What are Moths and How Do I Prevent an Infestation?

A closeup of a moth. A closeup of a moth.

Moths are insects that belong to the order Lepidoptera. These insects are typically nocturnal and less colorful than butterflies. Most importantly, moths are considered pests. If you are experiencing an infestation moths can damage or destroy food and fabric products, disturb sensitive materials, and create health hazards.

Like any other pest, the best way to combat a moth infestation is to learn more about the pest itself. We’re here to help you defend your commercial property against these pesky pests by providing information on all-things moths. Here’s what you need to know about the common pest moths and how to get rid of them:

What do moths look like? 

What a moth looks like depends on what kind of moth it is. There are two common categories of moths: pantry moths and fabric moths. The most common pantry moth is the Indian meal moth. There are two common fabric moths: the webbing moth and the casemaking clothes moth. Each of these moths are different—here’s a closer look at them: 

The Indian Meal Moth is, on average, 1/2 inch long with a wingspan of about 3/4 inches. Their wings are multi-colored in shades of rust, bronze, and copper. They have grey or silver markings close to their heads and brown or grey-brown thoraxes and abdomens. 

The Webbing Clothes Moth has a body that measures around 1/4 of an inch with a 1/2 inch wingspan. It’s lighter in color; typically golden, yellow, or tan with reddish-gold accents. It has split “sets” of wings. The lower set is lighter in shade than the upper set.

The Casemaking Clothes Moth is similar in size to the Webbing Clothes Moth with an average 1/4 inch body and 1/2 inch wingspan. It is also golden or yellowish-tan in coloring. Casemaking Clothes Moths have darker wings than Webbing Clothes Moths, and they have small, black spots all over them.

What do moths eat? 

Moths consume most of their nutrition in their larval stage. If adult moths do consume anything, it’s usually liquids from small plants, leaves, fruits, and flowers. Moth larvae, on the other hand, eat natural fibers. These fibers can be found in clothing, carpet, drapes, upholster, and more. If moths eventually run out of natural fibers, they may even snack on pet fur!

What attracts moths to my commercial property? 

Webbing and casemaking clothes moths are attracted to fabric. The properties they’re most likely to bother will be manufacturers and retail properties. Fabric moths are most likely to infest places like storage rooms where they can find fabric to eat in the dark. Clothes moths leave plenty of signs of an infestation. Look for small bite holes, torn fabric, larvae or eggs on clothing, and tracks in dust on flat surfaces. 

The Indian meal moth operates a little differently than the clothes moths, however. The Indian meal moth is most attracted to food service businesses where they can find grains. They like to hide in pantries, cupboards, and anywhere else that’s dark and filled with food. Like clothes moths, the Indian meal moth lays eggs where they eat. Adult moths don’t eat, so if you find moth damage it’s because moth larvae were born nearby.

How can I prevent moths? 

With both of these varieties of moths, your second line of defense (after knowledge) is going to be vigilance.

  • To prevent Indian Meal Moths, take away their food by transferring food into hard plastic containers.
  • To prevent clothes moths, make sure the humidity levels in your commercial property aren’t too high. If you’re storing clothing long term, place it in plastic containers. To prevent both types of moth, stay on top of cleaning. Insects hate tidy, dust-free, nibble-free environments.

However, when it comes to moth removal, your best bet is to contact a local commercial pest control company. The experts at Assured Environments are prepared to get and keep moths out of your property—contact Assured today!