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GENERAL PESTS

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A moth is an insect related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. Most of this order are moths; there are thought to be approximately 160,000 species of moth (nearly ten times the number of species of butterfly), with thousands of species yet to be described. Most species of moth are nocturnal, but there are crepuscular and diurnal species.

Moths are not easily differentiated from butterflies. Sometimes the name "Heterocera" is used for moths while the term "Rhopalocera" is used for butterflies to formalize the popular distinction; these, however, have no taxonomic validity. Many attempts have been made to subdivide the Lepidoptera into groups such as the Microlepidoptera and Macrolepidoptera, Frenatae and Jugatae, or Monotrysia and Ditrysia. Failure of these names to persist in modern classifications is because none of them represents a pair of monophyletic groups. The reality is that butterflies are a small group that arose from within the "moths" (being considered as part of Ditrysia of the Neolepidoptera). There is thus no way to group all of the remaining taxa in a monophyletic group, as it will always exclude that one descendant lineage.

Several moths in the family Tineidae are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabric such as clothes and blankets made from natural proteinaceous fibers such as wool or silk. They are less likely to eat mixed materials containing artificial fibers. There are some reports that they can be repelled by the scent of wood from juniper and cedar, by lavender, or by other natural oils. However, many consider this unlikely to prevent infestation. Naphthalene (the chemical used in mothballs) is considered more effective, but there are concerns over its effects on human health. Moth larvae may be killed by freezing the items which they infest for several days at a temperature below −8 °C (18 °F).

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