What Do Moths Eat?

What Do Moths Eat

Moths, one of the few creatures other than your dog that people told you is going to eat your clothes if you don’t watch out. Whenever this comes up, you first have to establish what type of moth you are dealing with. You see, there is a myth going around that moths eat clothes, but which ones? We say this because there are more than 11,000 species of moths in the U.S. alone and if the myth is true, than you should know what type of moth to be weary of.

We would do well to first dwell into the very nature of moths, to better understand what these creatures are all about and whether not they do indeed eat clothes. There are more than 150,000 known species of moths out there, divided into different families. It has to be said that each of these families are known to eat different things. For instance, most moths are plant pests, meaning that they mostly eat nectar.

There are moths who do indeed eat woolen and silken cloths, yet most adult moths don’t eat anything at all. This is because most adult moths have no mouths, drawing nourishment through a long narrow tube in their mouth known as a proboscis. They use this proboscis when sitting on top of a flower to ‘drink’ nectar through it, ergo there isn’t much eating going around. This being said, it would be safe to assume that moths don’t really ‘eat’ anything, even though they will drink pretty much anything that dissolves in water.

The reason why moths are associated with eating clothes is because of their offspring. You see, moth larvae have a tremendous appetite and will eat their way through a variety of materials to satisfy their insatiable hunger. In order to get their much needed protein, moth babies will need to consume an awful lot of keratin, a substance that can be found in any organic fibre derived from an animal.

The list of organic fibers containing keratin involves wool, silk, cotton, cashmere, feathers, fur, lint, hair, carpets, and even dust if food sources are scarce. Furthermore, moth larvae has been known to pierce wholes into a variety of other materials to make their way to any of the fibers we talked about. After they’re done eating, moth larvae will use these fibers to form a cocoon around themselves to grow into.

As adults, moths eat many things, just as long as they can dissolve in water. They aren’t picky eaters by any means, eating tree sap, pollen, rotting fruit, bird droppings, and even animal dung. They are also attracted to sodium due to it being vital for their reproduction. It is because they are attracted to sodium that they will sometimes give the impression of flying straight towards people, as human sweat contains quite a bit of sodium.

Moths prefer dark spaces like basements, closets, attics, or crawl spaces, and although we already established that they don’t pose any real danger to your clothes as adults, you should probably keep them away from your clothes on the off chance that they’ll reproduce. Just to be safe, brush or vacuum your clothes before putting them away during the warm seasons, as moths or moth eggs can cause quite a bit of damage if not taken care of. You could also wrap them in paper, because as we already said, moth larvae can chew through many materials, except paper for some reason.

Furthermore, moths are extremely difficult to exterminate, due to them being quite resistant. For instance, moth larvae and eggs can survive temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius and as low as -8 degrees. Also, moths are primarily drawn to moisture and dark spaces, which is why they sometimes make their way into your closet. With this in mind, make sure your clothes are dry before putting them inside the closet to deter any moths from laying eggs on them.

Interesting facts about moths:

  • Moths are very good pollinators – Although most moths are considered pests, some are great pollinators due to their hairy bodies that pick up pollen from the flowers they land on.moths .
  • They are great mimics – Moths can impersonate other animals by looking like less palatable insects such as wasps or tarantulas.
  • Adult moths don’t eat – Like we said, adult moths have literally no mouth, thus being unable to eat anything that isn’t dissolved into water.
  • Male moths can smell females from 7 miles away – Not only do moths lack a mouth, but also a nose. Thanks to their complex antennae with hairlike scent receptors, male moths can detect odor molecules from 7 miles away.