What Brings on Moths?

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Lepidoptera--meaning "scaly-winged"--is the animal order that consists of butterflies and moths. There are thousands of species of moths, split into two groups: macro-moths and micro-moths. Moths live in varying habitats, including mountains, gardens, woodlands, marshes and sand dunes. Three species of moths that damage most homes are the clothes moths, the brown house moths and the white shouldered house moth. These moths are commonly attracted to objects in or near homes.


Many moths, like the white shouldered house moth, are attracted to dust and other dust like particles. Often these particles collect in or beneath carpets, causing the moth larvae to eat through the carpet to get to the food source. Some moths are also attracted to food and urine residue on carpets, and if materials are not cleaned thoroughly, the moths may destroy carpets to get to the source of food.


Moths tend to chew through clothing for the same reasons that they chew through carpet. Woollen material especially attracts moth, and if the material is stained with food, urine or perspiration, the moths are attracted even more. Moth larvae, not adult moths, are generally responsible for eating through fabric. Female moths lay their eggs in the fabrics that she knows will provide food for the larvae.

Storage Spaces

Storage spaces attract other moths, like the brown house moth. These spaces are dark, allowing moth larvae to grow more rapidly. Larvae are susceptible to large amounts of light and storage spaces, especially food store and pantries, as they offer both darkness and food sources for the newborn moths.


Moths use the moon as a sort of global positioning system. When they fly, the moon helps them to find direction. Because the lunar light is an optical infinity, meaning that the moon is far off enough that its rays of light are all parallel at eye level, the moths find direction using its constancy. However, with the invention of artificial light, many moths are attracted to the increase in brightness. They use the manmade lights to direct themselves and since they are much closer to the moths than the moon, the moths often fly directly to the light sources.

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