Currently viewing the category: "Pantry Moths, Clothes Moths, Case-Bearers and Meal Moths"
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Pod insect
Location: indoors on wall and on the floor
December 18, 2010 5:14 pm
Hi bugman,
I have these odd pods everywhere inside my home. I find them on the floor or attached to the walls…I am hoping for identification and of course I want to get rid of them! They are difficult to see unless they are on a white wall, I am afraid that they are in more places and I will have a few nasty surprises soon. I have searched your site already and the web but have found nothing similar. Many many thanks for any guidance
Signature: best

Case Bearing Moth Larva

Dear best,
Case Bearing Moth Larvae, like the one in your photograph, are often found indoors on walls.  They feed upon shed pet hair and other organic fibers, and the best way to control them is to meticulously vacuum away their food source.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Tips for a bug-free move?
Location: New York, NY
November 8, 2010 7:30 pm
Hi Bugman,
I live in New York City–a.k.a. Bedbug Central–so when I found a bug on the rug in my closet a few weeks ago, I completely freaked out! I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bedbug–it didn’t look like any of the pictures I’d seen, I hadn’t been bitten, and a thorough search of my mattress and headboard turned up nothing. Still, I panicked!
Thanks to your website, I’m now confident that that bug–and a few that have subsequently appeared–are spider beetles and beetle larvae. (The latter look exactly like the many carpet beetle larvae photos on your site, and they curl up into a ball when touched.) They seem to love the dark corners of my closet (see photo). So far I’ve found two dead spider beetles in a hanging jewelry organizer that I keep in my closet, and a few live larvae–the one on the closet rug, one in a ratty old pair of slippers (which I immediately bagged and threw away!), and one crawling up the tile wall in my bathroom.
Here’s my question: In about a month I will be moving to a new apartment here in the city. Do you think it is worth having an exterminator visit as a precautionary measure? If not, will I run the risk of transporting these pests with me to my new pad? I’m not sure if hiring someone to inspect my stuff pre-move is a smart idea or a waste of money.
I’d also appreciate any tips on avoiding picking up bedbugs during a move. (The other day I saw a mover on the street with one of those filthy blankets that they use for padding, which just seems like asking for bedbugs to me!) I’m planning to pack all of my clothing and linens in sealed plastic containers, wrap my couch and mattress in plastic, and provide my own packing materials. Are there any other steps I can/should take?
Signature: R.D.

Dark Closet: What is lurking in there?????

Dear R.D.,
In our opinion, your desire for a bug free move is a fantasy, and the best advice that we could give you to attempt to accomplish that goal with anything vaguely resembling certainty will probably be rejected by you as an impossibility.  The best way to ensure that you will not take any bugs with you is to leave everything behind, including those nice wool sweaters hanging in the dark closet.  Especially leave all food behind.  Move into a brand new apartment in a brand new building that is composed entirely of synthetic materials.  When you purchase brand new clothes and furnishings, do not buy anything made with organic materials.  Never ever eat in your new home.  Do not store any food in the kitchen.  Make sure that you discard the clothing you are wearing before entering your new home and purchase synthetic clothing prior to your first visit.  Do not entertain nor ever allow any visitors to enter your new home.  There is no guarantee that you can have a bug free existence even with the extreme measures we have described.  We share this planet with insects and other bugs and they can be found most anywhere.  On a more practical level, the measures that you have described in your email sound like a good way to reduce the chances of transporting undesirable creatures from your existing apartment to the new place.  We agree that an inspector and a visit by the exterminator prior to the move is most likely a waste of money, especially since you already know you have Spider Beetles and Larvae in your home.  In our opinion, you probably have cause to be concerned about the moving company you employ and the dirty blankets they use to wrap belongings.  You may want to wash or have all your clothing and textiles professionally cleaned before moving.  Even that might be extreme unless you have cause to believe you have an infestation.  Since you have no evidence that there are Bed Bugs in your current household, you probably do not have them.  You have said nothing about Cockroaches which can also be transported while moving, or indeed, when bringing home groceries or laundry from the laundromat.  Creatures that are considered Household Pests have a nearly cosmopolitan distribution because of they way that they have adapted to living with humans.  These Household Pests include Carpet Beetles, Spider Beetles, Pantry Beetles, Clothes Moths, Cockroaches and others.  We also hope our readership will provide additional advice for you.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

sesame moths?
December 24, 2009
hi bugman.
what are these guys?
i just moved into a sublet and found this little package in the spice closet.  my guess is that it’s been there a while.  it’s still sealed.  they are thriving.
i’m CCing the company that packaged it here in quebec.
perhaps they can say how old it is based on the number on the label –> 08U15V
thanks
michael bailey
montreal

Indian Meal Moth Larvae

Indian Meal Moth Larvae

Hi Michael,
These are the larvae of Indian Meal Moths, Plodia interpunctella.  It was originally native to South America, but now has a cosmopolitan distribution.  It is one of the Pantry Moths that will infest many stored foods, including grain products and spices.  Corn meal, oatmeal, flour, nuts and seeds are all likely sources of infestation, and bird seed seems particularly attractive as a commissary.  The tiny moths fluttering around in the home are a good indication that caterpillars are feeding on some stored food products somewhere in the home.  Often infestations appear in packaged foods, and it is entirely possible that the infestation began at the manufacturer’s packaging plants.  We would guess that the expiration date on those sesame seeds is long expired.  You can find photos of the adult moths on our site and on BugGuide.

