Do you understand the distinction between pantry moths and clothing moths? Moths have been spotted flying around in your pantry and kitchen. What about the moths that congregate close to your home’s exterior lighting? Are all of these moths of the same species?
When choosing which goods or services can help you get rid of the pests in the future, knowing the differences between clothes moths and pantry moths—two moth types that do a lot of damage—will help you a lot.
In this article, we will discuss the differences between pantry moths vs clothes moths, so that you know which one you are dealing with.
What Do Pantry Moths Look Like?
Fully-grown pantry moths (Plodia interpunctella), also referred to as Indian meal moths, are around 1/2″ long in length, with wings that are roughly two-thirds reddish-brown in hue and have black striping. The first sign that you might have an Indian meal moth infestation is if you see them flying around your kitchen or pantry.
Larvae of pantry moths are also around 1/2 inch long in length and an off-white color, and while tunneling within dry food containers, they will spin silky webs.
What Do Pantry Moths Eat?
Pantry moths will eat and infest any stored food items you may have, including nuts, oats, cereal, wheat, grain, and cornmeal. They will also get into pet food, birdseed, dry pasta, and dried fruits.
Pantry Moth Life Cycle
Pantry moths undergo a complete metamorphosis as well, but they produce much more abundantly. Depending on how warm their surroundings are, female pantry moths can lay up to 400 eggs at once (directly on or close to food sources), which the pantry moth larvae hatch within a week or so (warmer temps mean faster hatching and development).
They can start chewing and causing some damage to your stored food items when they are still in the larval stage of the pantry moth. This could continue for two to three months before they spin themselves into pupal cocoons.
Occasionally, these Pantry Moth cocoons can be found in cracks and crevices and even buried inside the food that has been stored (Does anyone see any oatmeal with webbing?)
The cycle restarts when the pupa emerges as flying adult Pantry moths after another two to three weeks. At this rate, a little infestation of moths might quickly turn into a major problem.
What Do Clothes Moths Look Like?
Tineola bisselliella and the less frequent Tinea pellionella, often known as Casemaking moths, are adult clothes moths that are little (about half an inch long), beige to grey in color, and have slender, hairy wings.
Because they actively shun the light, these moths are rarely observed. They are occasionally confused with their slightly darker cousins, the Pantry Moths.
What Do Clothes Moths Eat?
The natural fibers of clothing (such as silk, cotton, and wool), draperies and curtains, furniture, carpet, and bedding are all highly sought-after by clothes moths. Not even polyester is safe from them because they will munch through synthetic materials in search of any concealed natural fibers.
Clothes Moth Life Cycle
Like many insects, clothes moths undergo a complete metamorphosis from egg to larva to pupa (cocoon) to adult flying stage. A female clothes moth can deposit about 50 eggs during her lifetime, which typically lasts between 60 and 90 days.
The casemaking moth cocoons are more like hard shells, whereas the small, white baby Clothes moths live in silky cylindrical cocoons and leave behind trails that resemble cobwebs. When you first notice adult Clothes moths fluttering around, you can already be dealing with a clothes moth infestation.
For more information on the various types of moths, visit our House Moth Identification article!
Pantry Moths vs Clothes Moths
|Pantry Moths||Clothes Moths|
|Appearance||1/2″ in length, with wings that are roughly two-thirds reddish-brown in color and have black striping||1/2″ in length, beige to grey in color, and have slender, hairy wings|
|What They Eat||Pantry moths eat stored food items including nuts, oats, cereal, wheat, grain, and cornmeal||Clothes moths eat natural fibers of clothing (such as silk, cotton, and wool), draperies and curtains, furniture, carpet, and bedding|
|Life Cycle||Two to three months||Two to three months|
|Eggs Laid||400 eggs at once||50 eggs during a lifetime|
As you have now learned, both pantry moths and clothes moths are similar in that they both reach around 1/2″ in length when they become adult moths.
Their life cycle is nearly the same at somewhere between 60 and 90 days, however, the key difference is the number of eggs the female is able to lay. Therefore, a pantry moth infestation can occur significantly quicker.
If you’re able to catch a glance at the moth, you may be able to distinguish which moth it is from its appearance. Pantry moths are roughly two-thirds reddish-brown in color and have black striping, while clothes moths are more beige to grey in color.
Do You Have Clothes Moths or Pantry Moths?
You probably won’t detect a clothes moth infestation until your garments start to suffer damage (usually collars, cuffs, and inside seams). Although adult Clothes moths are harder to notice than Pantry moths (and much harder to spot are eggs and larvae), they normally don’t stray far from their food sources.
If they are unable to find food in visible places, pantry moths have been known to fly around your house looking for it.
Infestations with pantry moths are much more obvious. You will see webbing and “caterpillars” in the food as pantry moth larvae build webs around themselves and munch through your food goods. The adult Pantry moths are plainly observable flying after the larvae pupate.
Once they invade your home, moths can be challenging to get rid of. Be watchful so you can identify any issues promptly and take action to stop them from getting worse. If you chance to have found an infestation, don’t panic. You have a lot of options for eliminating these moths.
How to Kill Clothes Moths and Pantry Moths
Pheromone traps can be added if you have clothes moths, but keep in mind that pantry moths won’t be attracted by them. A distinct kind of pheromone is used in pantry moth traps to draw them in.
In order to stop mature male moths from mating and procreating, clothing moth traps can kill them. Casemaking moths cannot be caught in some traps since they are made specifically for webbing clothes moths.
In order to assist you to get rid of these moths, mothballs include a substance called 1,4-dichlorobenzene (paradichlorobenzene), which suffocates moths and their larvae. Handle with caution as this substance is harmful to both humans and animals. Visit our guide on Using Moth Foggers to learn more!
Making your home as uninviting as possible for moths and other pests is the best defense you can construct against pantry moths (or any other moth or bug). Although cleanliness alone cannot guarantee you won’t have moths or other indoor bugs, it does matter.
To help control moths and other pests, be vigilant and as preventive as you can. A decent home bug spray or flying insect killer can also be used as a spot treatment for pantry moths, clothes moths (if you can see them), and other flying insects.
Never apply pesticide sprays in your pantry or cabinets where food is kept. Instead, utilize non-toxic pantry moth traps, which can be placed next to food that has been stored. They can continue to work for weeks and will capture pantry moths you may have missed.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I know if I have pantry moths or clothes moths?
Clothes moths don’t travel around the house, so you’re not likely to see them flying around your home. Pantry moths usually live in containers or bags of food that are in your pantry. You may also see them flying around in your kitchen. You may also find them behind the fridge and on the top of your cabinets
Do pantry moth traps work for clothes moths?
Pheromone traps can be added if you have clothes moths, but keep in mind that pantry moths won’t be attracted by them. A distinct kind of pheromone is used in pantry moth traps to draw them in. In order to stop mature male moths from mating and procreating, clothing moth traps can kill them.
How do I know if I have pantry moth?
Webbing around the edges of packages or on the goods inside, products made of flour or cereal that smell bad, or sticky secretions that cause grains to clump together are all indications of pantry moth infestations.