House moths fall into two equally distressful categories: moths that infest foods and moths that infest fabrics – mainly woolens, synthetics containing wool, furs, and sometimes silks and other fabrics.
Pantry and Kitchen
The Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpunctella), alternatively spelled Indianmeal Moth, is a pyraloid moth of the family Pyralidae. Alternative common names are North American High-flyer, Weevil Moth and Pantry Moth; less specifically, it may be referred to as "flour moth" or "grain moth". The Almond Moth (Cadra cautella) is commonly confused with the Indianmeal Moth.
Its larvae (caterpillars) are commonly known as "waxworms" like those of its relatives, though they are not the particular waxworms often bred as animal food. They are a common grain-feeding pest found around the world, feeding on cereals and similar products.
Adults are 8–10 mm in length with 16–20 mm wingspans. The outer half of their forewings are bronze, copper, or dark gray in color, while the upper half are yellowish-gray, with a dark band at the intersection between the two. The moth larvae are off-white with brown heads. When these larvae mature, they are usually about 12 mm long.
The Angoumois Grain Moth (Sitotroga cerealella) is a species of gelechioid moth. It is the type species of its genus Sitotroga, placed in the subfamily Pexicopiinae of the twirler moth family (Gelechiidae). Formerly, it was included in the "Chelariinae", which more recent authors do not separate from the Pexicopiinae and usually even do not consider a distinct tribe ("Chelariini") within them.
The adults' wingspan is 13–20 mm. Its caterpillars feed on grains of Asian Rice (Oryza sativa), Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum), Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), wheats (Triticum) and Maize (Zea mays). They bore into the seeds of the host plant and feed inside the seed covering. Consequently, this moth is considered a pest of stored cereals. More unusually, the caterpillars have been recorded to eat other dry plant matter, such as plant specimens stored in herbaria.
It has a nearly global distribution today, including essentially all of Europe as well as such far-flung places as Australia, Benin, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Japan, Samoa and the United States. This is due to its synanthropic habits, which allow it to be easily transported in international grain shipments. Its common name refers to Angoumois, the pre-revolutionary province of France from which it was first scientifically described by G.-A. Olivier in 1789. The province was transformed into the present-day Charente département the following year, and as it has since turned out the species is not originally native to western France.
The Mediterranean Flour Moth, Indian Flour Moth or Mill Moth (Ephestia kuehniella) is a moth of the family Pyralidae. It is a common pest of dry plant produce – especially cereals – and found around the world.
The adult moth is pale gray and up to 12 mm long, with dark bands. The hindwings are grayish-white. The wingspan is between 16 mm and 20 mm. The larva (caterpillar) is off-white with a darker head and small black spots on its body. The larva emerge from tube-like structures about 40 days after they hatch. The larva is about 12 mm long when mature. The larva then find a place to spin a cocoon. When the larva spin cocoons, they turn to a reddish-brown color. It takes about 8–12 days for the larva to become a moth and it takes 5–7 weeks for the egg to become an adult. The female moth lays 120–680 small white eggs. These eggs commonly attach to food and they hatch within 3–8 days.
The caterpillars are often found feeding on flour, cereals, baked goods and other dry grain products in food storage areas. Less often, dried fruits or mushrooms and even peat or rotting wood may be eaten. The species may reach extreme population densities in suitable locations (such as gristmills) if left uncontrolled, and the silken webs produced by the caterpillars may even interfere with normal operations of machinery such as flour sieves. The adult moths do not feed.
Clothing and Linens
Tineola bisselliella, known as the common clothes moth, webbing clothes moth, or simply clothing moth, is a species of fungus moth (family Tineidae). Therein it belongs to the subfamily Tineinae. It is the type species of its genus Tineola. The specific name is commonly misspelled biselliella – for example by G. A. W. Herrich-Schäffer, when he established Tineola in 1853.
The caterpillars of this moth are considered a serious pest, as they can derive nourishment from clothing – in particular wool, but many other natural fibers – and also, like most related species, from stored produce.
Females lay eggs in clusters of between 30 and 200 which adhere to surfaces with a gelatin-like glue. These hatch between four and ten days later into near-microscopic white caterpillars which immediately begin to feed. They will also spin mats under which to feed without being readily noticed and from which they will partially emerge at night or under dark conditions to acquire food. Development to the next stage takes place through between five and 45 instars typically over the course of between one month and two years until the pupal stage is reached. At this point, the caterpillars spin cocoons and spend another approximately 10–50 days developing into adults.
Unlike the caterpillars, the adult moths do not feed: they acquire all of the nutrition and moisture they need while in the larval stage, and once they hatch from cocoons their only goal is to reproduce. They have only atrophied mouthparts and cannot feed on fabric or clothing. All feeding damage is done by the caterpillar (larval) form.