Moth butterflies include a wide range of beautiful creatures. Far from being universally acknowledged as pests, many kinds of moths are beneficial in the yard or garden. In the home, however, a moth butterfly can be annoying and destructive.
The miller moth is the adult stage of the army cutworm, a common garden pest. This moth butterfly is attracted to artificial light and often slips indoors accidentally, going unnoticed until it is seen flitting around light fixtures. The miller moth does not breed indoors and only lives a few days, so the presence of a miller moth indoors is not serious.
Indian Meal Moth
The Indian meal moth presents a bigger problem. Although the adult stage of this moth butterfly does not eat, the larvae feed on a wide range of cereals including flour, meal, birdseed, dry dog food, and even nuts and dried fruits. Most meal moths enter the home as eggs, hidden in cereal products. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the surrounding grains, pupate, and metamorphose into adult moths. The adults lay eggs in the available cereal products, and the cycle begins again.
Indian meal moths are found almost exclusively in and around food, so pesticides are generally not used to get rid of them. Instead, all food sources must be removed or made inaccessible. Some meal moths cast a kind of webbing as they transform from larva to pupa; the presence of this webbing definitely indicates infestation. Damaged packages or worm castings may also indicate the source of the problem. All infested material should be thrown away. If it is not obvious where the moth butterfly eggs are, it may be helpful to consult with a pest control professional.
Once all infested material is removed, the area should be thoroughly vacuumed, concentrating on dark cracks where a moth butterfly could hide. To protect against re-infestation, cereals and grain products should be removed from their original packaging and stored in well-sealed glass or heavy plastic, lidded containers.
Clothes moths are attracted to anything which contains keratin (hair, fur, wool, feathers) but for proper nutrition they also need stains like perspiration, food, or urine. This type of moth butterfly generally enters the home in infested material. To prevent infestation, dry clean susceptible articles before bringing them home, then keep them clean and store them in an airtight container with all joints sealed.
In the garden, a moth butterfly can provide a useful service. In the home, it is best to deal with an infestation as soon as possible to prevent damage to food and property. A pest control service should be able to provide many safe and effective options for getting rid of moths.