Indian Meal Moth Larvae

Indian Meal Moth Larvae

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Inchworm in dirt cocoon?
September 9, 2009
This creature was found on our kitchen counter early yesterday morning. My wife thought it was a bit of dirt (like a small, dried chunk of mud that fell out of a groove in the tread on the bottom of a tennis shoe). Then a small dark-brown head of what appears to be a worm protruded approximately 3mm, and the “dirt cocoon” inched it’s way along in roughly 0.5-1.0 mm increments, moving along just like an inchworm does. The head end extends out 1-3 mm, then it drags the “cocoon” along behind it.
The “cocoon” appears to be made of fine particles of dirt (very fine particles like silt) or maybe wood or paperboard (like cereal box material).
The cocoon is open at each end, slightly fluted (like the mouthpiece of a trumpet), and the “worm” inside can stick its head out of either end.
It seems to be quite shy, as most of the time it stays inside the cocoon, motionless. When taken out of the plastic bag (with a smallpiece of moistened paper towel kept in the zip-lock bag) and set out free on the table, if we are very quiet it will stick its head out after a few minutes and start to inch along.
I might be able to take a video of it moving, using our ditigal camera, if that is of interest (although like all videos the file size could be too large to send easily, and the resulting video does not have the best resolution/clarity). Let me know if you would like the video and I will make one.
We would be most appreciative if you can identify this creature for us. We will make donation to support the website as soon as this is submitted.
Thank you.
Ray
Newhall, California

Case Bearing Moth Larva

Case Bearing Moth Larva

“How does this work?”, or “What happened to my submission?”
I’m wondering how this works. When you, BugMan, or BugMan’s proxy, reply to a “What’s That Bug” submission, does the submittor receive an email notification that you have responded? Or does the response only appear on the website and the originator of the submission needs to check back on the website to see if a response has been posted?
Also, gving the benefit of the doubt, I made a $20 donation immediately after I submitted my question (subject: “Inchworm in dirt cocoon?”, submitted 2009-09-09 circa 17:30 Pacific time US), but I see a few submissions that were made after mine have already been answered on the website, whereas mine has not been replied to as yet.
I don’t know what to expect from your website, so please take a moment and enlighten me as to what to expect. Was the $20 donation too small, or did I submit a difficult question, or are you off on a trip? Please advise & enlighten.
Thank you,
Ray

Hi Ray,
First we want to thank you for your generous contribution.  We also apologize for our delay and your resulting confusion.  We have a very small staff (one person who makes the identifications, formats the images and posts the letters and images to the site, and another person who manages the logistics and technical problems of the website), so we are only able to respond to a fraction of the inquiries we receive.  Though contributing a donation does not ensure that we will be able to respond to a question, we felt guilty that you were given that impression, and we tracked down your original submission in our inbox.  To respond to your question, we try to post interesting or unusual letters or photos, or submissions that might have a general timely relevance and we also directly email that response to the querant.  Other letters just get a brief identification email response, but the majority of letters are unanswered.  Your household intruder is a Household Casebearer, Phereoeca uterella.  BugGuide has much information, including:  “Habitat  Larval cases can be found on wool rugs and wool carpets, hanging on curtains, or under buildings, hanging from subflooring, joists, sills and foundations; also found on exterior of buildings in shaded places, under farm sheds, under lawn furniture, on stored farm machinery, and on tree trunks
Food  larvae feed on old spider webs; may also eat woolen goods of all kinds if the opportunity arises
Remarks  The larval case is silk-lined inside and open at both ends. The case is constructed by the earliest larval stage (1st instar) before it hatches, and is enlarged by each successive instar. In constructing the case, the larva secretes silk to build an arch attached at both ends to the substrate. Very small particles of sand, soil, iron rust, insect droppings, arthropod remains, hairs and other fibers are added on the outside. The inside of the arch is lined exclusively by silk, and is gradually extended to form a tunnel, while the larva stays inside. The tunnel is closed beneath by the larva to form a tube free from the substrate, and open at both ends. After the first case is completed, the larva starts moving around, pulling its case behind. With each molt, the larva enlarges its case. Later cases are flattened and widest in the middle, allowing the larva to turn around inside.
[from Featured Creatures, U. of Florida].
”  Again, thanks for your generous contribution.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What are these moths?
Sat, Apr 11, 2009 at 8:32 AM
We live in Western Pennsylvania, and seem to have found moths which have eaten some of a wool rug we have in a storage area. We started finding them a couple of weeks ago on our walls and ceilings. I have killed about 6 of them. I did my spring cleaning and found some damage on the edge of a wool rug. I am assuming these are the culprits, but I can’t find these on the web to id them.
Moth
Western Pa

