Are Moths Good Pollinators or Bad Household Pests?

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Wildlife conservation experts encourage residents in Illinois to tolerate good bugs including some species of moths. However, a few species of moths are considered nuisance pests, because the moths enter structures and cause damage to property. Here’s how to tell the difference between a good moth and a bad moth.

Good Moths Don’t Want to Come Inside

Moths are nocturnal creatures that are drawn to light. Although various moth species may congregate at your entry doors and become nuisances, the moths play a vital role in your local ecosystem. Moths are important food sources for bats, birds, and other wildlife.

Many species of moths provide key pollination services for native and non-native plants. Most moths’ reproductive cycles depend on outdoor environments including plants and trees. Leaves and branches are preferred sites to hold the moths’ eggs and become food hosts for the development of larvae and pupae.

A moth that doesn’t want to be in your home will frantically fly around the ceiling and beat itself against windows in attempts to return to the outdoors. The moth’s entry into your home was a complete accident no doubt facilitated by the bright light at the doorway or window where the moth entered.

Clothes moths and meal moths want to be inside your residence. They won’t make as much of a fuss when they come indoors, although you may notice a few meal moths fluttering about your pantry. Clothes moths, unlike most moths, hide from bright lights and seek out dark closets full of natural fibers.

Clothes Moth Caterpillars Eat Garment Fibers

Adult clothes moths don’t chew on your sweaters or make the hair fall out of your furs. Blame the garment damage on the clothes moths’ offspring. After clothes moth eggs hatch, the voracious insects consume everything from cashmere to feathers. Some clothes moths even consume meat, tobacco, spices, and dairy products when in their larval or caterpillar stages.

In nature, clothes moths lay their eggs close to the nests of other creatures. Clothes moth larvae consume keratin and are among the tiny number of insects that can digest keratin. The forest floor and nearby animal nests provide ample sources of keratin for larvae to eat. Clothes moths larvae travel up to 10 feet in search of keratin-rich food including antlers, feathers, fur, nails, beaks, and hooves.

In your home, the female clothes moth lays her eggs directly on fibers, then glues the eggs in place. The larvae may create tiny webs or cases in which they hide and feed.

Larvae of clothes moths chew on the following materials:

  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Cashmere
  • Angora
  • Fur
  • Leather
  • Feathers
  • Shed pet hair

If you own coats or jackets that have fur falling out in patches, or you’ve found strange holes in your woolen sweaters, suspect a clothes moth infestation. Contact your pest control professional to learn how to quarantine your affected clothes and manage the clothes moth infestation.

Meal Moths Want Your Food

Moths that infest your food frequently arrive in foodstuffs that were infested before you bought them. Products including grains, cereals, rice, nuts, birdseed, and pet food can harbor meal-moth infestations.

Indianmeal moths are common home invaders in Illinois. The Indianmeal moth is a small, gray-brown-colored moth with a band of copper on its front wing tips. The 2/3-inch caterpillars are dull white tinged with pink or green.

Signs of an Indianmeal-moth infestation include seeing the moths or larvae on walls and ceilings. You may also notice small silken webs over food sources including products in packages and pet food containers.

Stop the spread of Indianmeal moths in your cabinets by doing the following:

  • Empty all food cabinets.
  • Throw away all infected product.
  • Place non-infested products in sealable, moth-proof containers and jars.
  • Clean and disinfect cabinet interiors before replacing food containers.

Clean up spills in your cabinets right away to avoid leaving food for any remaining Indianmeal moth eggs. A few moths may remain after you clean your cabinets, but proper food storage will keep the moths’ larvae from infesting your food in the future.

Fascinating Moths Should Be Enjoyed

Many species of moths rival butterflies with their colorful patterns and shapes of their wings. Get to know some of the interesting moths that frequent your property to learn more about your local ecosystem.

Hummingbird moths are some of the most interesting creatures living in Illinois and throughout the U.S. The Hummingbird moth is an important and fascinating pollinator that qualifies as one of the good guys.

Hummingbird moths have delicate wings that allow the moths to hover and sip nectar with their long tongues like hummingbirds do. Hummingbird moths are often mistaken for the birds from which they get their name.

The snowberry clearwing and hummingbird clearwing are two common species of the hummingbird moth genus. You’ll spot most hummingbird moths flying in daylight hours seeking out long-necked, nectar-filled flowers.

Get rid of clothes and meal moths in your closets and pantry with a call to Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management. We offer a full range of structural pest-control solutions for residents in Berwyn, Rolling Meadows, Aurora, and the surrounding Illinois neighborhoods.