The Giant Atlas Moth is Here – Threats and Facts

A Giant Atlas Moth Rests on the leaves of a tree

The average house moth is about half an inch long from wing to wing. They’re mottled grey and brown, and a common pest in attics, closets and wardrobes. You’ve likely seen them before and thought nothing of it. But if you were to step outside in Washington and catch sight of a massive, deep-orange insect with a wingspan roughly the size of your hand, you will have been lucky enough to see moths like you’ve never seen them before. They’re called Atlas Moths, native to Southeast Asia, and they’ve recently been spotted in the United States for the first time in recorded history. But what can you expect from these so-called “gentle giants”, and what are the chances they’ll show up in Tennessee?

Atlas Moths: What You Need to Know

How does a moth like the Atlas cross thousands of miles across the globe to the Pacific Northwest? The answer to that is still uncertain, but there have been reports of a party in Bellevue, WA selling Atlas moth cocoons from Thailand for $60 a piece. Regardless of where they came from, they are federally quarantined pests, meaning it’s illegal to obtain, harbor, rear or sell them without a permit. Currently, it’s uncertain whether there is an actual infestation in Washington, and residents are advised to photograph any potential specimens and report them to the state department of agriculture. You can identify an Atlas moth by the following:

  • Size: Atlas moths are one of the biggest moth varieties in the world, with a wingspan of up to ten inches.
  • Coloring: Their wings are vibrantly hued in shades of brown, orange, white and black.
  • Wing tips: Possibly one of the most distinct qualities of the Atlas Moth are the tips of their wings, which evolved to resemble the heads of cobras, as protection against predators.
  • Movements: The Atlas Moth will stay in one place for hours at a time during the day. They are so focused on conserving energy that you can easily lift them up on your hand or finger during.

With all that in mind, if you see one of these legendary exotic insects you may still ask – are Atlas moths bad for Washington? And is there a risk of seeing an Atlas moth in Tennessee?

Possible Dangers of the Atlas Moth

If you see an adult Atlas moth, it wouldn’t cause much trouble other than the possible initial shock. They don’t sting or bite, they have no poison or any defense mechanism, other than the faux cobra heads on their wings. Adult Atlas moths are virtually harmless – so much so that they actually don’t even have the ability to eat. They survive for only a few weeks on the sustenance they obtained in their larval state. It’s in that exact period pre-pupation when Atlas moths are the most dangerous.

The caterpillars of the Atlas moth reach up to 12 centimeters long, and from the moment they hatch up until they spin their cocoon they are constantly eating. They do this to build up fat reserves, which gives them the best chance possible of surviving into adulthood long enough to find a mate. When raised in captivity, their diets are monitored to prevent damage to the rest of the enclosure. While the exact implications of the first Atlas moth specimen in the United States are still uncertain, it’s possible that their presence may harm the crops of fruit trees in Washington. And since the moth’s native land is Southern Asia, there’s a chance of these giant moths traveling to the warmer, more humid parts of the country that more closely resemble their natural habitat, like Tennessee.

What to do if You See an Atlas Moth

At Johnson Pest Control we’re capable of eradicating all the major pests seen in Tennessee. However, the Atlas moth is a protected species, so we don’t suggest making any attempts to harm it. The simple truth is that, if you see an Atlas moth, all you need to do is take a photo and report its location to your local state plant health director. After that you can just leave it be. It won’t hurt you or your household and will likely move on within a few days. However, there is something we can do if there are other moth types infesting your home or property. Johnson Pest Control employs a team of qualified exterminators that can work out of your residential, commercial or government property. All you have to do is contact us today to get started!

7 Houseplants to Keep Bugs Away

A venus flytrap in Eastern TN - Johnson Pest ControlWith all of the at-home and DIY pest control solutions that you can find on the internet, it can be hard to tell what actually works to keep pests away without professional intervention. If you’re looking for a reliable source, you’ve come to the right place! The technicians at Johnson Pest Control have been serving the Eastern TN area with inspections, preventative maintenance, and extermination services for nearly 40 years.

Over this time, we’ve developed an intimate understanding of the habits and features of local pests in the area. As such, we’ve learned how to repel them and can help you do so on your own. Read on to learn more about houseplants that you can keep around to prevent pest infestations!

