How Do You Know You Have a Moth Problem?


A moth can quickly ruin your mood by flying in your face or noisily going round the light bulb. These little pests can also go as far as eating through your clothes and foods. It may take some time before you realize that you have an infestation in your house.

How do you know that you have a moth problem? One of the first things you will notice is that your stored clothes, carpets, or fabrics will have irregular holes in them. You might also notice some holes in food bags and some moths flying or crawling around the house.

This article will go into a lot more detail into all the signs that you need to watch out for to help you know whether or not you could be dealing with a moth infestation. In the end, it shall also offers several solutions that you can start implementing today if you are dealing with a moth problem.

Signs that you have a moth infestation

Most people realize they have a moth problem when they notice the damage done to their clothes. Here are some other common telltale signs.

  • An obvious sign is irregularly shaped holes in your clothes. The holes will be larger if the larvae are left undisturbed for a long time.
  • You may notice silky furrows on the tunnels that are found in knitted garments.
  • With fur items like fur coats, too much shedding can be a sign that moths have gotten to them.
  • Larvae can leave their outer casings on the clothes. These will look like small tubes.
  • You can also spot the moths themselves around your house. Adult moths mostly crawl, but some may fly around.
  • Some moths’ larvae attack your food store, so you might notice holes in food bags.
  • You can find moth eggs and larvae inside your food storage containers or in the fabric of your clothes.
  • Moths spend the pupa phase of their growth in silk cocoons. They emerge as fully grown moths and leave the cocoons behind.
  • Some moths leave webbing and their droppings on the corners of rooms.

How do moths cause damage?

It might come as a surprise, but moths don’t directly destroy your things, it’s the larvae that are responsible for this. Moths go through 4 stages of development, egg, larvae, pupa, and adult.

The adult female will look for a suitable place to lay its eggs. This is usually on stored clothes or in food tins. Once these eggs hatch, they enter their most destructive phase. They are now larvae, and they need as much food as they can get. This usually results in them eating through anything around them, which happens to be your food, clothes, or carpet. The moth eats the protein fiber that is found in natural fabrics like wool. If you find clothes made out of synthetic fiber like polyester with moth-caused holes, it might be because the garment has food remains or sweat.

The larvae can eat through your clothes for up to 6 months before they grow to the pupa stage.

When the moth larvae morph into an adult, it becomes less destructive since it does not have the mouth parts needed to break down solid foods.

Types of moths

There are four types of moths that can be a nuisance to you. They are grouped based on the materials that their larvae commonly attack.

  • Brown house moth – This is the moth type you are most likely to see in your house. Their larvae usually eat through animal materials like leather and feathers.
  • White-shouldered house moth – Commonly known as pantry moths, this species occurs less frequently than all the others. Their larvae don’t usually attack fabrics but they eat a wide range of foods. Pantry moths love the light so you can find them around your light bulb.
  • Common clothes moth – This moth lays cream-colored eggs. The eggs hatch into creamy white larvae which like to eat through natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and wool. These moths don’t like light, so you are more likely to find them hiding in dark corners of the house.
  • Case bearing clothes moth – This moth has larvae with a brown head and white body. They also eat through clothes but they leave regularly shaped holes on the fabric.

How do moths come into your house?

You might be asking yourself how these insects found their way into your home. There are 2 possible ways: by themselves or through you. Pantry moths are photogenic, and they may fly into your house because they are attracted to the light. Clothes moths may get in through open windows once you switch off your lights.

You can introduce moths into your home through the things you bring in. Pantry moths come in through foodstuffs. They are more likely to be found in dry foods like grains. Clothes moths get into your house if you bring in an item that has the moth’s eggs or larvae hidden on them.

What problems do moths cause?

Most people usually notice they have a moth problem after they have inflicted a lot of damage. Here are some of the most common problems moths cause:

1. Holes

This is the most common loss that moths cause. If you nip the infestation in the bud early, you might get away with one or two holes on your garment. In severe cases, the moth larvae leave gaping holes that can’t be fixed.

2. A hole in your pocket

Although moths will destroy your property, they don’t stop there. You are likely to part with a lot of money trying to repair and replace damaged items. It will also cost you some money to get rid of the moths themselves.

3. Moth eggs

if you notice the infestation early, you won’t have a lot of items with holes, but you might find a couple of your favorite clothes with moth eggs laid on them. Pantry moths also lay their eggs in dry food packages. You might have to replace your clothes and spend more money on food.

Aside from causing physical damage, moths can also ruin your mood in the blink of an eye. Some of the irritating things that adult moths do are:

  • Flying into faces. Many a time, a moth has flown into my face and refused to get off. As you struggle to get it off, the moth will not hesitate to leave its dust on your face.
  • Moths struggle to get out of the house, and they show this by repeatedly hitting the light bulb. This doesn’t directly affect you, but it is irritating.
  • These little vermin can also be noisy. Although they are nocturnal, moths sure do make a lot of noise trying to find their way around the dark. Their constant bumping into objects might have you lying in bed with your eyes wide open.
  • When the room finally goes silent, it is not usually a relief. Most of the time, it is a signal that the moth is on top of you or it is close by. What follows is the moth crawling on you, an unwelcome feeling.

Related questions

The good news is that aside from the damages that moths cause on your belongings, they are not considered directly harmful to human beings. Moths do not bite or sting, so they can’t be venomous.

On the downside, clothes moths can severely damage your clothes. Pantry moths target your dry foods and grains and once they have fed on them, they are no longer fit for consumption. Also, although they are not known to carry disease, they could contaminate food and cause you to be sick.

While adult moths don’t pose any threats to your skin or overall health, but their larvae do. Some of them have spines on their bodies. When they come into contact with your skin, you may experience itching, blisters, rashes, and scaly skin.

Generally, a moth can live for up to 90 days. However, females tend to live for only half of this time. During its adulthood, a female moth can lay around 50 eggs in 3 weeks and die soon after.

So, why do moth larvae eat clothes? Well, clothes made out of natural material contain the protein keratin, which is also found in our skin, hair, and nails. Keratin provides the moth’s eggs and larvae with the nutrients they need to grow.

Moth infestations can spread very fast. Although the moths have a short lifespan, they breed through most of it. It takes a moth egg around ten days to hatch in the warmer months and even up to a month during the colder months.

If you already have moths in your house, you can get rid of them by using a pyrethrin insecticide multiple times. You will also have to wash your clothes and their storage space and expose them to high heat or low temperatures. Pastry moths can be eradicated by throwing out the infested foods. You can also use moth traps to capture the adults and prevent them from breeding.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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