Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic Update - March 3, 2017

The following are highlights and updates about samples and questions recently received in the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic. Visit the PIDC's Facebook page to ask questions and for updates and more pictures. For more information on a particular disease or insect problem listed, follow the article cited.


Bat bugs are very similar in appearance to bed bugs but will only occur in homes infested by bats. The difference between bat bugs and bed bugs is hard to discern without magnification. Bat bugs wander out of attics and wall voids where they have been feeding on roosting bats.  See our online article for more information.

Bat bug control requires preventing bats from roosting in the attic which is best done in September.  See ISU Extension & Outreach Wildlife website for information on bat exclusion: 

Soft scales on house plants are a common sample in the Clinic during winter.  Sap-feeding by these insects feed wekens the plant and their excrement (called honeydew) covers the plant with a sticky, shiny sheen that can sometimes lead to mold growth. There is no easy, simple cure for a scale infestation. One possibility is to pick off individual scales or gently scrub (or rub) the scales loose from the leaves and stems. This is a laborious task that works only on small, large-leafed plants. Sprays such as insecticidal soap or any product labeled for indoor scale control can be used for scale control. Success will depend upon thoroughness and persistence. Insecticides must be applied thoroughly, repeatedly and persistently (weekly for a month or more) to get good control.

Stored food pests can be a year-round problem though many seem to make their presence known in late winter, including recent samples of the drugstore beetle, Stegobium paniceum.  Drugstore beetles are common in stored dried plants such as spices, seeds, grains and dried flowers. Distinguishing characteristics include the downward-pointing head, the swelling on the last three segments of the antennae, and the lines on the wing covers.  See the photo below.

The control of this and other stored food pests is to locate and eliminate the infested items.  Spraying insecticides, washing with detergent, bleach, vinegar, etc. has no effect.

Read more on the Clinic website


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 March 3, 2017. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.