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  Bug University - Moths

Indian Meal Moth

Actual size: up to 0.5 in.

Moths can infest clothing and stored foods. Clothes moths are major pests of fabric and other items made of natural fibers. Adult moths do not feed on fabrics-only the caterpillars damage the fabrics. Clothes moths larvae commonly feed on wool, feathers, fur, hair, upholstered furniture and leather. They can feed on a mixture of natural and synthetic fabrics. However, they cannot feed on fabrics made only of synthetic fibers.

Unlike other moths, clothes moths are not attracted to light.

Most stored-food pests come into the home through infested foods. If a food item remains unused and exposed in some dark corner or drawer long enough, it can become infested. All items are susceptible, including rice, grains, flour, spices, cereals, grits, cake mixes and ice cream cones. Dried flower arrangements also often harbor infestations.

The most common clothes moths are the Webbing Clothes Moth and the Case-Making Clothes Moth. Other moths, such as the Mediterranean Flour Moth and Indian Meal Moth infest stored foods like grains and flour.

Distinguising Marks:

 Clothes moths are small yellowish or brownish moths less than 1/2" long.
 Clothes moths' wings do not have spots.

Life Cycle:

 Adults lay eggs on products that the larvae will consume.
 Each female moth can lay from 100 to 150 eggs.
 Eggs hatch in five days.
 Small white caterpillars vary in size from 1/16" newly hatched to 1/3" fully grown.
 Larvae live in cases that are enlarged as they grow.
 When larvae pupate, the case is transformed into a tough cocoon.
 The adult moth emerges in one to four weeks.
 Can live from two months to 2 1/2 years.

Disease & Damage:
Damaged fabrics often have holes with silken cases or silken threads on the surface.

Follow these sanitation tips for effective moth control:

 Keep clothes brushed and cleaned, especially items that will be stored for any length of time.
 Sweep or vacuum regularly to remove woolen lint or hair from floors, shelves and drawers.
 Clothing bags, cedar closets and cedar chests provide protection only when stored materials are free from infestation.
 In the kitchen, vacuum shelves and cabinets where food is stored to pick up loose infested material.
 Store food items in closed, plastic containers.
 Regularly inspect all susceptible foods and discard badly infested items.

If you would like more information or tips for removing moths from your home, please contact our Consumer Relationship Center.
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