One can always get confused between moths and butterflies. Both are quite similar in appearance and have similar feeding habits. Many biologists believe that the butterflies have evolved from moths. It can be quite intriguing to study moths and their feeding habits.
So let’s begin with the most important question, what do moths eat? Moths consume most of the nutrition in their larval stage. They consume little or no food in their adult phase. If they do eat anything, it’s mostly liquids. They take out juice and nectar from small plants, leaves, fruits, and flowers. They can even dig deep inside the stems and wood in search of nutritious nectar. Moths are also known to drink from the urine puddles. The Moths larvae delightedly chomp on silk, wool, cotton, or any other natural fiber they find in the fields or in your closet. They even feed on pet fun in case they don’t find cloth fiber.
In the larval stage of Moths, they eat like gluttons. At the very start of their life, they consume materials rich in proteins such as cotton, fur, and wool.
In later stages when a Moth becomes an adult they feed on, liquids oozing out of fruits, sap, animal wounds, and even droppings of animals.
Adult Moths feed through the proboscis, which is a tube-like tongue that helps suck liquids. Moths can be very destructive if they enter a home. They have the capability to attack the clothes, your garden, and also your pantry.
What do Moth Larvae eat?
Moth Larvae is a feeding tube that is on the move. They are chowhounds.
The complete nutrition for the life cycle of the Moth is consumed in the larval stage. Its main aim as soon as it spurts into existence is to gain weight and proceed to the next phase of the life cycle.
The other indispensable aim of a moth in its youth is to avoid being killed by its predators. Young Moth possesses a chewing organ that is used to chew off anything in its proximity. It can include furniture, paper dust, hair, wool, oil, or fur.
It’s basically the young moth in its larval stage that creates havoc and not the docile adult which is happy with just a liquid diet.
The female moth lays several eggs under the leaves or on silk or woolen clothes. Wherever the eggs hatch the larvae feeds on the material before it pupates inside a silken case.
There are many species of Moth’s whose pupal stages lasts for even up to 4 years. There are also a few species that mature into adult moths within 90 days.
What do Adult Moths eat?
After the destructive larval stage, where the larva accomplishes its primary survival tasks, the larva grows and progresses to its pupal stage.
After the pupal stage, the Moth finally blooms into an adult. The major aim of the adult Moth is to mate and increase its number. For this purpose, it does not need as much nutrition as a larval moth needs to grow.
The chewing apparatus present in the Moth larva is transmuted into an apparatus that is tube-like called a proboscis in the adult Moth.
The proboscis helps the moth in taking up the fluids with its fluid-pumping mechanism. This fluid flows into the digestive tract where the nutrients are absorbed and then the waste is excreted out of the anus.
Along with nectars, moth also feeds on juices of decaying fruits and flowers, honeydew, manure liquids, tree sap, and even feces and animal droppings.
The adult Moths feed on food rich in minerals that enhance its virility such as sodium. Sodium helps in energy gain that is useful for reproductive purposes.
It’s quite surprising to know that some species of Moths do not feed at all in their adult stage. They use up the energy that they obtain as a young moth. The energy from the excess food that the young larvae consume is utilized in the adult phase to fly and reproduce.
Moths are nocturnal insects which makes it difficult for them to locate food because of its poor vision. Their antennas are larger than that of butterflies.
These antennas have excellent olfactory senses which enable Moths to feed on the flowers that bloom in the night. These flowers that bloom at night, give out a strong smell that is picked up by the moths that are floating in the air.
In between the larval and the adult stage of the moth, there is a pupal stage. The chance of the moth getting killed by its predator in its pupal stage is very high.
Hence, the pupa is designed in a way that it can camouflage itself. Also, the moth pupa can remain underground until it is ready for its adult phase.
Do Moths eat clothes?
Moths are very often referred to as textile pests. Actually, it’s not Moths that eat clothes, it’s the Moth larvae. They are very fond of the natural fiber in the clothes. Their appetite for clothes is more than you can imagine.
There are two species of Moths that eat clothes. These species are spread far and wide across the globe. The two species are the casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella) and the webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliell).
Both these species eat natural cloth fiber that can be found in carpets, drapes, curtains, clothes, bedding, and upholstery. They are known to eat silk, linen, hair, cotton, wool, feathers, etc.
The little Moth larvae can damage your clothes beyond imagination. If there is ever a time when you pull a wool sweater out of the closet and find tinny holes in it, be sure it’s damage caused by the moth larvae and you need to get rid of it as soon as possible. Even the cleanest homes can have Moths as invaders which can create untold damage.
An adult female Moth after mating lays about 40 to 50 eggs over a period of time and on suitable places or fabrics like fur, cashmere, and fur.
