Do Moths Have Teeth (And Can They Bite You?)

Moths live broadly among humans. Many people are also familiar with their nocturnal behavior. These insects can be a nuisance and invade your home if left uncontrolled. So, you might wonder if they can threaten you, your kids, or your pets.

Are most of them dangerous? Or can they even bite or eat through fabrics? This article will examine a few moth species and whether they can chew.

Continue reading to find out more.

Do All Moths Have Teeth?

The majority of moths (if not all) do not have teeth. They do not have mouths to feed or drink. These moths lose their mouths after the pupa stage. No wonder they can only survive for about a week to ten days.

Remember that insects do not have teeth like humans, and moths are no exception. Even so, you can spot a moth with a proboscis but not teeth.

As caterpillars, moths will eat enough food from their favorite leaves to sustain them for their remaining weeks. After a few weeks, the caterpillar will build a cocoon and prepare to transition into an adult moth. The adult moth later emerges without functioning mouthparts after complete metamorphosis from the cocoon.

The Hummingbird hawk-moth and the fruit-piercing moths/calpinae are two examples of moths with a proboscis. The snout is, however, used for feeding. They will not use it to bite you or impair your health.

Can Moths Bite?

No. Moths cannot bite. For a fact, most of them do not even have functioning mouthparts. The only dangerous stage in a moth’s lifestyle is the caterpillar. They have functioning mouth parts and will eat leaves to satisfy their ferocious appetite.

Domestic moths you might spot in your kitchen do not have the interest or the ability to deliver bites. And so you should be confident interacting with different species at home. Instead, you should understand how to handle or eliminate them if you are allergic to their powdery or scaly wings.

Do Gypsy Moths Bite?

No. Gypsy moths do not bite. Furthermore, they do not have functioning mouthparts. These destructive insects eat only during the caterpillar stage and pupate after about 10 to 14 days. Later, they emerge as adults without a mouth to feed or drink.

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So, without a mouth, you should not worry about the gypsy moth biting you.

Remember that a female gypsy moth can lay about 500 eggs. The young gypsy caterpillars will feed extensively on tree leaves. At this stage, they are incredibly destructive, feeding on deciduous trees or conifers.

You can identify a female gypsy moth with its white & brown markings and 31-35mm forewing. The male is grayish-brown with dark brown markings and 20-24mm forewing.

Do Luna Moths Bite?

Luna moths do not bite. Like most other moths, they do not have a mouth or functioning mouthparts. Luna moths feed enough leaves and sap at their caterpillar stage, the same as most moths. Also, they will live about ten days as adults without eating or drinking anything.

You should understand that Luna moths come from the giant silk moth category. They are nontoxic nocturnal insects that can occasionally fly past your compound when the moon is out. Although it can be hard to spot a Luna moth, you should not worry about it biting or delivering toxic stings.

Some people think Luna moths are poisonous because of their bright green appearance and hairy bodies. However, that is not the case. Apart from missing a mouth, the hairs on a Luna moth will not cause skin irritation, rashes, patches, bumps, or allergic reactions in humans and pets.

Luna moths are native to North American deciduous woodlands.

Do Hawk Moths Bite?

As much as hawk moths have a proboscis, they will not bite. They use their proboscis to suck nectar and pollinate flowers. They can travel long distances, and most people confuse them with butterflies.

There are about 1300 different species of hawk moths. However, the hummingbird hawk moth is among the most common specie you might find at home. It is characterized by its brown forewings, orange hind wings, and hovering behavior.

This moth feeds on red valerian garden plants, honeysuckles shrubs, and other common woodland edge plants. Different variations of hawk moths, like the white-lined sphinx and the Cephonodes kingii, feed on nectar with no interest in biting humans.

You should not worry about encountering a hawk moth at home because it will not bite or sting you.

Do All Moths Bite?

No. Moths do not bite. This is because most do not have mouths or a digestive system. The mouths become atrophied after emerging from the cocoon. However, you should not touch any moth species pointlessly because they have fragile wings, and you risk breaking the wings off their bodies.

