Moth Fact Sheet

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Moths are a type of insect that is related to butterflies. Let us dig into the Moth Fact Sheet, the Uks most common moth pests.

They can be found worldwide, but they cause nuisance, especially in the UK. There are various types of moths, and they are often considered pests because they can damage fabrics and other materials.

Moths are in various shapes and sizes, but they are not as colorful as butterflies. They range from dull browns to whites and grays. They are also generally smaller than butterflies.

What do moths look like?

Moth Fact Sheet the Uks most common moth pests

Moths have two pairs of scale-covered wings, a coiled proboscis, and large compound eyes. Certain moth species have brilliant metallic colors, while others are drab in browns or greys.

Most indoor infesting moths have a wingspan of less than 2 cm and are usually shades of grey, brown, or reddish-brown. 

Where do moths come from?

Moths come from all over the world and can be found in many different environments. They are often drawn to light so that they may be attracted to your porch light or other illumination sources.

Moths are also attracted to dark and damp areas, such as basements and attics, so check these spaces for any signs of a moth infestation. Nocturnal moths only come out at night, while diurnal moths can be active during the day. 

Moths can make their way to your home through open windows or doors, but they can also come in through plumbing fixtures, appliances, and other isolated areas. Once they’re in your home, they’ll start looking for a place to lay their eggs.

Moth life cycle stages

To understand and control moths in your home fully, you must first understand their life cycle. To become adults, these fascinating creatures go through an amazing transformation. While the process varies depending on the species of moth, it generally goes like this:

Life cycle of a moth

Moth eggs – embryonic stage

A female moth will lay fertilized eggs in a safe location after mating. This is often in an area with a lot of plant life, which can provide food for the young when they hatch.

A female moth dies about a week after laying her eggs, so newly-hatched larval moths must have a food source nearby.

The eggs can take anywhere from 4 to 10 days to mature. Most moth eggs hatch in about ten days under ideal conditions. The eggs laid by a moth vary in number by species.

Some, like the clothes moth, lay around 40 eggs, whereas the gypsy moth can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time.

Moth larvae stage

The larval stage of life begins when the moth eggs hatch. Moth larvae, also known as caterpillars, are voracious eaters who devour the egg casing as soon as it hatches.

The larvae will shed its cuticle several times during this stage as they grow and prepare for the next stage.

Moth pupa stage (cocoon)

The moth larva spins a silk casing around itself during this stage. This cocoon will be the moth’s home for the next 6 to 22 days as it undergoes a process known as histogenesis.

During this stage of metamorphosis, the moth’s cells are broken down and rebuilt.

Moth adult stage

This is a brief stage of life that lasts only a few weeks for some species and a few months for others.

When a moth reaches adulthood, its primary goal is to feed and mate to ensure the species’ survival.

Why are moths a pest?

Moths are a pest because they can cause serious damage to fabrics. They eat the fabric, which can leave holes and cause clothes, furniture, and carpets to deteriorate.

The damage is often irreversible and can sometimes lead to the destruction of possessions.

Clothes moths are attracted to natural fibers, such as wool, and will eat away at the fabric, making holes. This can ruin clothes, curtains, carpets, and other items made from natural fibers.

How to Prevent An Infestation

There are a variety of moth species that can infest homes, some of which are more harmful than others. If you have a moth infestation, it is important to take action quickly to get rid of them.

You can use several methods, both DIY and professional, to get rid of moths and prevent them from coming back.

There are ways to get rid of moths and prevent them from coming back. To take the most effective steps, you need to identify the type of moth causing the problem.

Common moth pests in the UK are clothes moths, pantry moths, and warehouse beetles.

Moth Fact Sheet the Uks most common moth pests

Several species can be a nuisance in your home, each with slightly different appearances, habits, and lifespans. The compiled list of the most common pests to assist you in determining which pest you’re dealing with:

Common Clothes Moth

The Common Clothes Moth is a small moth that is 6-7mm long. They have straw-colored wings with fringes on them. They shy away and will try to avoid the light. When they are disturbed, they will usually run away instead of flying.

common clothes moth just out of its pupa

The larvae of the common clothes moth are up to 10 mm long and cream-colored with brown heads.

These are also called Indian moths and these insects feed on some natural fibers such as wool, silk, and fur. As a result, they can cause considerable damage to clothing, furnishings, and carpets.

