Most moths are harmless, and will only flutter by your porch light at night. But there are some types of moths in Houston that can cause real damage to your property. There are two types of pest moths in Houston. One type will nest in your closets and eat your clothes. The other will come int your home in search of food, and often lay their eggs in packaged food. Here you'll find information on some of the problem moths in Houston, ways to tell if you have a moth problem, and some tips on getting rid of them.
The Indian meal moth is probably the most common food-infesting pest in Houston. While their official name is Indian Meal Moth, they are known by a number of other common names including pantry moth, North American high-flyer, weevil moth, flour moth, and grain moth. These are smallish, grayish brown moths with striped bands at the tips of their wings that are commonly found infesting cupboards, pantries, or anywhere else food is stored.
Almost as commonly seen as the moths themselves are there larvae, yellow-white grubs about 1/4 of an inch long with a distinctive dark brown head and mouth parts. These larvae are the life stage of the moth that actively feeds on grains, and because they will dig deep into the food they are often only discovered when the food is taken from the packaging. Unfortunately, this can mean discovering you have indian meal moths by discovering the larvae floating in your bowl of cereal, something which is generally considered a pretty lousy way to start the morning.
Going through and removing any infested food product is essential to eliminating these moths from your home. Thoroughly clean any infected cabinets to remove cocoons or eggs, and look for the presence of cocoons throughout your house.
One of the biggest problem with these pests is that what may seem like an infestation in a cupboard is actually an infestation in an entire house. Like any other moth, Indian meal moths have a multi-stage lifecycle. They hatch from eggs into larvae, spin cocoons, and then emerge as winged, adult moths. Indian meal moths do not necessarily spin their cocoons near the food source, and larvae can travel a substantial distance to reach their food. Eggs and cocoons could be in an entirely different room, and are often placed in extremely tight cracks and crevices.
Clothes-eating moths are a problematic pest in Houston. The larvae of these moths will eat natural fabrics such as wool and cotton, and can destroy clothing by chewing small holes throughout the garment. Webbing clothes moths and case making clothes moths are the most commonly found species of clothes-eating moths in Houston. Both are small and yellow-white in color, with the case making clothes moth being distinguished by dark spots on its wings. Both species have similar habits and do similar damage.
Houston's long summers are a boon to these moths, because here our winter woolens lay undisturbed in closets for long periods of time. This gives the moths more time to infest and to feast, and a greater chance of being unnoticed.
Preventing clothes moths from having access to stored clothes is one of the most effective ways to prevent these moths from entering your home. Dry-clean or wash winter clothes before storing them. Make sure clothes that are made of natural fabrics are in sealed plastic bags when stored. Thoroughly clean closets where clothes are stored before placing items there for long periods. Mothballs have been a traditional deterrent for clothes-eating moths, but many of these products contain substances that are highly carcinogenic.
Sometimes prevention fails an moths will still infest your clothes. In this case, calling professional pest control is generally recommended. An infestation can usually be treated successfully by a professional, so that combined with adequate prevention the problem can be eliminate permanently.