Pest Away Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Moth Life Cycles Diet and Control

Introduction to Moths

Moths are winged insects that belong to the Lepidoptera order, which means “scale-winged.” These creatures come in all sizes and appearances, and they are often mistaken for butterflies. Although they share some similarities with butterflies, there are many differences between them.

The most noticeable difference is the presence of scales on the wings of moths, while butterflies have brightly colored scales. Moths also have thicker bodies and antennae that resemble a feather duster.

They are usually nocturnal and are attracted to light. In this article, we will explore the life cycle stages of moths, what they eat, where they come from, and whether they are harmful to humans.

Moth Life Cycle Stages

Moth Eggs

The life cycle of moths begins with the fertilized eggs. The female moth lays her eggs on a food source, and the gestation period depends on the species.

Some species can lay hundreds of eggs at once, while others lay only a few.

Larvae Stage

Once the eggs hatch, the larvae stage begins, and we know these as caterpillars. They are voracious eaters and shed their cuticle several times as they grow.

The larvae will feed on many types of plants, depending on their species. During the larvae stage, they go through several instars, growing larger after each molting.

The feeding habits of caterpillars vary from species to species. Some caterpillars feed on leaves, while others bore into fruits and vegetables.

They can cause severe damage to crops and gardens in this stage.

Pupa Stage

When the caterpillar is fully grown, it forms a cocoon using silk. This stage is called the pupa stage, and the caterpillar goes through histogenesis or the transformation of tissues during metamorphosis.

The cocoon is usually made of silk and is the perfect enclosure for the moth’s metamorphosis.

Adult Stage

After the pupa stage, the adult moth emerges from the cocoon. In this stage, it has fully developed wings with intricate patterns.

The proboscis is used to sip liquid diets such as flower nectar, rotting fruit, tree sap, honeydew, and other liquids that they can find. Moths usually live for a few weeks to several months, depending on the species.

Many species do not eat in the adult stage as their sole purpose is to mate and produce offspring. What Do Moths Eat?

The diet of moths varies throughout their life cycle. The caterpillars, in particular, are known for their voracious appetite and can consume many times their weight in food.

Their diet during the larvae stage depends on their species. Some caterpillars feed on leaves, while others prefer fruits.

In contrast, others bore into stems and buds or consume lichen. In the adult stage, most moths feed on liquids, primarily flower nectar, tree sap, honeydew, and rotting fruit.

They use their proboscis to sip liquids from the flowers. Where Do Moths Come From?

Moths can be found worldwide, except for areas with extreme weather conditions. The attraction to light is one of the reasons why moths gather around porch lights and street lamps in urban areas.

This behavior is called positive phototaxis, and it helps nocturnal moths navigate while flying at night by orientating themselves toward the moon. There are thousands of species of moths in North America, and they differ in appearance, distribution, and behavior.

The most common type of moth in the USA is the Indian meal moth, and it is one of the few species that can infest pantries and stored food. Moths usually come alive during the spring and summer months when you are more likely to see them fluttering around in your backyard as they mate and lay eggs.

Are Moths Harmful to Humans? Moths are not harmful to humans.

Admittedly, some people are allergic to the scales and hair that moths shed, and their feces may cause respiratory problems in humans exposed to them. However, in general, moths do not bite people, and they pose no threat to human health.


Moths are fascinating creatures that play a crucial role in our ecosystem. Their life cycle is unique and fascinating, and they come in thousands of species and are found globally.

Although they may seem similar to butterflies, they differ in many ways. They are important pollinators and plant-eaters in their larvae stage.

Moths may be considered pests by some people because they can cause damage to crops and stored food. However, they play a vital role in maintaining the balance in our ecosystem, and we should appreciate their contribution to our natural world.

Types of Moths in the US

Moths are one of the most diverse groups of insect species globally, with approximately 11,000 species in the United States alone. Although the majority of them are not considered pests, some of them can cause damage in homes, gardens, and agriculture.

