Moths vary greatly in size, ranging in wingspan from about 4 mm (0.16 inch) to nearly 30 cm (about 1 foot). Highly adapted, they live in all but polar habitats. The wings, bodies, and legs of moths are covered with dustlike scales that come off if the insect is handled. Compared with butterflies, moths have stouter bodies and duller colouring. Moths also have distinctive feathery or thick antennae. When at rest, moths either fold their wings tentlike over the body, wrap them around the body, or hold them extended at their sides, whereas butterflies hold their wings vertically.
Can moths bite you?
The vast majority of adult moths don’t have mouths and are incapable of biting anything, much less you. For the most part, they also don’t sting. However, moths begin life as larvae, called caterpillars, before they go through a metamorphosis process and emerge with wings.
Some of these caterpillars are responsible for the holes you find in clothing. Not only can they eat through fabrics, but a few of them can cause skin irritation and worse in humans.
However, the irritation is caused by stings, not bites. Out of 165,000 moth species, only about 150 of them can sting. Within the United States, more than 50 caterpillar species are known for causing a painful sting.
As caterpillars mature and become moths, they lose their tiny teeth and their mouths become atrophied and disappear. Adults moths use a long, straw-shaped organ to drink nectar and other liquids. That’s why almost all the adult moths you may see flying around aren’t physically capable of biting you.
There are notable exceptions to this rule. Moths from the genus Calyptra, also known as vampire moths or fruit-piercing moths, are equipped with a feeding tube (proboscis) with tiny projections that can penetrate human skin.
These moths are native to some areas of Europe, Africa, and Asia, and they mostly prefer to use their proboscis to suck out the nectar from sweet fruits.
Removing and Preventing Moths in Your Home
- Fill your home with cedar. You can also use cedar oilin a spray bottle diluted with water or in a diffuser that can spread the scent of cedar. Moths and other insects are repelled by the pheromones in cedar.
- Combine dried, crushed, and powdered herbs. Combine the following in a bag that you can hang anywhere you keep clothes or food: lavender, bay leaves, cloves, rosemary, and thyme. Moths also hate the odors of these herbs. You can also dilute the essential oils of these herbs and spray them on your clothes and belongings or use a diffuser with one or more combinations of these oils.
- Use a sticky trap. Cover it with moth pheromones to attract moths and get them stuck to the surface. Once they’re stuck, they can’t escape, and they eventually die.
- Keep your floors, carpets, and moldings vacuumed and dusted. Try to clean your home with a vacuum, dusting cloths, and eco-friendly cleaners to keep your home free of dust and dirt, which can draw moths into your home. Be sure to empty vacuum contents and wash dusting cloths regularly so that eggs and larvae don’t grow and develop.
- Freeze any clothes or belongings that show signs of moths. Keep these items in the freezer for at least 24 hours to make sure any larvae are killed off.
- Wash clothes that contain larvae or eggs. Use hot water and high heat in the dryer, if possible. For clothes that can’t be washed or dried hot, put wet clothes in the freezer for a day to kill larvae and eggs.
- Use vinegar to help. Wash and scrub any areas you found larvae or eggs with a vinegar and water solution.
- Consider calling a pest control service. Sometimes, removal and prevention techniques just aren’t enough. If you have a moth infestation that’s out of control, contact a local pest control company and see what solutions they can offer.
Recommended Trapall Products
- Non-toxic, eco-friendly, safe and easy to wash
- Just hang or place where you see the moths flying around. Comes with a string to hang.
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Britannica. (n. d.). Moth. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/moth-insect
Watson, K. (2020, April 21). Do Moths Bite. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/do-moths-bite