Questions about insects eating flour and living in the cracks of a wooden cutting boards

Questions about insects eating flour and living in the cracks of a wooden cutting boards

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I have a large wooden cutting board which is used in my kitchen mainly for preparing egg pasta. The wood type is Populus (poplar or aspen or cottonwood).

The main ingredients used with the cutting board are: flour (mainly soft wheat flour), hens' eggs, white sugar, butter, and baking powder.

After the food preparation, the cutting board is cleaned by scraping away the ingredients remains.

The board has some cracks and some small unknown insects are living inside the cracks.

The board has also a lot of holes due to woodboring beetles but I think the woodworms operated long time ago and they no longer live in the cutting board.

The unknown insect has an approximate length of 1 mm (along the direction of their movements) and a width of 0.3 mm. The unknown insects do not have wings, they just walk. I am not able to see how many pairs of legs they have.

The color of the insect is pale brown.

The cutting board was free from these unknown insects some months ago but then they appeared.

My questions:

  1. What insects are they?
  2. Are these insects poisonous to humans?
  3. How can I get rid of them?


The unknown insects could be Acarus siro, I will try to get a picture of the insects.

Update 2

Here is a picture. The bottom part of the image is a one Euro coin, the top part of the image is a caliper (each bright area is one mm tick).

Some more pictures:

This is a species of psocid (of the family Psocoptera, AKA booklice).

Species are best differentiated by their abdominal structure and antennae. Without a better (more magnified) image and info about the OP's location, identification to species is not possible. Though its small size will definitely narrow the options.

If I had to guess based on the limited detail (and my limited knowledge), I'd say it's a species in the genus Liposcelis or related genera. See Oklahoma State's ENTOPLP ID key for examples and info. I've included 2 random images of Liposcelis species for reference: the (TOP) is Liposcelis brunnea and (BOTTOM) is Liposcelis corrodens.

You can find info about prevention and removal from Oklahoma state, King's College London or the Orkin man.

UPDATE: Though I, myself, cannot identify this psocid to species, according to this KCL article, Liposcelis bostrychophila is the most likely candidate. [See here for ID notes].

From the KCL article:

Liposcelis bostrychophila is the principal psocid pest species in the UK and in Europe. This single species, which is mainly an inhabitant of households, is responsible for virtually all of the psocid related complaints in the UK (Turner & Ali 1996)… Recent estimates are that 30% of households contain this species.

Several other small (about 1mm long), flattened, wingless liposcelid species (eg. Liposcelis corrodens, L. pearmani and L. brunnea) can become quite common in industrial sites, particularly in the summer months but are uncommon in domestic premises.

True Powderpost Beetles(Lyctidae)


The adults are tiny, less than 1/4" in size. They are flattened and reddish-brown to black in color. Larvae (woodworm)are white, and cream colored, shaped with dark brown heads. Larvae create tunnels in the wood and become pupae. As adults, they bore out through the wood, pushing a fine powdery dust out.The shape of their holes is round,about 1/32-1/16 pinholes.

Biology, Diet and Habitations

The diet of these beetles is sugar, starch and protein found in the sapwood of hardwood. They attack woods with high moisture. Moisture content of less than 6% is ideal for keeping these beetles from attacking. In the United States, the True Powderpost Beetle is the most common. They are often found in structures that have been built from infested lumber. They can re-infest.

Areas of Attack and Damage

They attack hardwoods depositing their eggs. True Powder Powderpost Beetles breed in dead and dried hardwoods such as the dead branches and limbs of trees. Their presence is overlooked until they are discovered in stored lumber, rafters, joists, finished wood, and furniture products.

Many times the Powderpost Beetle (Lyctidae) enters lumber that is stored or cured. It later emerges afterward. Old wood antiques are frequently attacked by these beetles. Hardwoood floors such as ash, hickory, oak, walnut and cherry are frequently attacked. These hardwoods that are damaged have starch-rich sapwood and are large-pored.