7 Houseplants that Can Repel Pests

It’s important to preface this information by saying that simply placing houseplants in areas where you commonly experience pest infestations will not be the final answer to your problem. Some plants can, however, discourage certain pests from establishing breeding grounds or being active at sites that might otherwise be hotspots. Here are 7 plants that you can use to repel bugs:

  1. Citronella: You’ve probably seen citronella candles marketed as insect repellent products in stores. The plant itself has the potential to deter mosquitoes, flies, and other insects.
  2. Basil: This is another plant that works particularly well against flies and mosquitoes. It will also prove useful in your kitchen!
  3. Spearmint: This plant is easy to grow, smells fresh, and is proven to deter aphids, moths, fleas, ants, and more.
  4. Dill: Sticking to the trend of traditional garden herbs, dill is a helpful herb to repel aphids, spider mites, and other insects that commonly infest gardens.
  5. Catnip: Catnip can be difficult to grow indoors, but with the right amount of sunlight it can protect you from ants, beetles, cockroaches, and more common household pests.
  6. Venus flytrap: Although they are high maintenance plants, venus flytraps are fascinating organisms that will snatch up flies and other pests in your home if they get too close.
  7. Pitcher plants: Pitcher plants are other kinds of carnivorous plants, but are quite difficult to grow. These are a better option for an advanced gardener.

Reliable Pest Control Options for Your Home

Although the thought of using plants to safeguard your home from pests is a fun, non-toxic, environmentally friendly option to consider, it will not provide your property with optimal protection. If you’re looking to keep pests out of your home year-round in Eastern TN, ask your local pest control company for help. Our team at Johnson Pest Control is equipped to deal with all sorts of bugs and wildlife in the area with comprehensive strategies and advanced technology. Contact us today for a free quote!


Tips to Get Rid of Clothes Moths

Clothes moth on fabric in Sevierville TN home - Johnson Pest ControlOne of the most common household pests that many people don’t talk about is the clothes moth. These pests can cause homeowners quite a bit of distress, especially when they destroy garments and fabrics in your wardrobe. Because these pests seemingly come out of nowhere, it’s important to learn how you can prevent them—and keep your clothing intact! Thankfully, a few simple pest prevention techniques go a long way in preventing not just clothes moths, but other moths and insects and pests as well. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know with the experts at Johnson Pest Control!

What Are Clothes Moths?

It is rare to spot clothes moths due to the fact that they avoid light. Nonetheless, it’s important to learn how to identify them and the damage they cause. Clothes moths are only about ½-inch in length and are beige or light gray in color. The easiest way to identify these pests is, unfortunately, by noticing the damage done to your clothing. Unlike pantry moths (which feast on foods in your pantry), clothes moths crave natural fibers found in clothing, drapes, curtains, carpet, bedding, and more. When feasting on these fibers (silks, cotton, wools, etc.), they can create tiny holes that will quickly become noticeable.

How to Prevent Clothes Moths

Needless to say, the last thing you want to deal with is a closet full of damaged clothing from these tiny insects. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help prevent clothes moths:

  1. Keep a clean and tidy wardrobe. A crowded closet can be more susceptible to clothes moths as it’s harder to spot the damage. Regularly washing clothes—even ones that you may not be wearing at the moment—prevents moths that are more attracted to dirty, dusty fabrics. When introducing new items to your wardrobe, especially secondhand items, always inspect for moths.
  2. Try mothballs and traps. This traditional deterrent has been used for decades to deter moths in your closet. If the smell of typical mothballs displeases you, try making your own using fragrant essential oils like rosemary, clove, lavender, or citronella. While not always successful, sticky pheromone traps will confuse male moths and prevent them from breeding.
  3. Commit to good housekeeping practices. In general, keeping a clean environment inside your property is your number one defense against a pest infestation. Regularly cleaning or vacuuming your rooms and closets will eliminate the conditions that attract clothes moths and other pests in the first place.

Need Help Getting Rid of Clothes Moths?

If you’re unsure about the presence of clothes moths in your home or need assistance getting rid of them, the experts at Johnson Pest Control can help. We know how distressing pests in your home can be and work hard to eliminate the conditions that attract them in the first place.

Contact our experts today to get started!