Home moths What Do Moths Eat? Why do they Feed on Clothes?

What Do Moths Eat? Why do they Feed on Clothes?

Moths are generally known to feed on nectar; however, their diet extends beyond that. They consume a variety of liquids to gain energy for use during reproduction. They consume decomposed fruits, tree sap, rotten animal remains, and feces among other items.

Since they seek food at night, Moths never consider food color but instead, they use their sharp smell to enable them to locate food. Moths have large antennas that helps them to pick up food scents. They often pick up scents of flowers that bloom in the night and have an intense aroma.

What do Moths Eat (Larvae, Caterpillar &Adults)

What Larvae feeds on

Soon after a larva comes to existence, it aims to gain weight to enable it to proceed to the pupa stage of its life cycle and avoid being consumed by predators.

To gain weight, adult moths ensure their eggs are laid on nutritious plants. Cherry dagger Moths consume cherry trees, hence the adult moth would lay her eggs on cherry trees.

Oak moths feed on oak trees; hence, the mother moth would only lay her eggs on oak trees to provide food for larvae once they hatch.

Larvae moths are voracious feeders, meaning that their diet is never restricted to plants and nectar. During their primal phase, they have chewing organs, which they use to consume almost everything they see. Other items they consume include furniture, hair, fur, materials they locate near wool and oil and paper dust.

Caterpillar Diet

A Caterpillar moth meal differs from that of the adult moth. The caterpillar only consumes solid food; however, different moth species have different food preferences.

Most caterpillars consume plant leaves; however, some species consume animal products such as feces, wool, and decomposed meat.

The caterpillars that prefer leaves often prefer different plant species while those that prefer animal products, often avoid consuming the adult moths preferred flower.

Clothing moths, at the caterpillar stage, consume wool and leather. The Tobacco horn moths, at the caterpillar phase, consume leaves of plants belonging to the nightshade species such as tobacco and tomato leaves.

Further Reading: Are Moths Dangerous to Humans & Pets

Adult Moths Food

There are over 140,000-moth species globally. Adult moths only consume liquids. Sample species include Sphinx Moth, Owlet Moth, and the Giant Moth. An adult Moths aim to procreate thus facilitate the development of its species. Adult moths require less nourishment as compared to the larva moth.

Their chewing organs transform into a tube-like structure known as a proboscis. The proboscis offers the moth a fluid pumping technique they use for sucking flower nectar. They also feed on juice from decayed fruits, manure liquids, honeydew, and tree sap.

Adult Moths have a craving for meals that are rich in minerals that promote virility and sodium-based products. The energy they gain is mainly used for reproductive purposes.

It is also very important to note that some moth species such as the green Luna moth never eat at all. These moth species utilize the energy they stored while they were younger. The energy which was obtained through foraging vegetation is used for reproduction and flying purposes.

Why do Moths Eat Clothes?

Some moths do feed on clothes. The two known fabric-eating moth species belonging to the family Tineidae bisselliella. The casemaking clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth feed on animal fiber. They particularly consume fur, leather, silk, and feathers.

Pictures of What Clothe Moths look like

Here are images of the two species of moths that chew clothes look like

Webbing Clothe moth photo
webbing clothe moth
Flying Adult clothe moth
flying webbing moth
How casemaking clothes moth looks like
casemaking clothe moth

Why on feed on Fabric?

The matter they feed on contains keratin, which is protein, which the larvae stage of the moth consumes.

The clothe moth rarely consumes synthetic and cotton fabrics unless the fabrics are either blended with food stains, wool or body oils.

The development phase of clothing caterpillars varies depending on food availability among other factors. The clothe moth caterpillar appears creamy-white and they spin silk patches or tubes as they consume fabric. The two moth species often feed in concealed areas and leave behind threadbare spots.

Adult moths reproduce by laying eggs that are rich in keratin, therefore, the larvae have to acquire enough nourishment as it develops.

Frequently infested materials include coats, rugs, pillows, upholstery, decorative items, and toys. The caterpillar often feeds in dark spots such as boxes and closets where wool and fur materials are concealed for long durations.

picture of fabric eaten by moth
Rug eaten by moth

Frequently Asked Questions

Do moths eat mosquitoes?

Moths never feed on mosquitoes. There is a variety of moth species globally. They feed on meals ranging from solid matter to plant fluids.

Do moths eat silk?

Adult moths never eat silk. There exist two moth species that consume silk while at the larval stage. The webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth feed on silk among other natural fibers they find.

What do moths eat in house?

Clothes moths dwell in houses and their larvae feed on clothes. They frequently devour wool jackets, fur, and sweaters. The matter they feed on contains keratin, which is protein.

The clothe moth rarely consumes synthetic and cotton fabrics unless the fabrics are either blended with food stains, wool or body oils.

Pantry moths also infest houses and are mail found in the kitchen, drawers, cabinets, and pantry.

The Indian meal moths and Mediterranean flour moths are frequent species in households. They feed on flour, dried fruits, pet food, bird seeds, and cereal. They also lay eggs at their feeding spots.                                                  

Do moths eat spiders?

No, moths never eat spiders. Some spider species consume moths. Moths have specific meals that they feed on and rarely devour other insects.

Do moths eat paper?

Yes, some species of moths consume books at the larval stage. They often chew books while searching for food. They bore and chew books and mainly infest bookshelves. The moth larva is attracted to wood pulp paper that is used in book production.

Do moths eat bugs?

No, moths are mainly vegetarian are rarely consume insects. In some cases, bugs reportedly eat moths.

Do moths eat rayon?

Yes, clothing moths feed on rayon and fabric. Rayon contains keratin, which is a protein. The protein is a major constituent of the eggs the adult moth lays; hence, they require lots of the nutrient.

Do moths eat leaves?

Mature moths consume little food and mainly rely on plant nectar. During the larvae stage, most moths consume leaves that enable them to grow to adult moths.


Further Reading


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here