Meal Moths Mating

Meal Moths Mating

Dear Moth,
These are mating Meal Moths and they would be feeding on your stored grain products, not your wool rugs. Generally when we get photos of Pantry Moths, it is the smaller Indian Meal Moth, Plodia interpunctella, but your moths are the Meal Moth, Pyralis farinalis. It has a worldwide distribution. According to our Audubon Guide, the “Caterpillar eats grains, meal, bran, husks, straw, and moist stored hay. … Cleanliness and frequent emptying of storage bins are the best means of controlling this insect. Its caterpillars spin tubular webs amond food, eating from an open end.” We would advise that you check the pantry to see if you have an infestation in the oatmeal or other likely food source.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Indian Meal Moths
Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 4:25 PM
First of all, let me say I love your website. I moved from a fairly new and well-insulated family house into a pretty old appartment building, ground level, a few months ago. I’m no more a bug lover than the next person, so I’m just happy I found this site, which has saved me from freaking out a couple of times. First time with a classic case of house centipedes. Now, I only wish! I haven’t killed them (at least not once I knew what they were), but for some reason there are none around anymore. Maybe because of winter? Anyway, now I found out that I have some Indian Meal Moths. They’ve been around on and off. During summer and fall I was pretty sure they were just some normal moth that came in from outside (especially since there was only one or two of them), but in the middle of the winter, much less probable. So I researc hed your website, ended up cleaning my whole pantry (and yes, some stuff was infested, I’m still grossed out). I do still have a few questions, though. Do these types of moths also have cases at the larva stage, or am I dealing with more than one type of moth if I find discarded or unhatched cases? Might meal moths also infest pasta, raisins or even chocolate (I found a larva in an old Nutella jar, which fortunately I hadn’t eaten from in very long)? Also, they seem to be able to munch through thin plastic wrappings….just how thick a plastic bag can they break open? Last question, apart from transferring everything to plastic and glass containers, is there anything that might keep them away, sort of like cedar wood with clothing moths? I tried a bit of rosemary branches in the past, seemed to work, but when I cleaned up, the little pile of rosemary needles had unhatched cases in it….gross. (For the record, I have cleaned the pantry regularly since I moved and I do throw out anything that sits around too long…)
Thanks for your time, I know there are a lot of questions. I’ve included a picture of two meal moths apparently reproducing, which I found while cleaning the said pantry. Thought it might be an interesting addition to the nice pictures on your website. I guess spring is coming for everyone! 😛
Genevieve
Ottawa

Mating Indian Meal Moths

Mating Indian Meal Moths

Dear Genevieve,
The cases you are finding may be the cast off larval or pupa skins. when the insect metamorphoses, it leaves behind the exoskeleton. The caterpillars form a silken webbing in the food source. According to BugGuide, the larvae of the Indian Meal Moth “infests a wide variety of stored food products such as flour, oatmeal, dried fruits, seeds, nuts, powdered milk, biscuits, chocolate, and bird seed ” and “spin silken threads as they crawl through stored products, creating a matted layer of product, frass, and pupal cases.” Vigilance is the best method for controlling Indian Meal Moths and other pantry pests. Your question regarding chewing through plastic may need an expert to answer.

Update: Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 8:32 AM
Thank you for the information. I read somewhere online that bay leaves might be a good way to repel insects from your food stores, so I might give it a try. I’ve captured the remaining adults, so as to limit the damages, and was a bit surprised this morning to find eggs in the jar. They’re still laying them, it’s sort of interesting to see. Anyway, I’m keeping tabs on that (taking pictures and everything) from now on, because I strongly suspect an already-infested bag of rice was the source of the problem (the need to pinpoint a source has become quite strong to my curious mind). I put a few rice grains and a bit of what looks disturbingly like eggs in another jar, and I’m also keeping tabs on that. The egg-like grains were already in the bag before I even opened it. Well, this said, I’ll let you know if anything interesting comes up from all of this.
Genevieve, Ottawa, Canada
P.S. I don’t know if it’s of any interest, pantry moths being very common, but I’ve enclosed pictures of the said moths and eggs…they’re kind of blurry, but it’s the best quality I could get out of my generic Canon. The whitish blurs are the eggs (but obviously not the pile of rice grains!)

Thanks for teh update Genevieve.  Your photo is a bit too blurry to post.  Many aromatic plants are said to repel moths, including your previously mentioned rosemary.  We have also heard wormwood (Artemesia), lavender and mint will repel moths.  The cedar you mentioned may also work.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination