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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Which Moth is Eating my Stuff

Clothes Moths come in two verities the Casemaking & Webbing moth. The caterpillar (larval stage) of these insects does the actual damage. Adult moths are yellowish-tan to buff-colored with a wingspread of about 1/2 inch. The larvae are white with brown to black heads, and are also about 1/2 inch long. Female may lay 100 to 300 eggs. In the summer or in a heated room the eggs will hatch in one to two weeks. The tiny larvae begin feeding and it can take up to 200 days for them to mature. They the pupa stages lasts between 1 and 4 weeks at which time the adults hatch and begin the cycle again.

Clothes moths feed on animal products including wool, mohair, hair, bristles, fur, feathers and dead insects. Household items that may be attacked include clothing, blankets, comforters, rugs, carpets, drapes, pillows, hair mattresses, brushes, upholstery, furs, piano felts or other natural or synthetic fabrics mixed with wool.

Clothes moths dislike sunshine and are not attracted to artificial light. They are often found in dark places but can be seen fluttering in dark corners. Infestations often start when wool items are improperly stored in dark places and left undisturbed for long periods of time. Silken feeding tubes or hard protective cases are often found on infested fabrics.

There are several steps one can take to protect clothing and furnishings against damage by clothes moths.
a) Establish a regular inspection program of all susceptible items at least once a year.
b) Consider discarding infested item, especially if unimportant.
c) Vacuum regularly cleaning of rugs, carpets, drapes, upholstered furniture, pet bedding, closets, cracks and crevices in floors, and areas inside and behind heaters, furnace air ducts and vents is important.
d) Clean garments regularly.
e) Store articles in a clean air-tight storage container.
f) Place garments in cold storage where temperatures remain below 40° F.
g) If you have a widespread infestation, it is advisable to enlist the services of a pest management professional.

Indian Meal Moths infest stored grains and grain products. The larval stage feeds on flour and meal products, dried fruits, nuts, bird food, and dried pet foods. As the larva feeds it spins a web, leaving behind a silken thread wherever it crawls. Small particles of food often adhere loosely to the thread, making it conspicuous. Many times an infestation is noticed when moths are seen flying around the home in the evening. They are attracted to lights and often appear in front of the television screen.

The Indian meal moth has a wingspan of about 3/4 inch (18-20mm). The color of the outer two-thirds of the wings is bronze to reddish brown, while the part of the wings closer to the body is grayish white. The larvae (caterpillars) are about 1/2 inch (12-13mm) long when mature. They are a dirty white color, sometimes exhibiting pink or green hues. The pupa (resting stage) is in a loose silken cocoon spun by the larva, and is a light brown color.

A female Indian meal moth can lay from 100 to 300 eggs during her lifetime. Within a few days the tiny whitish caterpillars emerge. These larvae feed for a few weeks, and when they are mature they often crawl up the walls to where wall and ceiling meet, or crawl to the top of the cupboard, to spin the silken cocoon in which they pupate and from which the adult moth emerges. Mating occurs and the life cycle repeats itself. In warm weather the cycle may take only 6 to 8 weeks.

The following suggestions may be useful in bringing an infestation quickly under control.

1. Carefully examine all susceptible foods that may have been exposed to infested material.
a) Do not forget bird seed, dog, cat and fish foods.
b) Insects may even be found in paper wrapped products that have not yet been opened in the home.
c) All infested packages should be discarded. There is no satisfactory way of separating the insects from the food products, flour, or meal.

2. The contents from opened packages that appear to be uninfected should be transferred to glass jars with tight fitting tops. It is possible that eggs were laid in these products and they may hatch later and lead to a new infestation if not contained.

3. Remove all food containers and utensils from the infested area (shelf paper may also need to be removed) and clean thoroughly, first with a vacuum cleaner and then with soap and water. Special attention should be paid to cracks and corners where bits of flour, meal or other products may have accumulated. Remove and destroy cocoons that may be found on ceiling of cupboards, or where room walls and ceiling meet.

4. In many cases thorough clean-up will control these insects.

5. If moths reappear, it may be advisable to enlist the services of a pest management professional.


Mikey Bravo said...

I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of moths in this area. Thank you so much for all of these pest control tips. I will be trying them out shortly. It will be great to get rid of all of these bugs.

Jade Starton said...

Ugh, I hate bugs. But knowledge is a great way to fend them off. I am definitely a supporter of finding ways to first prevent the bugs, rather than allowing them to become numerous enough that I have nightmares and have to resort to a Tucson exterminator. Thanks for the info.

Alice Wilde said...

There are a lot of different moths out there, and if you want to treat the problem effectively, you've really got to know which one you're dealing with. It makes things easier when you call and explain the problem to your pest control Orlandoo specialist. Thanks for posting this!

slockwood252 said...

Thanks for this post! My brother has been telling me about his ant infestation and it's creeping me out. He's been looking for someone who does pest control in Minneapolis to help him get rid of them.

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