If you have ever seen a moth, you might wonder if it can bite you. whether you think they are nice, horrible or you’re just indifferent to moths the majority of moths aren’t harmful to you and most of them even don’t have mouths.

Do Moths bite? Moths are completely inoffensive creatures that do not intentionally bite or sting. Moths are not interested in biting humans and most species of moths don’t even have a mouth that allows it bite.

That being said, it’s good to know the potential risk and effects of moths whether in your home or outdoors. Below we will cover how moths can harm humans, how they can penetrate and injure your skin, and what to do if you have a reaction after you come into contact with a moth.

 

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Can moths harm humans?

Moths and their larvae, caterpillars, belong to the Lepidoptera order of insects. Although there are estimated to be around 160,000 different species in this order, very few moths species are capable of causing adverse reactions in humans. 

To defend themselves against harm, some moths have developed hairs or spurs that can make it capable of directly irritating human skin or transmitting various toxins that can potentially harm humans.

In the majority of cases direct contact with moths is necessary to provoke a harmful reaction. Occasionally, moth hairs or spurs can become detached from a moth and be dispersed by winds, causing reactions in humans. As a result some people can develop allergic reactions to particular species of moths as a result.

In very rare cases, spurs on the legs of large moths can penetrate human skin and cause stings, dermatitis, or urticaria. Rare species of moths, from the genus Calyptra, are able to puncture human skin in order to feed on blood which has been observed in laboratory or semi-natural settings. 

 

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Can moths penetrate skin?

Despite being notorious for eating clothing, most moth adults do not eat at all. Many, like the Luna, Polyphemus, Atlas, Promethea, cecropia, and other large moths we find in our homes do not have mouth parts.

Their brief lives as an adult are spent reproducing and they are able to acquire all of the energy needed for this from the fat stored in the body by the caterpillar.

Some moths have a mouth that is modified into an apparatus called a proboscis. This basically is a very long tongue, which they use to suck nectar from flowers or other fluids. These proboscis are very tightly coiled when not in use, like a hosepipe. For the majority of moths and moths we find in our homes there mouths cannot pierce the skin.

However, a species of moth found in southeast Asia, eastern Africa, China, Japan, India, and eastern and southern Europe called the calyptra species have been reported vampirizing mammals, including humans, in the wild.

Two species of moths, Calyptra fletcheri and C. thalictri, have drawn human blood in laboratory or semi-natural settings such as mesh cages and vials. All of them, including the blood-drinkers, feed normally by piercing fruit to suck the juice. Blood-drinking of humans in these creatures is facultative, not obligate.

 

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Can moths injure your skin?

In order to defend themselves against predators, some moths have developed hairs or sometimes sharp spines that may be directly irritating or capable of transmitting various toxins.

In most cases direct contact with the species is necessary to provoke a reaction.

Occasionally irritating hairs from moths can be detached and dispersed by winds, causing large outbreaks of reactions in humans. These hairs may also surround cocoons, eggs (transferred from the abdomen of female moths), or other environmental objects. 

Hairs from some species, such as the oak processionary caterpillar, are stable in the environment for at least one year.

Some individuals may develop allergic reactions to particular species of caterpillars and moths.

In rare cases, spurs on the legs of large moths can penetrate human skin and cause stings, dermatitis, or urticaria.

 

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What to do if your skin becomes irritated by a moth?

If you develop an itchy and mysterious rash after coming into contact with a moth, you may want to review the following first aid measures below to ensure you can treat any symptoms that may arise as a result of coming into contact with a moth. 

 

  1. Apply a piece of adhesive tape to the affected areas and pull the tape off immediately. This should remove the majority of any spurs or hairs and reduce the irritation. The tape can be examined under the microscope to observe hairs or spurs.
  2. Immediately wash the area with soap and water. Any clothing near the area of the skin should be removed and laundered or washed thoroughly. Commonly irritation occurs from touching the caterpillar or moth, or contact with bed linen after moths or airborne irritating hairs have landed on washing. 
  3. Apply some of the following to relieve any irritation or pain – Ice packs, analgesics, creams, antihistamines and lotions with steroids may assist in relieving the symptoms of both types of reactions.
  4. Consult your doctor if your skin irritation becomes worse over time.

Related questions

Does a moth have a mouth?

No Moths do not have a mouth. Instead of a mouth, they have a tongue like tube (called a proboscis) designed to suck up liquids like sap, honeydew, fruit, manure, nectar on flowers or salts and minerals in mud puddles. So you may be asking yourself know, well what about the holes in my clothes that moths are supposed to make. It’s actually the larvae that do the damage, not the adult moths. 

 

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Do moth bites hurt?

Moths don’t have a mouth, so what you may think is a moth bite might actually be a rash or a reaction from moth spurs.

 

What are the odds of being bitten by a moth?

There is close to a zero percent chance of being bitten by a moth, for the simple reason that they don’t have a moth to bite you with.

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