House Moth Identification

Webbing Clothes Moth or Common Clothes Moth

Finding a moth in your home is going to raise a lot of questions. How did it get here? Is the moth after your clothing or is it harmless? You might even wonder if finding a single moth is worthy of concern. Even one adult moth raises the chance of an infestation, so you need to know what to look for and how to protect your home. The first step? Knowing how to identify the moths in your home.

What are Moths?

It is believed that there are at least over 160,000 types of moths that we know of, but there are more species that haven’t even been researched yet. While moths are closely related to butterflies, their food sources are different. Compared to the vibrant colors of butterflies, the majority of moths that you see in your home are neutral colors, like gray, brown, white, and cream.

Moths rest their wings flat against their back, which is one defining feature that can help you with household moth identification.

Types of House Moths

When people talk about household moth identification, they are typically talking about two categories: Pantry Moths and Clothes Moths. The species of moths in each category have similar appetites, but their behavior, appearance and lifespan differ slightly from 30 - 45 days.

Pantry Moths

the life cycle of a Pantry Moth

As you may be able to guess, a Pantry Moth is found in the pantry! They thrive anywhere where unprotected grains are found, including rice, cereal, dry pet food, crackers, and similar goods. They may even target nuts, dried fruit, spices, and chocolate.

Generally, Pantry Moth larvae leave behind silken webbing and excrement, and will be seen squirming around inside bags of flour or containers. There are four common types of pantry moths to keep an eye out for:

Mediterranean Pantry Moth

the Mediterranean Pantry Moth

Protect your flour. The Mediterranean Pantry Moth is a highly damaging moth. While these moths tend to go after flour, they will also lay eggs near breakfast cereal, dried grain, bran, and oatmeal. An infestation can be identified by the larvae's silken webbing that causes the food source and moth larvae to clump together.

Mediterranean Pantry Moths are a gray color with black zigzags on their wings. The hind legs are an off-white color. When fully grown, these moths are about 23mm long. They also have a resting pose where the forelegs are extended above the head, so the body slopes. No other pantry moth does this.

Larvae can be white or slightly pink and have a dark head. Some have black dots on the body.

Brown House Moth

the Brown House Moth

The Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudopretella) is thought to have originated in Asia. While falling into the pantry moth category, Brown House Moths will be found throughout the home. An adult Brown House Moth is about 8-14mm long and has a 15-26mm wide wingspan. The wings are usually shades of brown mottled with darker spots on the wings and body.

You can find the larvae in the pantry, carpets, and clothing. A larva is about 6mm long and has an off-white body with a light brown head. They feed on dried food, flour, rice, oatmeal, potatoes, bread, and even natural fibers woven into clothing and other textiles.

White Shouldered House Moth

white shouldered house moth
Attribution: © entomart

Attracted to light, the White Shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) is found fluttering around light bulbs within homes, factories, and other buildings. Warmer temperatures and central heating will keep adult moths active throughout the year, and the larvae are omnivorous. Moths will lay their eggs on a food source suitable for their larvae. For example protein-based fibers such as wool, fur, feathers,leather and suede. They also eat anything with grains, such as bran cereal, flour, seed, dried beans, legumes, and oatmeal.

The defining feature of White Shouldered House Moths is the white head and white patch on the upper shoulders. They have long brown antennae, a light brown base with some fringe on the wings, and darker mottling throughout. The ends of the wings are also tapered. Adults are between 6.3-10.5 mm long, with females being larger; the wingspan is 10-25mm. Their larvae have red heads and cream bodies.

Indian Meal Moth

Many people seeking out house moth identification are looking for information on the Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpunctella), also known as Flour Moths or Pantry Moths. These moths have a unique appearance, including a small bronze colored head, bronze shoulders, and a patch of light brown on the upper body. The ends of the two-tone wings are darker, with a slight fringe.

Adult Indian Meal Moths grow about 8-10mm long and have a wingspan of 16-20mm wide. The larva has a brownish head and cream colored body. Adult Meal Moths prefer dark, cool places and will lay their eggs anywhere they can find unprotected cereal, dried fruits, vegetables, bread, flour, pasta, rice, nuts, and even chocolate!

Evidence of an Indian Meal Moth infestation comes in the form of the larvae wriggling within food, or the discovery of food bound together by webbing.

Monitor Pantry Moths with our Pantry Moth Traps

Clothes Moths

the lifecycle of a Common Clothes Moth

Unlike Pantry Moths, Clothes Moths target protein-based fibers such as furs, silk, wool, and linen. You will find these moths in dark undisturbed spaces such as your attic, closets or basement.

Signs of a clothes moth infestation include:

  • Silken strands /webbing
  • Excrement with the appearance of small grains of sand
  • Holes in clothing
  • Long, cylindrical silk cases, sometimes occupied by larvae

Webbing Clothes Moth or Common Clothes Moth

the Webbing Clothes Moth or Common Clothes Moth

One of the most commonly confronted and damaging in this list is the Webbing Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella). These are small moths, reaching about 6-7mm in length when mature. Characterized by white antennae, a fuzzy brown head, and fringed white wings, they often crawl around rather than fly.

The larvae are longer, about 10mm long and infest a wide range of materials made from natural fibers; including your knitwear, carpets, rugs and other textiles.

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

 the Case-Bearing Clothes Moth and its Larva

Rarer than the Webbing Clothes Moth, the Case-Bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea Pellionella) has a larva that fabricates a tube of silk fibers and food debris around itself that adheres to their bodies as they eat. The tube looks a bit like a grain of rice, but if you look closely, there will be the brownish-red head of a larva protruding out of one end.

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth adults are darker than the common clothes moth, 6-7mm long, and have a trio of spots on their wings.

Monitor Clothes Moths with our Natural Clothes Moth Traps

Now You Know About House Moths

Hopefully, these descriptions will help you to identify the moths in your home, putting you in a better position to tackle your moth infestation. Pantry Moth Traps and Clothes & Carpet Moth Traps are available at Moth-Prevention.com.

About MothPrevention®

MothPrevention® speak to customers every day about their clothes moth issues - clothes moths are a species that are ever increasing and that can cause significant damage to clothes, carpets and other home textiles.

To date, we’ve helped over 150,000 customers deal with their moth problems. We have developed professional grade solutions including proprietary pheromones, not available from anybody else in the USA, and engineered in Germany to the highest production standards.

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