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The male vampire moth will bite humans and animals to suck blood. The female vampire moth usually sucks nectar and fruit sap from trees. The vampire moths have proboscis similar to that of mosquitoes.

Luckily, vampire moths are harmless, and their bites will deliver no side effects to humans and animals. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and enough water if a vampire moth bites you.

Clothes moth larvae will eat fabric to look for keratin secreted by the human skin. But, these particular moths will not bite you directly when looking for them.

What Does a Moth Bite Look Like?

Not all moths will bite you or a soft surface. However, the few that might bite will leave a mark. The vampire moth is an excellent example of a moth species that typically bite humans and leaves a sore and red spot on the skin. Similar to that of a mosquito.

The vampire moth has a sturdy proboscis that can pierce the thick hide of animals. Occasionally, it can bite unaware humans to suck blood. Similar to how a mosquito does. The bite can be unnoticeable, but the itch and the tiny bumpy red mark on the skin will be evident.

Fortunately, the bite is harmless to animals and humans. The male vampire moth sucks blood, while the female feeds on nectar and sucks fruit juice. The larvae (vampire moth caterpillar) will feed on leaves.

Remember that many moth caterpillars have millions of tiny hairs that might cause skin rash or allergies. These hairs will easily lodge on your skin and cause severe itching. However, some people mistake the itching effect as bites from the caterpillar.

Fortunately, many moth species at home have no particular interest in humans.

Here is a video showing how a vampire moth uses its proboscis to suck blood from a human.

Can Moths Bite Through Plastic?

Yes. However, it’s not every species can. Most will not. However, the pantry moth larvae can bite through soft plastic or Ziploc bags to access food. Luckily, most adult species do not have mouths. But even if they did, hard plastic might be hard for them to chew through.

The Indian meal moth is the most common pantry moth you might find at home.  Most adult pantry moths will lay hundreds of eggs on plastic containers or close to potential food sources. When the eggs hatch in a few days, they become destructive caterpillars that slowly chew plastic containers, grains, and dried foods.

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The common signs of pantry moths in your kitchen include powder on grains and nuts. Adult pantry moths do not have mouths. So, the larvae stage is the most destructive.

Therefore, you should be cautious the next time you store dried food in plastic containers and think they are safe. Understanding all pantry cleaning and de-cluttering techniques would be best to help you deal with the invasion.

Can Moths Bite Through Clothes?

No. An adult moth will not bite through clothes. However, it will lay eggs on the cloth, and the larvae will fiercely eat the cloth fabric. The clothes moth larvae, to be precise, will bite through clothes and material (wool, silk, blended fiber, and fur).

Other popular species like the Luna moth or gypsy moth are not interested in fabric, even at their larvae stage. Similarly, most adult moth species do not even have a mouth and cannot bite through clothes.

There are two common species of cloth moths: the casemaking clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth. You can quickly tell if a cloth moth has damaged your fabric by noticing a few suggestive signs. You might see small or medium size silky tunnels, crusty accumulation, and trenches on woolen clothes/blankets/rugs. Also, you might see furrows and excessive shedding on different clothing.

The clothes moth larvae like feeding on natural fiber because most contain Keratin. Keratin is a fibrous protein found in clothes. The keratin nourishes the larvae, and they can easily digest it.

Fortunately, you can kill the moth eggs, larvae, and adults by washing your clothes in hot water and thoroughly dry-cleaning them. Also, you should vacuum the closet regularly and scrub wooden surfaces to remove cloth moth eggs.

Check out this video to learn more about protecting your closet from clothes moths.

Conclusion

As you have seen, most adult moths do not have teeth and are incapable of biting you. A few species with proboscis also will not bite, nor are they attracted to humans, except the male vampire moth, which drinks animal or human blood.

So, it is essential to understand everything about the Luna moth, gypsy moth, and hawk moth so that whenever you encounter one at home, you will know what to do.

About Stephanie

Stephanie is fond of doing all backyard-related work at her home. She loves to take sunbathe and do a barbecue in her free time. She often shares practical tips and friendly expert advice on everything relating to home and yard on this blog. When she is not writing, she goes camping with her husband and little kids.