True Powderpost Beetles (Lyctidae) damage is characterized by:

  • Presence of extremely fine, flour like powder falling from the surface holes. The frass left by other wood borers usually contains pellets and has a course texture and a tendency to stick together. When inspecting damage, be sure to distinguish old damage from active beetle infestations.
  • Recently formed holes and frass(sawdust like) are light in color and clear in appearance old holes and frass are dark in color.

False Powderpost Beetle(Bostrichidae)

CREDITS: James Castner, University of Florida

Since the False Powderpost Beetles are larger than other families of powderpost beetles, their exit holes are larger. These holes do not contain frass, but the galleries contain the frass. The frass is tightly packed, tends to stick together and is meal like( contains no pellets).

The adults are 1/8-to 1-inch long, cylindrical, and reddish brown to black. The adults bore into the wood in order to lay eggs, leaving a hole larger that 1/8 inch, usually in wood less than 10 years old.

The larvae are curved and wrinkled. Their diet is dependent on the starch in the wood, they are more common in softwood ,but can attack hardwoods. They require 6-30% moisture content in the wood, and complete the average life cycle in one year.

Most of the hardwoods attacked are not those commonly found used for interior floors,woodwork or trim. Most of this species does not re infest wood after it is seasoned, so the damage is limited to that inflicted by one generation. However the speed of the damage can be considerable.

They are often found in oak, firewood and furniture.

Anobiid Powderpost Beetle (Anobiidae)- Furniture and Deathwatch Beetles

The furniture beetle is found mostly in the eastern half of the United States and it infests structural timbers as well. The Death-watch beetle is found throughout the United States. It attacks building timbers in poorly ventilated areas where moisture tends to collect. These beetles are heard at night making an audible ticking sound. It picked up the nickname,"Death watch," from this behavior.

This insect is a common pest in crawl space timbers located in the southeastern United States. Infestations can become so severe, that loss of structural strength to sills, joists,

Various anobiid beetles attack seasoned wood in the United States. These beetles range in size from 1/32- to 3/8-inch long however, those that attack structures are 1/8- to 1/4-inch long.

They have highly variable body forms but most are elongate and cylindrical. The first body segment (pronotum) is hood-like, hiding the head when viewed from above. The last three segments of the antenna are lengthened and expanded into a club.

The furniture beetle, Anobium punctatum, is 1/8- to 1/4-inch long, cylindrical, and red-brown to dark brown in color. It has a series of pits in rows that run lengthwise on the wing covers. The pits can be seen through the fine yellow hairs that cover the body. The last three segments of the antenna are longer than the first eight combined.

Deathwatch Beetle

  • It does not have the rows of pits on the wing covers and their 11-segmented antenna end in three elongated segments that are as long as the previous five segments.
  • The larvae form tunnels in both softwoods and hardwoods. They require 13-30% moisture content.
  • Their holes are round,1/16-1/8 inches. They can digest cellulose from the wood. They are inclined to the softwoods ,for this reason they are common in crawl spaces and basements infesting the pine used as framing lumber.
  • The powder outside the holes (frass) is fine to coarse, many times with small pellets. The life cycle averages 1-3 years.
  • They commonly re-infest crawl space areas that are poorly ventilated and humidity is absorbed in the wood.

Click to Enlarge
CREDITS: Wikipedia

Furniture Beetles

Furniture beetle adults emerge in the spring from cells just below the surface of the infested wood. Soon afterward, mating occurs, and egg laying begins. The female lays 20-60 eggs in old emergence holes or cracks and v in the wood. Eggs hatch in six to 10 days. The larvae feed for about one year before pupating for two to three weeks. The wood moisture content required for larval development is 13-30%. When development is complete, the adult bores directly to the surface of the wood, emerging through a round hole 1/16- to 1/8-inch in diameter. Development under ideal conditions can be completed in one year however, two to three years is more common. The adults are active at night. Some species are attracted to light.

These beetles commonly infest seasoned sapwood of hardwoods and softwoods. They attack structural timbers, lumber, cabinets, and furniture. These beetles re-infest, and the females usually lay eggs in the wood from which they emerged. The larvae typically follow the grain of the wood when feeding ad fill their tunnels with wood frass. The frass is a fine powder with long pellets loosely packed into the galleries.

