CAN THE PESKY MOTHS BE HELPFUL TO HUMANS TOO?
If moths have emotions, they are probably seething with jealousy over their much more appreciated cousins, the butterflies. Moths are very beautiful creatures and do not lack the aesthetics to match their cousins. However, they do not get as much love as butterflies. Moths are reputed to be pests, especially when they are able to infiltrate homes because they are known to damage properties. Butterflies, on the other hand. Are not known for this kind of destructive behavior.
Moths are generally peaceful creatures. They do not attack or try to hurt humans and they just keep to themselves. They do not bite or sting, unlike wasps, spiders, or ants. They do cause economic damages and are certainly a nuisance to have around the house.
Moths are nocturnal creatures. They, together with their cousins the butterfly, belong to the order of Lepidoptera. Most lepidopterans are moths, however, as there are around 160,000 species of moths. Their mouths are called proboscis. They also have wings and antenna. They use this to suck nectar. Moths are also known to be attracted to light, for still unknown reasons. Moth fossils that were found are said to have been 190 million years old.
Moths undergo several stages in their lifetime, which is called metamorphosis. First is the egg stage. Next is the larval stage or caterpillar stage. This is when they start to eat what is in their immediate surroundings. They are the ones that cause damage in the pantry with your stored foods, and in your cabinets with your clothes. Next stage is the pupa, and then the adult. These adult moths then re-starts the cycle all over.
Some moths do not have mouths. They live just a few days as adults. Their only reason for being is to mate. Afterward, they die. They live off the stored energy they got as caterpillars, so they really have no use for mouths because they do not eat. An example of this is the luna moth.
What is a world without moths?
In defense of moths, they have played a major part in our ecosystem. Moths are food for many types of wildlife. Animals that feed on them include frogs, spiders, toads, lizards, and birds. They are also food to other insects. Bats also benefit from moths that fly at night, feeding on them with gusto. Birds feed their young on the caterpillar.
Moths are also helpful in pollinating flowers while feeding on their nectar. Our food crops depend on moths and other insects for seed production as well. Moths are also good indicators of the health of the environment. We can tell if air pollution has worsened, or if pesticides are effective, and even the effectiveness of new farming techniques, by observing their numbers.
This is not to say that humans and other creatures would starve without moths. There are certainly other creatures that can take on the mantle from these moths. However, the world is in a much stable condition because these moths have enabled it to be so.
Moths are pests too, unfortunately
Moths, when left outdoors, are beneficial, but once they get near humans they become such a nuisance. There are moths that eat and destroy our clothes. There are also moths that attack our pantry, feeding on our dry foods. They can certainly cause considerable economic damage to homeowners throughout the United States.
It is not the adult moths that cause the damages though. The larvae cause damages. They are the ones that feed on clothing, carpets, and rugs, upholstered furniture, and other fabrics that contain wool. The same is true with pantry moths, the larvae damage dry stored foods and not the adult moths.
Types of moths
Meal moths – Meal moths are also known as pantry moths or Indian meal moths. They are known to be the most troublesome of all pantry pests. Their size ranges from 8 to 10 mm in length and a ⅝ inch wingspan. They are gray in color and the outer lining of their wing are highlighted by a reddish brown color. Meal moths are considered as nuisance pests because they can attack any kind of dry foodstuffs like sugar, rice, cereals, grains, nuts, flour, sugar, pasta, dog food, dried fruits, and nuts. They can chew their way inside plastic and cardboard containers. Once infested, these dry foods will have to be thrown away.
Meal moths are able to get into our homes through the food packages that we bought from the store. That is why before purchasing dry foods, it is advisable to check these for the presence of moths. The presence of webbings is a sure sign that there are meal moths inside the package. In case you already bought the food and noticed moths inside only after you get home, return the package to the store. Make sure it would then be properly disposed of and not be returned to the shelf.
If you find those in your shelves to be infested with moths, throw them away immediately. This will prevent the moths from spreading. It is advisable to store dry food in sealed metal containers because meal moths can chew their way into boxes and even plastic. Also, clean your cupboard every week. Remove everything on your cupboards and cabinets and wipe with a cloth. Use vacuum as much as possible to remove even the eggs.
Clothes moths – Clothes moths are different from pantry moths in that they have different food preferences Clothes moths are the types of moths that damage clothing and other furniture. They eat the proteins found in the clothes. They typically choose clothes that are dirty and a bit wet.
You would know you have been attacked by clothes moths if your clothes have little holes on it. Another sign is the presence of fecal matter from the clothes moths, which usually contain the dye of the fabric it fed on, so their feces would appear as having the same color as the fabric.
Clothes moths like dark and damp areas where they can be undisturbed. Remove your clothes from the cabinet every once in a while, then wipe the cabinet’s surfaces using a cloth that is soaked in detergent. This will kill the larvae. Wash or dry clean all your clothes every once in a while when it has been left unused for quite some time. Freezing your clothes can also help kill the larvae. Put your clothes in a plastic bag before freezing them. Also, use repellents and mothballs to repel moths.
You can also try pheromone-laced cardboard traps. These may be effective in controlling the moths. It will not totally solve the problem admittedly, so it is advisable to use this in combination with other methods.
Ermine moths – Ermine moths are small to medium-sized moths, about 8 to 31 mm in length. They have smooth scales on their heads. They are usually white in color, some are pale grey, and often with dark speckles. Ermine moths are more of a nuisance in the garden because they can defoliate garden shrubs. They eat leaves, are leaf webbers, and can be found in a variety of plants. They cause damage to crops and trees as well.
The browntail moth– They have hairy, white bodies with a wingspan of 36 to 42 mm. Their tails are covered with reddish brown hairs. They have antennae that they use to detect pheromones. The antennae of the males are larger, which they use to detect unmated females. Females have larger bodies though. Females then lay 200 to 400 eggs, usually under leaves. Their caterpillars and nests can cause problems, as the hairs of these caterpillars can cause severe skin irritation and rashes. The adult moths also spin nests of silk which contain hairs that cause irritation as well. Caterpillars and nests should be removed if found within your vicinity.
If you are having problems with moths that you find difficult to solve, do not worry. The best pest control management in North Carolina is just a call away.
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