Oh, man. Thinking back to growing up, I remember the countless times I would be getting ready to go to sleep and then all of a sudden, be trying to chase a moth out of my room before going to bed. When this happens, should you put the moth outside?
The choice is up to you. Some moths are a nuisance to the agriculture industry, such as the diamondback moth, and some risk infesting your home by eating your fabric and foodstuffs. Other moths are inadvertent pollinators of the environment and also play a crucial role in the diet of other animals, such as bats and birds.
Naturally, the choice is up to you to decide what to do with the moth. My goal below is to present you with a few overlying looks about the nuisance type of moths, so you can identify if these are what’s in your home. Let’s get to it!
What Type of Moth is In Your Home, and Should You Put It Outside?
Like countless species of insects and their subspecies, many play a different role in the environment depending on their type.
For instance, the larvae of the diamondback moth are one of the most troublesome pests to agricultural farmers in the United States and Canada and have been for years.
Without getting too deep into it, the diamondback moth’s larvae will begin eating its host plants moments after birth, causing quite the issue, especially when adult females can lay more than 150 eggs during their two-week life cycle.
Luckily for you, this is most likely not the type of moth in your home.
So, just what has flown its way into your house? Some of the most common types of moths that are considered pests and could be in your home are:
- Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella)
- White-Shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)
- Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpunctella)
- Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)
While there are others, these tend to be the ones you’ll more than likely find in your home.
PLEASE NOTE – we’re reviewing common moths that are a nuisance and have the potential to be. There are several other moths, like the endangered luna moth, that you should put outside, as they (along with other species of silk moths) don’t fit the mold of a typical pest.
Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella)
The common clothes moth typically likes to live indoors. Their length generally varies from 5-7mm and has a very pale, light brown, and almost golden appearance. According to Michigan State University Plant & Pest Diagnostics, common clothes moths can lay, on average, 40 to 50 eggs over a 2-3 week period.
As you probably guessed at this point, common clothes moths prefer to snack on your clothing and textiles. This moth’s larvae will feast on wool fabric, fur, leather, and other materials that make up everyday items like comforters, shirts, pants, jackets, and sweatshirts.
Of course, there are other types of fabrics this moth will eat, but regardless, you want to get them out of your home as quickly as possible in order to prevent them from laying eggs in and around your house.
So, should you put a common clothes moth outside? If you find one of these moths in your home, you absolutely should. These moths will feast on your fabric, such as wool, fur, and leather. If you don’t get rid of it, the common clothes moth can lay up to 50 eggs in a matter of weeks.
As is the common theme up until this point, if you’re able to get rid of the common clothes moth by putting it outside, you most definitely can. It might take a bit of maneuvering but if you’re able, try to! These moths aren’t an agricultural pest, and outside of eating your fabric, they provide a food source to other animals.
Don’t wait on moth eggs to hatch. Contact our nationwide network of pest control pros, and we’ll connect you to an exterminator in your area in seconds for free. Scheduling through our partner network helps support pestpointers.com.
White-Shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)
Found worldwide, the white-shouldered house moth can range from 8-12mm in length and has a very recognizable white or cream-colored head and upper shoulder area. This has lead to its name, the white-shouldered house moth.
While its head and shoulder are white in appearance, the rest of the insect’s body is light brown with black spots.
The white-shouldered house moth is a nuisance for the same reason as the brown house moth – their larvae feast on your dry food storage. The white-shouldered house moth larvae prefer your dry food storage more than fabrics, furniture, and clothing material, but that doesn’t mean it still won’t cause damage to these items.
Essentially, these house moths can all cause damage in the same way. The full-grown moth isn’t the actual live problem, as the larvae are the insects that cause the damage to your home.
However, just like the brown house moth, if the white-shouldered house moth is allowed to roam free in your home, its eggs can take over your home.
So, should you try to put a white-shouldered house moth outside? You most definitely should. The white-shouldered house moth can cause damage to your home by laying its eggs and hatching larvae, which will, in turn, feast on your dry food storage, fabric, and clothing material.
