Moths are a group of insects that are similar to butterflies in many ways but have distinct differences to set them apart. For example, moths are mostly nocturnal. They also do not have the same thin antennae with little balls or clubs at the end that butterflies have; instead, moths usually have feathery antennae without any ball or club at the end. There are believed to be in excess of 160,000 different species of moth.
When it comes to pest moths, the Indian meal moth is one of the worst species for homeowners to worry about. The Indian meal moth usually has a wingspread of 16-20mm. The wings are brown or copper-like in color, with a grey band. Larvae are dirty white with reddish-brown heads.
Female Indian meal moths can lay up to 400 eggs over the course of 2-3 weeks. They lay their eggs at night, and it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months for the larvae to fully develop. The average Indian meal moth life cycle is between 25 and 135 days, with approximately six generations per year.
Indian meal moths are commonly found in the kitchen. They are drawn to certain types of food products, including grains, nuts, biscuits, crackers, dried pet food, and seeds. The larvae produce a kind of silk-like web over the foods they eat, which can be quite easy to spot. The larvae will then move into little cracks in the foods, feeding gradually while staying near their silk web. Once they reach maturity, these larvae will pupate inside nearby cracks and crevices.
To deal with an Indian meal moth infestation, any infested items need to be disposed of right away and other items that could attract more moths should be sealed inside containers. The kitchen or pantry area may also require deep cleaning and vacuuming. Pheromone traps and residual pesticides may also be used.
Clothing moths are another type of moth that can be a bother to homeowners. These moths can measure anywhere from 5 to 8mm in length. They have golden and brown colors, with dark spots along with the wings. In their larval form, these moths are small caterpillars living in little silken cases with dark heads and brown or block thoracic sections.
Adult female clothing moths start laying eggs the day they emerge as adults. They can lay 30-50 eggs at a time. Each larva will feed for between one and three months, molting up to 11 times during its life cycle. They then pupate inside their silken cases, with a full development time from egg to adult of up to 116 days.
Clothing moths, as the name implies are drawn to fabrics and items of clothing. They tend to prefer products of animal origin like wools, skins, and furs, but will also feed on plant-based products too, such as tobacco. Males are stronger fliers than females and these moths generally live in dark places and avoid light as much as possible.
If you notice moth damage to clothing, you may have a clothing moth infestation. A pest control operative can help you identify the problem, find the areas and products the moths are targeting, and eliminate them with the help of residual insecticides.
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