Here are the most common types of moths known for causing damage in North America:

Fall Webworm Moths

The fall webworm moth is a type of moth that constructs webbed tents around leaves and branches of trees as their larvae feed on foliage. They are attracted to deciduous trees such as maple, fruit trees, and birch trees.

These moths are not harmful, but their larvae can defoliate trees and damage their health. The web tents around the trees can be unsightly and affect the overall appearance of the landscape.

Clothes Moths

Clothes moths are infamous as a textile pest that feeds on clothing, wool, fur, silk, and other fabrics. The larvae of the clothes moth can cause extensive textile damage, often leading to the destruction of valuable items.

They are attracted to materials that contain keratin, such as leather, feathers, and fur. The clothes moth is commonly found in homes but can also be found in museums, storage facilities, and stores that sell secondhand clothes.

Brown House Moth

The brown house moth is another pest that can destroy wool and other animal fibers. Brown House moths can consume wool, cashmere, and alpaca sweaters, jackets, and other clothing items quite rapidly.

Their larvae can cause extensive damage to clothes fibers and other items that contain keratin. These moths are commonly found in homes, where they can feed on the wool carpets, curtains, and furniture with wool padding.

Pantry Moth

Pantry moths or Indian meal moths are pests that infest dried goods stored in pantries. Pantry moths are attracted to whole grains, flour, nuts, cereals, and spices.

The larvae of these moths can inflict significant damage to dry goods, rendering them inedible. Pantry moths can live for a year and breed continuously throughout the year, making them difficult to eliminate.

Leaf-Roller Moth

Leaf-roller moths are pests that infest crops, causing extensive damage in gardens and agriculture. They usually hide inside the leaves and curl the leaves upwards to form a protective casing.

This casing provides an environment that protects them from predators and harmful weather conditions, making their control difficult. Leaf-roller moths prefer fruits and vegetables, and they can cause significant crop losses if not adequately managed.

Asian Gypsy Moth

The Asian Gypsy moth is a highly invasive species of moth that feeds on over 500 plant species and can cause extensive defoliation of forests. The gypsy moth larvae prefer deciduous trees like oak, maple, and birch.

They usually start feeding on the outermost leaves of the tree, slowly consuming the inner layer as well. The Asian gypsy moth can cause significant economic losses to the timber industry if left unchecked.

Diamondback Moths

Diamondback moths are pests that infest cruciferous crops, including cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. The larvae of diamondback moths feed on the leaves, causing dieback of the crop.

They are considered a significant agricultural pest worldwide, and several chemical pesticides are used to control them. Diamondback moths have high reproductive rates, making them difficult to control.

Moths in the Home

Moths are attracted to homes because they offer a warm, sheltered environment and a source of food. They can enter homes through open windows and doors or by hitchhiking in grocery bags and boxes.

Here are some ways to prevent moths from entering your home:

Regular Cleaning

Moths are attracted to unclean homes. Regular cleaning of your home is essential to prevent moths from entering your home.

Vacuuming, dusting, and mopping can go a long way in preventing moth infestations.

Sealing Cracks and Holes

Moths can enter your home through tiny holes and gaps in walls, windows, and doors. Sealing these gaps can prevent moths from entering your home.

Keeping Screens on Windows and Doors

Keeping screens on your windows and doors can help prevent moths from entering your home while still allowing fresh air into your home.

Signs of a Moth Infestation

The most significant signs of a moth infestation include:

Fabric Damage

Moths often leave holes in clothes and other textiles because they feed on keratin.

Empty Casings

The pupae of moths leave empty casings or cocoons behind as they transform into adults.

Fluttering Adults

Spotting fluttering adults can indicate a moth infestation.

Holes in Food

Pantry moth infestations can lead to holes in dried goods, including flour, nuts, rice, and cereal.


Spotting larvae can indicate a moth invasion. These larvae are usually tiny and can be found in cracks and crevices around the home.

Moths in the Kitchen

Pantry moth infestations can occur in kitchens and pantries that are not adequately maintained. Here are some ways to prevent pantry moth infestations in your kitchen:

Store dry goods in airtight containers.

