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Why Do Moths Eat Clothes?

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They don’t, technically. It’s actually their larvae, or caterpillars, that eat clothes, not the adult moths.

It’s only a relatively small group of moths, the family Tineidae, that have any interest in your clothing. Throughout much of the US, you’ll only find two Tineidae species: the webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella). They’re not attracted to your closet for a meal, because the adults don’t eat, and don’t even have the mouthparts if they wanted to. Rather, your clothing is a good place for them to lay a few hundred eggs.

Once these eggs hatch into larvae, then you’ve got a problem. The babies need plenty of protein to move on to the pupa and adult stages of their life cycle and have adapted to eating keratin, the fibrous proteins found in animal hair and skin. This means wool, fur, feathers, leather and even lint are all on the menu. Larvae have been known to chew through cotton, acrylic, polyester and other plant-based and synthetic fibers, too -- not to eat them, but to clear a path to their preferred foods.

The Mothball Defense

When people have clothing moths, they usually turn to mothballs as their first defense, but it isn’t the best one, cautions the National Pesticide Information Center. Outside of an airtight container, the concentration of mothball fumes isn’t high enough to wipe out the bugs, but can cause headaches for humans.

The best way to deal with an infestation, the experts say, is to dry clean anything made of wool or animal fibers and wash everything else in your washing machine’s hot wash cycle. Then, vacuum the floor, the bottoms and tops of the shelves, and even the ceiling to remove any remaining eggs and hungry larvae.

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Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
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What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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