Skip to Content

House Moths

House Moths

All about House Moths

Nobody likes to see house moths, but the good news is that you can get rid of them and you can prevent them from coming back. All house moths are usually one of two types Indianmeal moths or clothes moths. The first kind is associated with food and the second, with any kind of clothing, especially stored clothing.

House moths are much different than a summer moth who just happens to be attracted to a light and comes in through a hole in a screen or an open door. The arrival of house moths is an infestation. Indianmeal moths are usually brought home in food, especially cereals and grain products.

Closeup of Moth on a sweater

They can be present in food items, such as cornmeal, flour, granola, pasta, cake or cookie mixes or oatmeal. They also can be found in foods like dates, and some nuts, such as pecans and walnuts.

Indianmeal moths can also be found in dry dog food and birdseed. They are able to contaminate these types of food products because they are usually sold in cardboard boxes or paper bags, which are easy to penetrate.

The adult moths are a brownish-gray color and are under a half inch long. They have a wingspan of a half-inch. The adult Indianmeal moths will fly around your house but it is not the adults who eat the food.

It is the larva of the Indianmeal moth which feeds on food products. These look like tiny white worms, although they are actually caterpillars. If you have an infestation, you might see these little guys crawling across a cupboard, a floor, or even across a wall or ceiling. Also look for webs in the boxes and bags as they will spin webs across their food.

Once the larva is full-size, they crawl out looking for cracks in wood or other similar spots in which to make a cocoon. In a couple months, the moth will pop out of the cocoon and start flying around the house.

The best way to get rid of Indianmeal moths is to look in all packages of dried foods and grains for these little white worms. Discard any infested packages into plastic garbage bags and remove them from the house.

White moth on a white home siding

The way to prevent these insects from spreading is to keep your cupboards clean and change your food storage methods. Take all of the food out of your cupboards and clean and disinfect. Look through all open and new food boxes for the larvae.

From here on, you will need to keep all dried foods and grains in insect-proof storage containers. These can be glass or plastic as long as they allow for an airtight seal. If the moths cannot get into the food, they cannot lay eggs in it.

House moths also include clothes moths. These can be seen in closets and clothes drawers as half-inch moths or as small white worms as well. These moths are uninterested in food boxes but thrive in-between clothing, especially wool clothing. They especially like wool, fur, leather and down products. This includes bedding and blankets. They live on lint and hair.

Clothes moths usually arrive on used clothing or imported clothing or rugs. Make sure to immediately dry clean such items to foil the attempts of this moth to live in your drawers and closets. People once used mothballs to keep away these moths, but mothballs were found to have carcinogens so now naphthalene flakes or paradichlorobenzene crystals are used instead.

Place these in drawers and closets, between items that sit on top of one another. To get rid of moths, have items washed or dry cleaned. Go through all your clothing shaking out each item, and vacuuming the floors. Also be sure to vacuum up all lint, dust and pet hair as these can be breeding grounds.

You may need to steam clean carpets if these are infested. You can also buy a spray to treat cracks and crevices in wood.

Related Resources: