Moth, or Phaleana, a genus of insects comprehending several hundred species which it would be needless to enumerat they are uniformly bred from eggs and no socner hatched than they in which they live; front other insects, which do not form their chrysalis till they are about to change from a caterpillar state into that of a butterfly.
Most moths become nocturnal butterflies; though some species of these vermin, being real maggots, assume the shape of flies : others that of chafers.
With respect to their abode, they are divided into domestic, field, and aquatic moths. The first is the small lead-coloured moth, that lives on fine furs and woollen goods by the destruction of which it often occasions considerable damage : the two latter kinds prey on the leaves of trees, the fibres of wood, bark, etc.
The butterflies of the domestic moth are scarcely half an inch in length, and have four long wings that cover the whole posterior part of the body. From the early spring to Midsummer, they infest our dwellings, and during the night search for convenient places to deposit their eggs, which are scarcely disrcernible by the naked eye. These are hatched within three weeks and produce very dimnutive caterpillars with sixteen feet, and which immediately begin to weave, for their accemmodation thin silken cover from their own substance, not unlike the silk-worm, and then gnaw off the wool and hair from the stuffs on which they are settled. Thus arises a cylindrical texture which, being open at both ends, is gradually enlarged with the growth of the insect. In order to extend this fabric, the caterpillar divides it longitudinally into two parts ; weaves an intermediate piece between each section and joins to both ends a small portion for enlarging its abode. The whole has externally the colour of the stuff from which it is taken, and the substance of the latter affords sustenance to the insect.
In this state, they remain nearly a whole year, and during that period greatly injure clothes or other articles manufactured of wool ; though these destructive creatures fast for many days (probably when changing their skin),and also spend the whole winter in a torpid state. In the succeeding spring, they entirely close their case ; change into a chrysalis ; and, after a few weeks, appear in the shape of moths, which speedily propagate themselves in the manner of bugs. Some species, however, previously desert their habitation, and suspend themselves in the next convenient corner, where they undergo their transformation.—There is a peculiar kind of these vermin, called bastard-moths, the cases of which are open at one end; closely attached to woollen cloths, and removed only when they have devoured the whole substance around the spot : they are of a larger size than the true moths.—Another variety of the latter kind, preys only on the dry skins of animals, the leather covers of books, etc. but their cases are destitute of all motion.
Many remedies have been devised, with a view to extirpate, or prevent the generation of moths: in the progress of the present work, we have incidentally mentioned various vegetables that may be usefully applied to that effect; but to repeat them in this place, would be superfluous ; as the reader will find them pointed out in the General Index of Reference, annexed to the last volume of this Encyclopaedia. Let it, therefore, suffice to observe, that one of the most speedy remedies for their complete extermination, is the smell of turpentine: whether this diffusible oil be employed in a liquid state, by sprinkling it on woollen staffs, or placing sheets of paper moistened with it between pieces of cloth ; or merely by evaporating the oil in shallow vessels, placed contiguous to the articles infested with moths, its effects will be equally certain.
It is remarkable, that moths never infest the fleeces on the backs of animals ; nor even unwashed wool; so that they always abandon the place where such raw material is kept. Hence those persons, to whom the smell of turpentine is too offensive, may avail themselves of this circumstances, and place layers of undressed wool between pieces of cloth, or put small parcels in the corners of shelves and drawers containing drapery of that description. For the discovery of this curious and useful fact, we are indebted to M. Reaumur.
Another, though more disagreeable mode of exterminating moths, is the smoke of tobacco, which infallibly kills them; but the articles thus fumigated should be afterwards exposed to the air, which speedily dissipates the peculiar smell of that narcotic herb.