Stored Product Pests May Be Active All Winter

We don't expect to see insects in the winter but household pests may surprise us and be active any time they are sufficiently warmed by the heat from the furnace.  Examples include the accidental invaders such as boxelder bugs and lady beetles, insects that emerge from firewood, and stored product pests living, eating and growing inside stored products such as bird seed, dry pet food, and stored food in the cupboard.

One of the more common household stored food and seed pests is the Indian meal moth.  The adult moths have distinctive two-toned wings that are one-half inch in length.  The base of each wing is tan and the outer half is coppery-brown.  Indian meal moth caterpillars are slightly less than one-half inch long, have a dark brown head and vary from off-white to light pink in color.  Caterpillars live and feed inside a wide variety of stored products but a few leave to wander around the house and will be seen on walls and ceilings.

Control of Indian meal moths and other stored food pests requires locating and eliminating infested products ("locate and eliminate").  Sprays and cleaners are of no benefit and do not solve the problem because they do not get rid of caterpillars inside the infested products.  

Find more at the ISU Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic website.

The Indian meal moth has two-toned wings.
The Indian meal moth has two-toned wings.


Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on December 13, 2013. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.