The eggs are laid inside the cloth fiber and attached there with a special kind of adhesive. The eggs are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. This is why you cannot catch a moth activity until you notice holes in your clothes.
Do Moths eat Leaves?
Moths spend most of their time in the wilderness between flowers and dense foliage. Adult Moths cause no damage to the plants or their leaves because they have no mouthparts to crew the leaves or bite them.
It is the larvae that consume a large amount of leaf matter and store that energy for their metamorphosis. Depending upon the Moth species, the larvae feed on different plant leaves to grow into an adult and gain weight.
The caterpillars of Moth consume the leaves till they are big enough to spin a cocoon and turn into pupae for their next stage of life. Without feeding on leaves or fabric, the moth larvae cannot progress to the next stage and would eventually die of hunger.
On average, Moth larvae can consume one complete leaf of their much-loved plant. Several numbers of larvae on one plant can lead to the death of the plant. If the leaves are all damaged and the feeding has to continue, then the caterpillar to supplement its leaf diet may feed on the petals of the flowers.
Moths and plants share a Survival Relationship. Plants not only are a major food source, but they even provide a hiding place for moths.
The foliage hides the Moths very well from their predators till the moth is big enough to give a hard time to the predator. The feces of the Moth add to the nutrition of the soil. Also, the moths may return to the same plant they fed on to pollinate the flowers and to drink the nectar from the flower.
Where do Moths live and feed?
Moths have a very short life span of about two weeks.
In those two weeks, moth infestation can develop rapidly. Their number increases very quickly and they spread to almost any space. They possess extreme mobility. Their skill of scurrying around surfaces and even walls is astonishing.
They find an entrance and refuge through any kind of holes, cracks, or crevices. Once they get to a corner, they can spread to other parts of the house very fast. Leaving a hole unattended in a wall or cupboard means an open invitation for the moth to come and live in your home.
Food sources attract moths like sugar attracts ants. Once a food source is found by them, they quickly can set up their large camp nearby.
Even though they live for a short while they can cover about a few hundred meters in that lifetime. To keep the Moths out of your way you would need a robust barrier.
How to get rid of Moths?
If you have encountered a Moth infestation in your cupboard or your pantry then you need not worry. There are several ways and means to get rid of them.
To eliminate Moths in your house, you first need to understand their lifecycle. Once their lifecycle is understood, you can take steps to kill them according to their breed, life, hide, and feed.
Common ways to prevent Moths invading your home:-
1. The age-old remedy to combat moths in your clothes is a technique that involves a combination of two steps, sunbathing your clothes and brushing them. Brushing clothes will destroy the eggs of the moth and sweep the larvae embedded inside the fabric to the surface.
Moth larvae hate sunlight and while escaping this sunlight while you sunbathe your clothes, they fall off the fabric. Hang your clothes in the sun for several hours. This is the best natural method to get rid of Moths residing inside your cloth fiber.
2. Dry clean woolen items that are meant to be dry cleaned before packing them at the end of the season.
3. Mothballs are another grand mom’s remedy to get rid of moths and kill them forever. Mothballs are made of a chemical called paradichlorobenzene. This chemical is poisonous and suffocates the Moth and its larva. Keep this Mothball away from pets and kids.
4. Create a Moth feeder in your garden or your backyard. This will stop the Moths from entering your home as they are able to find food outside only.
5. To get rid of Moths and their young ones you need to set Moth traps to catch the adults. Once the adults are stopped for spreading, automatically there won’t be any larvae.
6. Vacuuming regularly in affected areas can be highly effective.
7. Launder the items that can be affected with Moths such as the clothes in hot soapy water. Fabric washed in 120 degrees Fahrenheit of water for about 20 to 30 minutes kills Moths at all stages in their life cycle.
8. Washing of the food stains, perspiration, and urine off the garments reduces their attraction for pests.
Do moths eat mosquitoes? No, Moths don’t eat mosquitoes. There are many species of Moths that do not eat at all. These species when they hatch out of their cocoons in the pupal stage expel their digestive system. Their only energy source is the food they intake during their larval stage.
Moths can ingest plant lice and scale insects because they are slow-moving creatures that cannot fly away. Moths would have eaten mosquitoes had they been slow and stood still.
Can a Moth Bite Humans? Moths don’t bite humans but they can be very dangerous for them and their pets. The feces and cocoons of the moth are known to contaminate food. If this contaminated food is ingested by humans they can fall ill.
Many humans have allergic reactions to touching fabrics and foods infested by Moth. You can rest assured that a moth in your home won’t bite you, as most of them don’t even have proper biting mouthparts, but they have the ability to wreck your pantry and cupboards.