Moths are often considered pests because moth larvae destroy household items, especially those made of organic materials. Therefore, differentiating moths from butterflies is one of the most effective ways people get rid of moths before a heavy infestation occurs.
What Is the Difference Between a Moth and a Butterfly?
Wing coloration is one of the best ways to differentiate moths from butterflies. The majority of butterfly species are colorful. On the other hand, the wings of the moths typically have more muted hues and patterns.
A moth’s antennae look like they are made up of tiny feathers (so they sort of look fluffier), while the majority of butterflies’ antennae are thinner. As for the thorax, butterfly bodies are sleek and thin, whereas moth bodies are typically stockier and furrier.
Butterflies rest with their wings closed, while moths rest with their wings open. While butterflies are active during the day (diurnal), moths are active at night (nocturnal).
Finally, most adult moths do not feed because their fat stores are sufficient for the rest of their life cycle and they don’t have developed mouths. Butterflies eat in adult form, and you will often notice them around flowers in your garden.
How Do I Identify a Moth?
One of the most common methods is to check the overall appearance of the body parts and coloration. Moths have fluffy antennae and furry bodies, and butterflies are mostly smooth.
Then pay attention to the time when the insect is active. If you see adult insects during the daytime, they are likely butterflies.
Finally, if you think you have moths, look for caterpillars and see what they eat, as moth larvae do the most damage inside your home.
Find a Moth Identification Guide
The following websites serve as great guides to get you started on identifying some of the moth species you’re interested in:
Try Moth Identification by Color
Compared to butterflies, moths are dull and often lack complex wing patterns. On the other hand, brilliantly colored butterflies use their wings to notify predators that they are not appetizing. Still, you can use the wing color to determine which moth species is present in your home. If you notice any flying insect, compare its colors to online photographs.
Observe the Insect’s Behavior
Moths are usually attracted to light, so you may notice them flying into the lights at night. Additionally, adult moths don’t eat anything, so you won’t see adult moths landing on any flowers to feed.
Try to Find Its Eggs or Caterpillars
If you know the specific species of moth you’re looking for, look for their preferred host plants and materials. Start by looking around your home to see if there are any eggs.
Moths’ eggs are typically small, approximately the size of a pinhead. They are also oval or spherical. On the other hand, butterfly eggs are larger, cylindrical, and frequently found in clusters.
What Are Some Common Moth Types?
Many big and small moths live in North American locations. Here are some of the common moths of North America:
- Sphinx moth
- Indian meal moth
- Tiger moth
- Webbing clothes moth
- Io moth
- Hummingbird moth
- Silk moth
- Angle shades
Are Moths Considered Pests?
Moths are pests, as they destroy common household items. The moth caterpillar may feed on spices, clothes, carpets, and even furniture. Furthermore, moths can cause health hazards, which is they it is crucial to fight the infestation as soon as you notice it.
What Damage Can Moths Do?
Most moths, such as the Indian meal moth, the Clothes moth, and the Carpet moth, can male a lot of damage. They destroy clothes, tapestries, upholstery, and carpets. Some moths, like the Coyote moth, are known to be major agricultural pests, while others, such as the Hawk moth, are considered potential disease carriers.
What Attracts Moths to Your House?
Lots of these moths are drawn to lights. At night, they enjoy congregating and flying around light sources. An open window, an unlocked door, or even a small crack or hole may invite a moth into your home.
Aside from bright lights, moths may be drawn to your home because they deem it suitable for breeding, shelter, and food sources. Moths lay their eggs in isolated, dim, and humid environments to them from predators.
How to Fight Moth Infestation?
These insects can cause a lot of damage, but you can eliminate them by creating a homemade moth trap with flypaper and fish oil. Simply spread the fish oil on the surface of the paper. Use it the same way you would utilize the usual flypaper.
You may also use a water and vinegar mixture. Simply mix one part of water with one part of vinegar and use this to clean areas where the moths are staying.
Cedar oil can keep moths away from your closet as well. Deep cleaning your entire household, especially your closet and other dark spots, can also fight off moth infestation and kill the caterpillars left behind.
How to Prevent Moths From Coming Over?
You can prevent moths from coming over by storing off-season clothes in airtight plastic bags and vacuuming regularly. You should also avoid storing clothes in damp places, as this will attract them even more. If you think you already have a moth infestation, call a professional if the methods above don’t work.
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Joan is a nocturnal person who loves traveling and coffee. She’s also an animal lover (and rescuer) who makes it a point to befriend every animal she meets. Her passion for learning led her to writing about various topics. As someone who is a nature lover, she aims to continue learning about the wonderful creation—especially butterflies, and at the same time, share her knowledge here at Butterfly Hobbyist.