Mysterious Moths Explained: Are Moths Dangerous?

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Mar 06, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 14, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
A polyphemus moth is sitting on a decaying tree limb.

It is true that some moths are dangerous to humans, but they won't fight unless they are attacked.

The moths that are usually found in the garden or inside homes are field moths and are harmless creatures. However, there are some venomous moths found in the wild that squirt acid when faced with danger.

Apart from the fact that moths eject formic acid from the whips of their wings, they are unable to bite. This is because moths do not possess a proper mouth.

Moths are harmless and do not attack humans unless provoked. However, these tiny insects can contaminate food by defecating on it.

Their cocoons are also a source of contamination. Eating food contaminated by them can affect your health and cause various illnesses in humans and pets alike.

Again, you may experience allergic reactions if you come into contact with moth larvae, which can sting with their sharp spines. But for the majority, moths and their larvae are known as economic destroyers because they destroy clothes, furniture, fabrics, food, and other things.

It is evident that there are quite a number of reasons why moths are deemed dangerous. Hence, one must take appropriate measures to prevent moth infestation and limit this pest from feeding on your things.

Keep reading to discover various facts about the moths! You can also check out are millipedes dangerous and are ladybugs poisonous to discover interesting facts about them.

All About The Mysterious Moths

A moth, belonging to the Animalia kingdom of the family Saturniidae, class Insecta, and order Lepidoptera, is a type of flying insect. They are different from butterflies, and more than 160,000 species of moth are found worldwide.

The descriptions of several moths are yet to be recorded. Moths can be either nocturnal (active at night), crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn), or diurnal (active during the day) in nature and generally tend to fly towards, and around, bright lights.

Adult moths emerge from cocoons made by caterpillars, or moth larvae. Some caterpillars live in holes in the ground before developing into moths.

Moths usually live in quiet forests and pastures, preferably in a warm climate, and are found almost all over the world. Adult moths are herbivorous insects that mainly feed on nectar, fruits, and natural fabric, while caterpillars eat the leaves and fruits of plants.

Birds, bats, spiders, and lizards are some of the animals that predate on moths. Depending on the species, an adult female moth lays nearly 100-250 eggs at a time, and her life span is just 40-150 days.

The size and weight of the insects are also determined by their species.

The most striking feature of a moth is the fact that it is the only insect to have a body covered in scales. The scales make the body of a moth look hairy.

They carry two feathery antennae on their head along with a large and a small wing on either side of their body. The wings of a moth can have a mixture of different colors such as brown, yellow, black, red, orange, and white, depending upon the type of species with two round eyes and six legs.

The colorful wings aid the moths in hiding from their predators. Moths are very shy and prefer to live in solitude.

Not All Moths Are Dangerous

As already mentioned, nearly 160,000 different types of moth species are found across the globe. Most of the moths that one finds flying inside their house are field moths that are absolutely harmless.

However, there are some venomous larvae that can leave one with severe skin irritation called Lepidopterism, as well as rashes or blisters. This is possible because of the spines that they use to sting humans. Rest assured that they are unable to bite and do not harm you during your sleep either.

Lonomia, commonly called the silkworm moth, is deemed as the most venomous among the moths belonging to the family Saturniidae. The larvae form of this moth possesses a deadly venom that has been the cause of several human deaths.

Next, the southern flannel moth, commonly known as the puss caterpillar, is one of the most venomous larvae in the world, carrying venom in its spines.

The bristles on the body of a lo moth caterpillar induce extreme pain on being touched.

The stinging of a buck moth caterpillar can be extremely painful, causing severe itching, rashes, and blisters. Some of the moths that are not harmful to humans but cause agricultural and textile damages are the brown house moth, white-shouldered house moth, pantry moths, case-bearing clothes moth, common clothes moth, and so on.

Close-up image of Luna moth.

Moth Larvae; An Economic Destroyer

It is a common misconception that moths feed on clothes. In reality, female adults only reproduce in them. The eggs hatch within 10 days from which larvae or caterpillars emerge. The caterpillars are responsible for feeding on fabrics, clothes, carpets, clothing, wool, and several other textiles. They are also responsible for contaminating food.

There are some clothes moths as well that feed upon textiles. The larvae damage textiles by cutting holes in them.

Once they infest a particular area, it spreads like wildfire until a considerable amount of damage has been caused by these pests. After eating a sufficient amount of plant leaves and fabrics, caterpillars spin silk cocoons around themselves to live inside before growing into a moth.

These pests also contaminate food by defecating on it. The silk cocoons that they spin around themselves are also a source of food contamination.

Consuming contaminated food will affect your health showing symptoms such as allergic reactions on the skin, rashes, swelling, etc. A moth is commonly referred to as an economic destroyer for the reason that they destroy clothes as well as food.

Steps To Prevent Moth Infestation

The development of a moth infestation happens quickly and can spread across many adjacent areas. Moth infestations, if left unattended, can become a major cause of concern. Hence, treating them at an early stage is advised.

To control and prevent pest infestation, clothes made of natural fibers such as wool or fur must be brushed each time after wearing them. Eggs of the moths tend to stick to such textured surfaces, which must be brushed off to keep the larvae away.

Before storing carpets and other clothing inside cupboards for a long period of time, one must wash and air-dry them thoroughly. This will rinse any larvae that were previously stuck on them. Since moths prefer moist surroundings in which to reproduce, fabrics must be stored in a dry room.

Moths cannot bear the smell of cedar. So, you could place blocks of cedar in you cupboards to keep the clothes moths away.

DIY Tips to Get Rid Of Moths

If you find an eclipse of moths flying in your garden or inside your house, you can be certain that there has been a development of moth infestation. Moths can fly at a fairly fast pace and even scurry up the walls.

Hence, killing them might seem like a difficult task. Here are a few easy DIY tips to get rid of moths.

In order to control the spread of these pests and get rid of them, one must make use of cedar blocks, the smell of which is despised by this pest. Cedar scented sprays or cedar oil can also be used for this purpose.

Moths are repelled by the smell of several herbs such as lavender, cloves, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. One can hang a bag of crushed herbs where clothes or food are stored.

Moths are attracted to pheromones that they release. You can cover a sticky trap with it on which moths will get stuck.

Freezing clothes that are infested by moths is a good method of killing larvae. You can also use vinegar to wash fabrics that are infested by moths.

Lastly, you can always call the pest control service for advice or direct assistance.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are moths dangerous, then why not take a look at are earwigs harmful or magpie moth facts?

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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