- Colour Varies by species
- Size From 6 mm to 10 mm long, with wingspans from 12 mm to 16 mm
- Also known as: Indian meal moths, Clothes moths.
- Description Indian meal moths have a reddish-brown or copper sheen on their forewings, while clothes moths have a buff or gold colouration, with reddish-gold hairs on the top of the head and around the wings.
How to identify Moths
Moths vary in size and appearance from species to species. For instance, the Indian meal moth is relatively small and measures around 9 mm in length, but has a wingspan reaching up to 16 mm. These moths stand out from other pantry-pest species due to the reddish-brown or copper sheen on their forewings.
Similarly, the webbing clothes moths have a buff or gold colouration, with reddish-gold hairs on the top of the head and around the wings. The fabric pests tend to range in size from 6 to 8 mm, with a wingspan extending as far as 12 mm. Casemaking clothes moths boast dark spots on their wings, which distinguishes the species from webbing clothes moths.
Signs of an infestation
Many adult non-pest moths feed on nectar and sap, but their larvae feed voraciously on stored foods or fabrics. Female moths lay their eggs directly on these food sources, so the larvae can begin feasting as soon as they hatch. Adult moths tend to live near their larvae.
Because of this, Indian meal moths commonly live in food processing and handling facilities and homes. Meanwhile, casemaking clothes moths and webbing clothes moths live in homes, museums, and fabric handling facilities.
Indian meal moth larvae will consume seeds, grains, cereals, dehydrated herbs, and dried pet food, while clothes moth larvae can eat through wool carpets and rugs, clothing, upholstered furniture, furs, and all sorts of synthetic and cotton blends.
Note that clothes moth larvae focus on the cuffs and collars of apparel, the crevices of upholstered furniture, and the carpeted areas underneath home furnishings. The pests typically attack old, dirty, or stained items.
In most cases, the larvae spend up to two months eating through the stored food or fabric, before pupating and emerging as adult moths 10 days later. They begin reproducing immediately.
Use of appropriate pheromone traps can help with the detection and control of moths from homes and other structures. For pantry-invading species, exposure to extremely high or low temperatures will kill the developing larvae and stop the threat of infestation. Home cleaning agents, on the other hand, have proven to be less than effective. An appropriately labelled insecticide product may be used to control adult moth populations. It is important to read and follow label instructions for safety. For severe infestations, consult a pest management professional to control and eliminate the moth infestation.
How to prevent Moths from invading
Look for silk webbing left by the larvae, Store pantry items in airtight containers, Vacuum up spilled foods promptly, Dry clean clothes, Steam clean furniture, Use pheromone traps
Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle
Moths can be found throughout the Canadian provinces, but they tend to stay close to food sources. Adults live near their breeding sites as developing moths need a consistent food source to grow and mature. Species that feed on stored food products are commonly found in food processing and handling facilities as well as in homes. Meanwhile clothes moths often infest homes, museums, and fabric handling facilities.
Most species of moths feed on nectar and sap as adults. The larvae, often referred to as caterpillars, are the ones which inflict damage by attacking stored foods or fabrics. The stored-food pest species consume various common pantry items, including seeds, grains, cereals, dehydrated herbs, and dried pet food, while clothes moths can eat through wool carpets and rugs, clothing, upholstered furniture, furs, and all sorts of synthetic and cotton blends.
Moths undergo complete metamorphosis where eggs are laid on suitable sources of food. The eggs hatch into larvae, commonly referred to as caterpillars, and they undergo a series of larval transformations before pupating and becoming adults. The length of development time is dependent on temperature, humidity, and diet. In most cases, it takes about one to two months or more depending on species. Before pupating, larvae molt up to 4 – 5 times depending on the temperature of the environment and the availability of food sources. Pupation lasts up to 10 days in warm weather but may continue for longer periods of time during the winter months. When adults finally emerge, they are sexually mature and begin the reproductive process anew.
Commonly Asked Questions
How worried should I be about moths?
Moth larvae can damage clothing, carpets, upholstered furniture, wall hangings, and even museum artifacts, and make pantry products unfit for consumption. Accidental ingestion of moth cocoons or larvae can cause gastrointestinal irritation and an upset stomach.
These pests may also indicate the existence of an infestation problem where the product was manufactured or bought, causing granaries, warehouses, mills, and even retail establishments to lose business and profits over time.
In the case of a home infestation, exposing stored foods to extremely high or low temperatures will kill the developing larvae and stop the threat of infestation. However, for larger or commercial infestations, you’ll need the help of professional pest control services.
Types of Moths
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