What do Moths Eat? The Feeding Habits of Moths

What do moths eat? this is a reasonable question asked by many but yet ignored by various researchers as it seems like something that shouldn’t be looked into talk more of being researched. Moths are sometimes mistaken to be butterflies but yet differences have been set out between these two:

  • Moths evolved before butterflies.
  • Moths have feathery antennae with no small ball at the end while butterflies have thin antennae with a small ball at the end.

But this isn’t what you’re interested in, you obviously want to know what these insects (moth) eat. Lucky for you this article is fully equipped with information on what moths eat.


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Facts About the Moth

What Do Moths Eat?
Moth Facts

The feeding habit of the moth can cause untold damage to some household items. You shouldn’t be worried about the adult moths as they cause less damage but instead be more concerned about the moth larvae as they cause most of the damages. In the world, there are over 160,000 species of moths much more than the number of butterflies.

Before knowing what these pests eat, you should know some examples of these damage-causing insects. Below is a list of the most popular moths in the world:

  • Common clothe moth
  • Peppered moth
  • Gypsy moth
  • Silkworm
  • Garden tiger moth
  • Atlas Moth
  • Luna moth
  • Indianmeal moth
  • Codling moth
  • Diamondback moth
  • Case-bearing clothes moth
  • Giant leopard moth
  • Creatonos gangis
  • African death’s head hawkmoth
  • White witch
  • White ermine
  • Bogong moth
  • Eyed hawkmoth
  • Japanese silk moth
  • Bella moth
  • Carpet moth
  • Muslin moth

As stated earlier, there are over 160,000 species of moths in the world but only a few have been listed above to give you the idea.


Do you want to learn more about moths?

Watch the video below;


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Moth Infestation

You needn’t worry that your house is dirty when you find these pests in your home as they can still be found even in the neatest home, but still, cleanliness measures should be considered as important and taken as a priority.

Spotting a moth infestation is a difficult task even for most professionals especially the clothing moth larvae. Webbing moths can easily be spotted as their webs can sometimes be seen with the naked eyes. The casemaking moths use the fiber they feed on to spin a case, you may think it easy to identify but it isn’t as these guys use the same fiber they eat to spin the case which means its the same color, it can’t be easily identified.

The easiest, less stressful way to spot a clothing moth larvae is checking for damages on your clothes mostly collars and cuffs or within hidden places along the seams. Adult moths are easy to find as they tend to swarm around the infestation area not far from the food source.

How to Prevent a Moth Infestation

There’s a popular proverb that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Cleanliness and proper maintenance of the household is an essential way of keeping these pests from coming into your home. Food stains, moisture, and urine tend to attract adult moths, therefore, clothes should be properly cleaned and dried before being stored. Dry-cleaning of silk, wool, and fiber materials is highly recommended as it kills existing eggs and keeps the clothe moisture-free.

Keeping your home clean with the use of vacuum cleaners can help trap eggs and prevent an infestation. After this process, the trash should be properly disposed of immediately to prevent survivors from reinfesting your home.

How to Get Rid of a Moth Infestation

As stated previously it is difficult to notice an infestation in the home early enough to prevent it. The method above is carried out to prevent an infestation, but you may already have an already vast infestation in your home. Below are simple steps to stop a moth infestation:

  • Dry-clean woolen, silk, and fiber materials to kill eggs and remove moisture.
  • Mothballs can be used to get rid of moths as it contains chemical paradichlorobenzene which suffocates the pests.
  • Freezing clothes at 18 degrees Celcius can also kill moths, as well as laundering clothes with soap and hot water 120-degree Celcius.
  • Brushing and sun-drying your clothes.
  • If pastry moths are found in food, seal it and dispose of it in the trash.
  • Seal all shelf-liner papers in plastic bags and dispose of it in the trash.
  • Vacuum cabinet shelves and dispose of the wastes in the trash.
  • Use pantry moth traps or clothing moth traps to get rid of them.

You shouldn’t have to use chemicals before you can get rid of moths, you still exterminate this pest by using moth traps, disposing contaminated food, and cleaning your clothes/pantry frequently. Listed above are the possible ways of getting rid of moth infestation for good. But in case you can’t handle it, contact a professional to do it.


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Life Cycle of a Moth

Adult moths do not only flutter near the food source to eat but also to mate. After mating the female moth lays about 40 to 50 eggs over a period of several weeks on fabric materials. The eggs are attached to the fiber with special adhesives and are very tiny, which is why it is difficult to identify within that period.

The hatching of the eggs into larvae depends on the temperature, as warm temperature makes it hatch faster (about 4 to 10 days) while low temperature slows down the process. As larvae, they can cause much havoc and are known to spin case or webs around themselves using the fiber material to act as camouflage and prevent them from being easily identified as they crawl on the clothing surface.

After causing enough damage and feeding to their satisfaction, the larvae emerge from the fabric material to floorboards or cracks and crevices in walls and pupate into adult moths. The pupating process takes about 10 days (warm temperature) or more than 3 months (cool temperature) all depending on the temperature.


What do Moths Eat?

Moths are known to feed on a variety of stuff depending on the type of moth in consideration. The clothing moths are of two categories (the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth) and feed on:

  • Wool
  • Fur
  • Silk
  • Feathers
  • Felt
  • Leather

In fact all animal fibers, but they do not feed on cotton clothing as it is vegetable-based.

The pantry moth, on the other hand, feeds on:

  • Cereal
  • Grains
  • Chocolate
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Birdseed
  • Dried fruits
  • Spices
  • Candies
  • Nectar

This species of moths feed on almost anything humans take in.


Are Moths Dangerous?

Well, these pests are not in any way harmful to humans except for those allergic to them and the damage they cause to clothing and food. The infestation of moths can lead to the following:

  • Spoilage of food and clothing material.
  • Wastage.
  • Increase in the cost of living in a household.

Benefits of Moths to Man

The feeding habits of these pests cannot be tolerated and so they must be gotten rid of. Though these pests cause serious damage, there are also some benefits of moths to man. Below is the list of these benefits:

  • Serve as a source of food as some of them can be eaten.
  • They pollinate flowers just like bats, ants, beetles, rodents, bee, etc. While feeding on its nectar and this ensures a good harvest.
  • They help in research purposes, as an increase or decrease in the population of moths in an area can indicate the effects of pesticides, air pollution, and climate changes.
  • As they eat leaves they make these plants evolve with special chemicals to make them less attractive to caterpillars, therefore, limiting the damage.


Moths feed on almost anything in the home and an infestation could spell trouble. Keeping the house clean, neat, and properly tidy is a good way of keeping these uninvited guests out of your home. This article did not only give you answers to what moths eat but also detailed insights on moth behaviors. We hope you enjoyed reading this article and found the answers more satisfying. For more info on the feeding habits of moths contact us

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