Like most insects, moths can’t naturally survive freezing temperatures. When it starts to get cold in winter, moths have to seek shelter they’ll die out. Obviously, you won’t see moths flying around when it’s snowing outside–well, not for long at least! You probably knew all this already. Then you noticed the moths in your home this winter. Wait a minute.
Yes, even though moths can’t survive winter, they may somehow still find ways to infest your home. It’s about as confusing as it is unfair. Mostly, it’s annoying. Now you’re cooped up to stay out of the cold and you have to deal with moths? Well, not with our help you won’t. Here’s how moths might sneak into your winter refugee, and how you can keep them out.
This is the most common way pantry moths enter your home all year, not just in winter. Pantry moths like the Indian meal moth actually spend almost their entire lives as larvae. These larvae are very small and pale white or yellow. Larvae exist only to eat and grow until they can pupate into adults. They never. stop. eating. That means they live on their food sources, which are dried foods like cereal, pasta, and flour.
Larvae can eat their way through paper and soft plastic to get at dried food inside containers. Once inside, they burrow their way deep into the food. Check any bags or packages you buy for signs of damage before you bring them inside. If you find damage, don’t risk an infestation by bringing it in anyway. Meal moths lay eggs in food, too, so one infested food item could lead to a long-term problem.
If you’re like most Americans, your garage tends to be filled with a lot of… stuff. You have piles of firewood, bins full of equipment like shovels, rakes, and brooms, lawnmowers, bikes, and more. Your garage probably tends to get especially packed in winter, when you bring in everything you’d been keeping outside. From lawn and deck chairs to firepits, to birdseed, it all ends up in your garage. Unfortunately, however, you might be bringing in some unwelcome visitors with it!
Moths and moth larvae are small and easy to miss, especially when they blend in with their surroundings. They also tend to remain motionless for extended periods of time, especially when they’re cold. Often, homeowners will inadvertently transport moths into their garages or even their homes while moving something inside. Keep an eye on birdseed and firewood in particular–they tend to be havens for all kinds of pests. Remember to keep your garage door closed when you’re not using it, too.
Many moths–including the most common pantry and clothes-eating moths–strategically lay eggs in late fall. These eggs remain unhatched and incubating during the coldest portion of winter, preserving the developing larvae inside. Then, when temperatures begin rising again in spring, the larvae hatch and begin growing. Of course, the egg only responds to the temperature of the environment around it. If the egg ends up in an artificially warm environment (like your home!), the larvae will begin hatching early.
Moths lay eggs on food sources so their offspring can begin developing as soon as they hatch. For pantry moths, food is any dry, starchy or sugary food item. They’ll lay eggs in flour, grain, pasta, bread, cereal, candies, sugar, and more. Clothes-eating moths lay eggs on linens, fabrics, bed sheets, and (of course) clothing. These eggs can be very hard to see and very easy to bring into your home. Make sure all the food you bring inside is properly sealed in containers. Wash fabrics thoroughly before you use them.
People tend to travel a lot during winter–and who could blame them? Unfortunately, however, traveling is a surprisingly common way to end up with pest infestations in your home. You pick up pests when you’re out and about, then they come home with you. Bed bugs and moths are particularly common traveling pests. Usually, they sneak their way into your luggage while you’re away from it. You’ll probably never see them in your bag, but you may find them in your home later!
Pests like moths typically sneak into luggage because they’re warm, dark, quiet, and provide shelter. Moths may also lay eggs in or around the clothes or snacks you packed away. Generally, this happens at night, when you leave a bag open and on the ground. To avoid traveling pests, always keep your luggage tightly sealed and elevated when you’re not using it. Carefully check your bag and wash your clothes when you get back home.
Finding moths in your home will definitely seem weird, but it’s not terribly unusual. More importantly, it doesn’t mean anything is necessarily terribly wrong. Moths happen, even in winter.
No matter when you get moths, you don’t want them to stick around. If you need help wiping out a moth infestation, give Plunkett’s a call any time–even this winter. We’ll get rid of adults, larvae, and even the eggs, all before they hatch in spring.BACK TO BLOG