Again, these house moths do provide a food source for bats, birds, and other creatures. It’s up to you if you want to expend the energy to put them outside or not.
Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpunctella)
The Indian meal moth can easily be recognized by its pale white colored midsection, just between its shoulders and mid-torso, with the rest of its body being an amber color with black streaks.
According to the Connecticut State’s, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Indian meal moth can lay up to 400 eggs in a matter of 18 days.
If we’re basing moths based on their larvae’s preferred food source, then the Indian meal moth is the counterpart to the common clothes moth.
The larvae of this food-eating moth will heavily go after your dry food storage, such as Indian meal products (hence the name), cornmeal products, cereal, oatmeal, powdered foods, dry animal foods, and more.
So, should you put an Indian meal moth outside? If you find one of these moths in your home, yes, you absolutely should. The Indian meal moth can lay hundreds of eggs in a matter of weeks, while the larvae of this moth, once hatch, can ravage your food storage.
Whether or not you’d like to take the time to put the moth outside is up to you. Regardless, your best course of action is to remove the Indian meal moth (and any other moth on this list) from your home before an infestation happens.
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Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)
One of the most common pests in the United States, the larvae of the brown house moth, has a diet of various food and furniture items in your home.
The brown house moth can measure up to 14mm and has a primarily mid-dark brown body color with black spots on its wings. The brown house moth itself doesn’t cause damage to your home but rather its larvae.
The larvae of the brown house moth feed on natural material in your home, such as silk, wool, blankets, fabric carpets, shirts, sweatshirts, pants, and other clothing. Additionally, the brown house moth feeds on food material like starchy foods such as potatoes and other various dry storage foods.
It’s imperative to keep your food items covered in case brown house moths DO get into your home, by the way. If things are adequately covered, then the moths will have difficulty getting through whatever seal you placed on your food, and you should be good to go.
Regardless, the brown house moth can be considered a pest for this reason.
Should you try and put a brown house moth outside? Yes, you should. Brown house moths can cause damage to your fabric, furniture, and food storage. Regardless if you put the insect outside or not, you should most definitely get them out of your home one way or another.
The issue arises that if you let the brown house moth roam free in your home, then you’re inviting it to lay eggs. Brown house moths can live for up to a year, all while an adult female can lay 600 or more eggs. It’s your decision if you’d like to expend the energy to put a brown house moth outside.
If you allow a brown house moth to take shelter in your home, you could have a full blow infestation once the eggs hatch, so getting it out is important, neverless.
Putting Moths Outside, It’s Your Call!
Now that you have a clearer picture about what kind of moth is in your home and the damage that various types of them can cause, it’s up to you to decide what to do with them.
If you spot one of the types of moths listed above in your home, then it’s definitely in your best interest to get them removed from your home as efficiently as possible.
If you’ve spotted a moth, like the beautiful endangered luna moth, then do your best to put it outside. More than likely, you won’t see this moth as they only live for about a week (they don’t have mouths, so they can’t eat!)
As always, if you’re spotting the larvae of moths around your home, you should contact a pest control professional right away, as you could be in for a full-blown moth infestation.
Arbogast, R. T., Chauvin, G., Strong, R. G., & Byrd, R. V. (1983). The egg of Endrosis sarcitrella (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae): Fine structure of the chorion. Journal of stored Products Research, 19(2), 63-68.
Cox, P. D., & Pinniger, D. B. (2007). Biology, behaviour and environmentally sustainable control of Tineola bisselliella (Hummel)(Lepidoptera: Tineidae). Journal of Stored Products Research, 43(1), 2-32.
Lindroth, R. L. (1989). Chemical ecology of the luna moth. Journal of chemical ecology, 15(7), 2019-2029.
Silhacek, D. L., & Miller, G. L. (1972). Growth and development of the Indian meal moth, Plodia interpunctella (Lepidoptera: Phycitidae), under laboratory mass-rearing conditions. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 65(5), 1084-1087.
Woodroffe, G. E. (1951). A life-history study of the brown house moth, Hofmannophila pseudospretella (Staint.)(Lep., Oecophoridae). Bulletin of entomological research, 41(3), 529-553.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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