Everybody loves butterflies as all they do is flutter around, minding their own business and looking pretty. Not so many people like their creepy cousins, the moths, though. And rightly so.
Moths are the failures of the butterfly world. They arrogantly assume that they are as beloved as their talented brethren while adding nothing of value to the world.
We have all suffered through the varied assaults launched by moths, whether it is a moth crashing into your face, spreading moth dust everywhere, or loudly flapping while trying to escape the room by headbutting the light bulb.
Thankfully, these assaults are mildly annoying, but moth tactics do not stop here. When they are not causing distress, they are eating our clothes, carpets, curtains, and dry food products. They are truly despicable creatures.
What are moths?
Mostly dusty, reject butterflies.
Moths are members of the Lepidoptera insect family, just like their colourful cousins. They also share the same life cycle from larvae to cocoon and to their final form. Most of the 160,000 types of moth are nocturnal, but all of them are just waiting for a chance to ruin someone’s day.
There are over 2500 types of moth in the UK, but the ones which you should worry about are the clothes moth, the carpet moth, and the food moth. Although they lay their eggs in different places, the larvae of all three devour everything in sight after hatching.
The similarities in the larvae don’t stop at their unquenchable thirst for destruction. They also look alike! The larvae are usually around 1-2mm in length and are creamy-white in colour.
It is the moth larvae which destroy our favourite clothes, while adult moths have an appetite for flower nectar, not sweaters.
What type of moths would plague you in the UK?
The following types of moth all seek to destroy everything you hold dear while crazily laughing in tiny voices, like the monsters they are.
Because the larvae of the clothes moth are so small, it is likely that you won’t notice their presence until it’s too late. Moth larvae are equal opportunity destroyers of clothing. As long as there is an item made from natural fibres, they don’t care if it is in a chest of drawers or a wardrobe.
Adult clothes moths are only 0.5-1cm in length and are often light brown in colour. You are quite likely to find them scuttling menacingly across the floor as they prefer walking to flying, despite having functional wings. To be fair, these are tactics straight out of ninja movies.
Similar to their clothing-dwelling brethren, the carpet moth larvae are incredibly small, so it is difficult to spot them before they have reduced sections of your carpet to bare threads. Carpet moth larvae don’t just eat carpets, though. They are quite partial to rugs, furniture, cushions, and basically any natural fibre they can reach.
The adults are a bit bigger than clothing moths and have a distinct wavy pattern on their wings. The patterns are usually dirt brown and creamy in colour, but sometimes their markings can be much darker.
The larvae of the food moth can be found kitchen cupboards and pantries. Their preferred hunting grounds are open packets of oats, muesli and flour. Although they are not toxic when eaten, the larvae can cause intestinal discomfort and the thought of eating moth maggots is gross.
The adults are again quite small at around 1cm in length. They look like adult clothing moths, except for the colour of their wings. The wings have a two-toned pattern, the top half is cream-coloured and the lower half is light or dark brown.
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What damage do moths cause on your clothes?
Moth larvae can do a substantial and expensive amount of damage to clothing. The most common types of damage are:
- Holes – this is the damage most people will find. It can be just one or two small holes but, normally, you will find several large holes. The damage can be so severe that the item cannot be repaired.
- Item destruction – in cases of large-scale infestations, or infested vintage clothing, the damage can be so drastic that the item is either destroyed or chewed beyond recognition.
- Finances – the largest amount of damage moths will do is not to your clothes, but to your finances. Repairing or replacing damaged clothing can be expensive, especially if you own vintage clothes.
What is the worst thing an adult moth can do to you?
- Fly repeatedly into your face. We’re not sure why but moths seem to have a vendetta against faces. They will disregard their own well-being just to fly into your face until they can no longer move. As if that wasn’t bad enough, while they are laying siege to your face, they will also cover you in their disgusting moth dust.
- Lay more eggs in your favourite clothes. If you spot a moth infestation early enough, you might escape with just one piece of clothing being ruined. But, if you are too late, be prepared to replace a large and expensive portion of your wardrobe.
- Try to get outside by headbutting a light bulb. When not attacking your face, moths will bombard light bulbs with their tiny bodies in a futile attempt at getting outside. They might not be doing anything to you but it’s still annoying.
- Annoy you by flying around the room loudly in the dark. How can something so small make so much noise? And why do they bump into so many things in the dark when they are nocturnal? These are not questions you want to be asking yourself when you are trying to fall asleep. We are convinced that this is a form of moth sleep deprivation torture. How can you dodge moths flying at your face if you haven’t slept for three days?
- Land on you in the dark when you least expect it. The worst thing about how loud moths are at night is when it suddenly gets quiet. That usually means the moth has landed on or near you. They will then wait until you feel safe and sleepy before crawling on you. Then, when you freak out about being touched by something weird they will fly into your face again.
If you find signs of a moth infestation, there are many methods of dealing with it. The most common thing people do is to buy an insecticide spray and flood their wardrobe with it. While this will kill any moths and larvae living there, commercial products can be highly toxic to children, as well as pets and prolonged exposure to these substances can sometimes lead to accidental poisoning.
So there we have it, a brief guide to the damage that moths can cause. This spawn of insect Satan isn’t just annoying, it will actively destroy the clothes and furniture that you worked hard for. And what do you get in return for inadvertently providing a moth breeding and feasting ground? A dusty moth slap to the face and a heavily perforated jumper.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any moth horror stories to share? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!
Image source: Alonso Aguilar/shutterstock.com
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