Facts about moth species
It is estimated that there are around 160,000 moth species in the world. In Denmark, the number is around 900if you exclude certain species of small butterflies.
However, out of these species, only about 15 species are considered true pests and only 4 of these species are common.
In this article, you can read about most of the moth species that are considered pests in Denmark. In some places, there are links to more in-depth articles about the individual moth species.
Common moth species
Of the moth species that are considered pests, the species below are the most common in Danish households.
The clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) is very similar to the fur moth. The most notable difference is that fur moths have 3 black spots on each wing, which the clothes moths do not have. However, the spots can be worn off.
The larvae of the clothes moth feed on organic materials such as wool, fur, silk, feathers, hair, etc. They are therefore often found in textiles such as faded clothing, carpets, upholstery, etc.
Fur moth (Tinea pellionella) are - as mentioned above - similar to clothes moths, with the most noticeable difference being the 3 black spots on each wing. However, fur moths can also be confused with seed moths, which also have black spots on their wings.
Fur moth larvae feed primarily on fur, hair, feathers and textiles, but can also feed on a few other materials such as certain dry foods.
Two-colored seed moth
Two-colored seed moth (Plodia interpunctella) are easily distinguished from other moths because the upper third of their wings are light gray, while the remaining part is coppery red. However, they can be confused with flour moths because the two species live in the same places and cause the same damage.
The two-colored seed moth larvae can feed on a wide range of plant materials, but in homes and businesses they mainly attack dry foods such as raisins, flour, spices, nuts, bread, cereals, pasta, rice, dried fruits, breakfast cereals, etc. They are also occasionally found in other foods such as chocolate, cocoa, instant coffee, etc.
Seed moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) has several black spots on its wings and can therefore be confused with the fur moth, which only has 3 spots on each wing.
Seed moth larvae are almost omnivorous and can survive on almost all plant materials as well as a range of animal materials. They can also infest textiles, but in practice it is more often clothing moths and fur moths that do this.
Less common moth species
Below are 6 of the less common moth species that are also considered pests. Note that all of the species below are mostly found in food businesses and only rarely in private households.
Sticky moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) can be easily distinguished from other moth species by their characteristic white "shoulders" - the upper part of their wings.
Sticky moth larvae are almost omnivorous, but they are no longer a widespread problem in Danish households. This is because they only reproduce in very humid environments and most modern homes are far too dry for them to thrive.
Meal moth (Ephestia kuehniella) are very similar to the two-colored moths because they develop similarly, live in the same places and attack many of the same foods. However, flour moths are much rarer in households than the two-colored seed moths.
The larvae of the flour moth feed mainly on flour because the female moths prefer to lay their eggs in it. However, the larvae can also feed on a number of other dry foods such as cereals, breakfast cereals, grains, etc.
Cocoa moth (Ephestia elutellea) is also called tobacco moth and is very similar to the flour moth and date moth.
Cocoa moth larvae feed mainly on dry plant products such as cocoa beans, nuts, dried fruit and tobacco. It can also attack breakfast cereals, dried-out meat, animal droppings, dry wood and dead insects in, for example, insect collections.
Date moth (Cadra cautella) is also called fig moth, almond moth and chocolate moth and is often confused with cocoa moth and raisin moth.
The date moth's many nicknames illustrate the wide range of foods it attacks. These are mainly dried fruits such as dates, figs, raisins, prunes, etc. but also cereals and cereal products, beans, grains, corn, rice, nuts, chocolate, etc. The larvae can also be cannibalistic and eat their siblings.
Wallpaper moth (Trichophaga tapetiella) is very different from the other pest moths due to its appearance; its head and the lower half of its wings are white, while the upper half of the wings are dark.
The carpet moth feeds mainly on animal materials such as feathers, fur, skins, leather and the like. Carpet moths only thrive in humid environments and are much less common today than in the past.
Bumblebee moth (Aphomia sociella) is one of the larger moth species and can grow up to 2 cm long and have a wingspan of up to 4 cm.
The larvae of the bumblebee moth feed on a substance found in insect nests - especially in bumblebee hives, but also in wasp nests, hornet nests, bird nests and honeybee hives.
Wine moth (Oinophila v-flava) are quite different from the other moths that are considered pests, as they do not attack food or textiles.
In nature, wine moth larvae feed mainly on the bark of small trees and shrubbery. In households and businesses, they are most commonly found in damp basements, where they feed on mold on the walls, but can also attack moldy cork stoppers (in wine bottles, for example) and certain dried foods.
Raisin moth (Cadra figulilella) is often confused with the date moth.
The caterpillars of the raisin moth feed mainly on dried fruits such as raisins, figs, dates, etc. but also on damaged or moldy grapes on grapevines. Raisins are attacked until they become too dry. In addition, raisin moths can also feed on cocoa beans, cashew nuts and fallen berries.
House moth is a loose term used to describe moths that thrive in the home. In practice, the term is mainly used for clothes moths, but is also used for fur moths, seed moths and two-colored seed moths (as these are the moths most commonly found in Danish homes).
The term house moth probably originated in the 1800s or 1900s, when the clothes moth was a major problem in Danish homes. This also explains the term's special association with clothes moths.
Clothes moth is a group name for moths that lay their eggs on textiles. The larvae usually feed on the textile they hatch on and therefore also damage it.
When talking about clothes moths, we are mainly referring to clothes moths and fur moths, as these are the two species that mainly attack clothing. However, seed moths can also attack textiles and are therefore also included in this term.
Food moth is a group name for moths that lay their eggs on food. The larvae feed on the food they hatch on and therefore also damage it.
Although food moths include all moths that lay eggs on food, the term is mainly used for seed moths and bicolored seed moths, as they are the most common food moths in Denmark.