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

The Case-Bearing Clothes Moth is the most common moth pest in the UK. It is similar in size and habit to the Common Clothes Moth but is slightly darker in coloration, with three faint spots on each wing.

The adult moth lays eggs on natural fibers such as wool, cotton, and silk, and the larvae (maggots) feed on the fabric.

Case bearing clothes moth in its hard cuticle that looks like larva

The larval caterpillar of the Case-Bearing Clothes moth spins a silken cell around itself, which it carries as it moves and feeds. This habit leaves telltale cases on foodstuffs and fabrics, where they can be seen protruding from the surface.

Brown House Moth

The Brown House Moth is found in the United Kingdom. They are less destructive than other types of moths and typically only feed on natural fibers such as wool, cotton, and silk.

Brown house moth with its powdery substance on its body

The adult, Brown House Moth, or meal moth, grows to 8-14mm in length and is brown with three or four dark spots visible on its wings.

The Brown House Moth is a moth pest in the UK. The larvae, which grow to 20mm in length, feed on various fabrics and food, particularly furs, feathers, and fruit-based feeds.

White-Shouldered House Moth

The adult White-shouldered house moth is 8-10 mm long and has a distinctive white head. This moth species are often found in colder outdoor buildings and are less likely to become a problem indoors.

A white shouldered house moth  wit its distinct body

The larvae of the White-shouldered House Moth are cream-colored with a redhead. If you find them in a silk cocoon, they have finished feeding and are getting ready to pupate.

How to get rid of moths

Moths can be a big nuisance, especially if they are in large numbers. They can cause a lot of damage to fabrics and carpets. To get rid of moths, you can follow the tips given below:

  • Vacuum your carpets thoroughly, paying attention to the areas where they are regularly missed out during routine cleanings – such as areas of carpet under and behind furniture and along the skirting.
  • Wash all vulnerable fabrics, such as natural materials and soft furnishings, in the vicinity of the infestation.
  • Make sure to clean all your furniture- use soap, detergent, and vinegar solution to clean the floor and surfaces, including wardrobes and drawers that have been affected. Pay attention to any cracks or crevices. Moths are likely to nest in areas you leave untouched. Because they know they can nest and feed here. 
  • Wash everything- don’t forget to wash your old luggage cases, bags you haven’t used in ages, or containers and trinket boxes that larvae may be hiding. 
  • Empty your vacuum regularly if you’ve managed to collect the larvae in it. 
  • Finally, vacuum your home regularly to eliminate any larvae that may be present.

What kills moth larvae?

You can kill moth larvae by using a pesticide that contains pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide. The pesticide needs to be applied in a concentrated form and directly to the larvae.

Pyrethrin-based insecticides can kill moth larvae. Pyrethrin is a natural product that is released when the insecticide contacts water. This kills the moth larvae. Piperonyl butoxide helps to keep the insecticide from decomposing in the environment, making it more effective.

When these products are used correctly, pyrethrin-based pesticides can effectively control moth populations.

What do moths eat?

Moths go through different life stages, depending on what they eat. Some moths can feed on pollen, nectar, or other organic matter. Others depend on eating the flesh of animals or plants.

Moth larvae eat just about anything, while adult moths prefer to feed on nectar. This variety of food sources is what makes them so successful at invading many different types of environments.

Do moths bite humans?

Moths are mostly harmless creatures, but there are a few species that can sting. If a moth bites you, it is important to clean the area and apply ice. Most bites will not require any further medical attention.

Damage to the clothes due to moth

Moths don’t generally bite humans, but their larvae can. Larval moths have small teeth and mouths to chew on plant matter or clothing. So if you’re worried about being bit by a moth, you should be more concerned about the larval stage of the life cycle.

Final Thoughts

Moths can be a nuisance at home and in businesses. They often cause damage to clothes, carpets, and other fabric items. They are attracted to light, so using mothballs or another repellent in the areas where they are likely to congregate can help keep them away.

If you face an infestation, the best way to get rid of them is by dry cleaning the affected material.

In conclusion, the best way to get rid of moth pests is to clean up the area and eliminate any infested foodstuff. Ensure to keep your surroundings clean and free of clutter to discourage these pests from taking up residence in your home.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.