need to open each package before storing it to make sure it’s larvae-free.
The other thing you can do is seal dry goods in airtight containers and refrigerate them. Cold temperatures kill off moth eggs and larvae.
Some of their favorite snacks include:
- Dried pasta
- Pet food and birdseed
What do Moths Eat? How to Get Rid of an Infestation
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There are several ways clothes moths can make their way into your home. they can latch onto items that you buy from the store.
Try the tips below to eliminate moth infestations from your home.
Moth infestations can come into your home through your purchases. This includes garments, carpets, and curtains.
Gather up all types of fabric that can be machine washed. Wash them in hot water that’s about 120℉. Run the machine for no less than 20 to 30 minutes to make sure all the stains and perspiration are removed since these are what attract adult moths to garments.
Experts recommend that you dry clean fine fibers, such as silk, wool, and cashmere. It helps prevent moth infestations by removing moisture from your clothes. The other advantage is that it kills moth larvae, which may be burrowing within the fibers.
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As for the upholstery and carpets, a good vacuuming once a week should do the trick. Make sure you run the vacuum over, under, and in-between cushions on your furniture. Also, vacuum the baseboards in your closet to remove any hidden larvae.
As soon as you’ve vacuumed all the corners and crevices of your entire home, empty the vacuum bag into a trash bag. Then, close it tightly and throw it out immediately, preferably in a dumpster away from your home.
Even if your pantry is spic and span, it can still suffer from a moth infestation. They usually come into your home uninvited through the products you buy at the store.
Here are five easy steps to get rid of a pantry moth infestation:
Step 1: Throw Out All Infected Packages
If you spot a moth infestation in any of the packages, you have to throw out the whole thing. Get a plastic bag and place the container inside. Next, seal the plastic bag tightly and throw it out in the trash.
Don’t try to salvage any of the food inside the package. It may contain eggs or larvae.
Step 2: Take Out Everything in the Pantry
Remove everything from the pantry or cupboards. Check each package and throw out anything that shows signs of contamination.
Step 3: Remove the Shelf-Liner Paper
Peel off the shelf-liner paper, place it in a plastic bag, and throw it out. Larvae can hide underneath the liner. They can also be lurking within the nooks and crannies between shelving.
Step 4: Vacuum All the Corners and Crevices
Vacuum the entire area. Don’t forget the floorboards and in between the walls and shelves.
Step 5: Wash with Hot Water and Soap
The final step is to wash everything with hot, soapy water. Make sure you wipe the doors, as well as the top of the kitchen cabinets.
Once everything is clean and dry, place the new shelf-liner paper on all the shelves. Then, put everything back into the pantry.
What do Moths Eat? – Conclusion
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Knowing the answer to ‘what do moths eat?’ can help you learn how to keep them forever hungry and forever out of your home.
Remember to take precautionary steps to prevent a moth invasion. Check your purchases and clean everything regularly.
You can even hang sachets filled with natural repellents in your closet or pantry to deter adult moths. These can range from cedar to dried rosemary and lavender.
If you do happen to spot these little pests, don’t panic. Use our handy guide to eliminate them for your home once and for all.
CLICK HERE to view our non-toxic moth traps and all of our pest control options!