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Pest Control/Moths won't go away!

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Dead Moths, McNamee
Dead Moths, McNamee  
Dead Moths, McNamee
Dead Moths, McNamee  
QUESTION: Hi. We started getting what we think are pantry moths (as per Terminix) in May 2013.  They lasted until last October 2013 and then reappeared this Spring 2014 again. We live in Philadelphia, PA so think they were dormant in the cold.  We have had terminix here multiple times last year and about 6 times sine May 2014.  They cannot find the source.  We can catch up to 7 or 8 in the house a day after what we presume is a hatching.  We have never had them in the pantry---nothing in any kind of meal/grains, etc.  Everything has since been put in the fridge. We have no children, no pets (so no random food source)  We have them on all 3 floors of our house.  We found about 40 dead ones in the boiler so thought they were coming in from the chimney. Although a chimney sweep said the chimney was completely clear.  We find that there are an abundance of them when we have the skylight open in the top floor (so we suspect something from outside).  But can't seem to find any source. Are they actually indian meal moths? What can we do?

ANSWER: Marlene,

Yes, these do appear to be Indian meal moth. This moth can be very difficult to control once an infestation is established, see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/mealmoth.html for some general information about control. It is unlikely that an exterminator will be able to help much. The key is to find the source not spray insecticide. If you have thoroughly searched the living space the next most likely source is in the walls or ceiling. Rodents will frequently cache seeds in the walls of homes that can then become infested with a variety of "pantry pests". Think of your walls as the mouse's "pantry"! So, rodent control is important. Continue to use the traps to isolate the problem to a part of the house. Keep at it, you'll eventually find the source. Hope this helps.

Jack DeAngelis
 

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the quick response. In regards to using traps, should we keep them all on one floor of the house despite that we are seeing them on 3 floors? are the traps causing the moths to "spread out"?   

Also, we haven't had any rodents in the house. That said, my neighbors are clueless, lazy and not so clean.  I have asked my neighbor to use one of the traps in his basement and he caught only one bug in a few days.  is it possible that the bugs could be coming through the walls (I live in an old row home-mine is redone, his has never been redone)? or more likely that the bugs/rodents are caught between the walls?

Finally, could they be coming from a tree or anything outside of the house??
Thanks again.

Answer
Put traps on every floor and in every room, this will help you figure out where the infestation is greatest (and possibly the source). The traps won't affect the infestation in any way (good or bad). Moths will move between apartments in a multi-family building. The moths are not coming in from outside.

Jack DeAngelis

Pest Control

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions about the control of pest insects, spiders, mites and related arthropods. These household pests include termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, nuisance ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, wasps, and many others. I can also answer questions about using pesticides and other pest control tools such as baits and traps.

Experience

I am a retired university extension entomologist. I've taught and conducted research in urban and agricultural entomology. I've published over 70 extension publications, 20 research publications and several books about insects.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology

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