Check expiration dates and dispose of expired food items. Regularly clean and vacuum the pantry and kitchen area.

If you have a moth infestation, you can use pheromone traps, which are sticky traps that attract and capture moths. These traps use pheromones to lure the male moths into the trap, preventing them from breeding.

However, with larger infestations, it may be necessary to hire a pest control professional that can help eradicate the infestation.

Getting Rid of Moths

Moths are notorious for causing damage to clothing, food items, and plants. Getting rid of a moth infestation requires an integrated pest management approach that involves preventing them from entering your home, removing them from your home, and deterring them from returning.

Removing Moths from Clothes

Clothes moths are notorious for attacking wool, cashmere, and silk. Once they infest your clothes, it can be challenging to eliminate them.

Here are some ways you can remove moths from clothes:

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning your clothes is an excellent way to eliminate moth larvae and adult moths. The high heat and chemicals used in dry cleaning can kill the larvae and remove any eggs or adult moths.


Mothballs are small balls of naphthalene that repel moths. Placing mothballs in your clothes storage area can repel moths and prevent them from infesting your clothes.

Stored Clothes

If you have clothes that you store for long periods, it’s best to check them periodically for signs of moth infestations. This check will allow you to take action before the infestation becomes severe.

Eliminating Moths from the Kitchen

The kitchen is a common area for moth infestations. Pantry moths are notorious for infesting dried goods, including flour, nuts, cereal, and rice.

Here are some ways to eliminate moths from your kitchen:

Removing Infested Food

If you find food items with moth larvae or adults, it’s best to dispose of the food immediately. This disposal will prevent the larvae from spreading to other parts of your home and prevent the adults from breeding.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance of your kitchen area is essential to prevent moth infestations. Regular cleaning of the pantry, cabinets, and shelves will remove any eggs or larvae and reduce the number of adult moths in the area.

Storing Food in Sealed Containers

Storing your food items in sealed containers is an excellent way to prevent moths from infesting your kitchen. These containers will provide a barrier between the food and the moths, preventing them from infesting your dried goods.

Terminix Pest Control for Moth Control

Terminix is a pest control company that specializes in controlling and eliminating moth infestations. Termites have trained technicians with expertise in dealing with various types of moth infestations.

Here’s how the pest control service can help you:

Moth Problem

If you have a moth infestation, the Terminix pest control service can help you identify the type of moths in your home and the severity of the infestation. They will then create a customized plan to remove the moths from your home.

Pest Inspection

Terminix offers a free pest inspection service to identify any pest issues in your home, including moths. This inspection can identify areas of your home that are vulnerable to moth infestations.

Elimination Assistance

Terminix offers moth control solutions that range from pesticide treatments to moth traps. They can also provide comprehensive pest management solutions that include sealing cracks and gaps in your home to prevent moth infestations.

Terminix pest control service can guarantee a moth-free home, depending on the severity of the infestation, the type of moths involved, and the level of customer cooperation. However, it’s essential to maintain housekeeping and pest-proofing practices to prevent future infestations.


Moths are pests that can cause damage to homes, clothes, and food items. Eliminating moth infestations requires an integrated approach that involves prevention, removal, and deterring them from returning.

The use of dry cleaning, mothballs, and storing clothes correctly can eliminate moths from clothes. A proactive approach to cleaning, maintenance, and storage can prevent and eliminate moth infestations in the kitchen.

Employing a reputable pest control company like Terminix can be a crucial step in removing moths from your home. However, the best strategy is to prevent moth infestations through proper pest-proofing and housekeeping practices.

In conclusion, moths are fascinating insects that play an essential role in our ecosystem. They come in various shapes and sizes, and their life cycles are unique and exciting.

However, they can also be a nuisance if they infest homes, gardens, and crops, causing significant damage. The most crucial step in preventing and eliminating moth infestations is a proactive approach that involves proper pest-proofing, housekeeping, and preventative measures.

With these strategies, we can appreciate the beauty of moths without the fear of damage and destruction they can cause.

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