Determine if the infestation is active before initiating treatment. Wood in structures and furniture infested by these beetles may go unnoticed until the round adult emergence holes appear in the surface. The characteristic pellets found in the frass and the consistency of the frass are useful in determining what species is infesting the wood. Infested wood can be removed and replaced with treated wood. Reducing the wood moisture content to approximately 12% slows the development of the larvae.

The surface of unpainted or otherwise unprotected wood can be treated, and the galleries injected with disodium octaborate tetrahydrate such as BoraCare or Timbor. These products kill exposed larvae and prevent re-infestation when the eggs hatch and immature larvae begin to penetrate the wood. However, the most effective way to eliminate anobiid powder post beetle infestations is to fumigate using sulfur fluoride or methyl bromide.

Long-Horned Beetles or Round-Headed Borers (Family Cerambycidae)

Most representatives of this family infest and feed on dead or dying trees. However there are many that feed on living trees. There are some of these species which begin their development in dying trees, logs, or unseasoned lumber and then complete the development as the wood seasons.

A common source for these beetles indoors is from firewood brought indoors.

A sighting of these beetles can lead to a false assumption of a structural attack. Firewood that is brought in should be used very soon after it is brought inside.

The beetles of this family lay their eggs in cracks or crevices in the bark or on the surface of rough sawn timbers. The larvae are wood borers.

Mature larvae are large, varying from 1/2 to 3-4 inches long. The body is long and narrow and a light cream color. The rear portion of the head is partly drawn into the body so that only the mandibles and other mouthparts are easily seen.

Adults vary in size from 1/2 inch to 3 inches long. They can be easily distinguished from other beetles by their long, thin antennae which may be longer than the body hence the adults are called long-horned beetles.

The adults of these boers will emerge from the wood after it has been incorporated into the structure. They will not re infest the wood because of its dryness, but they are of great concern to property owners who find them or evidence of their activity.

Old House Borer ( from the family Cerambycidae)

Picture courtesy : UC Riverside Entomology

The Old House Borer is one of the most common from this family, with it's larvae hollowing out galleries in seasoned softwood(pine). It is found in older buildings, but is more frequent in newer buildings,(in houses less than 10 years old).

It is well established along the Atlantic Coast, but infestations have been reported as far as Louisiana and Minnesota.

The adults are brownish-black to black, slightly flattened and about 3/4-1 inch long.

The life cycle of the old house borer ranges between three to twelve years. Because this beetle has a very long life cycle, it can make re infestations of the same piece of wood. It may be many years before serious structural damage is recognized. The exit holes of emerging adults do not occur in very large numbers until the infestation has been established for several years. This, along with the fact that larvae will do extensive feeding without breaking through the surface of the wood, make it necessary to inspect infested wood very carefully to detect old house borer damage.

Rough wood being examined should be probed or struck to detect weakness or the presence of boring dust. If exit holes are present, they will be broadly oval and about 1/4-3/8 inch in diameter.

When wood has been infested with fungi, the larval development is faster. Their powder (frass) in the tunnels are like sawdust, tightly packed.

How Rats Get In

Once you know how rats come into a building, you can check your home for places they could use and take steps to prevent them from moving in. Rats (and mice) can enter buildings:

  • through cracks or holes in walls or foundations, even holes as small as a dime
  • by digging under house foundations if they are shallow enough
  • through open windows, doors, sidewalk grates, or vents (check in the basement or walls for vent openings)
  • by squeezing through openings in the foundation or wall for pipes or wires
  • through floor drains, quarter inch gaps under doors, letter drops and fan openings and
  • from inside large packages of food or merchandise.

Reader Comments

Trica Post

Submitted by Cheryl on June 8, 2021 - 4:46pm

First, I just finished cleaning my pantry and took everyone's advice. (this is my first experience with these moths) lets hope this gets rid of them. Second, I'm real curious about Tricas' post from March, I hope she got them this time.

Persistent little mothers

Submitted by Garden Elf on May 31, 2021 - 1:56pm

Our house has an open floor plan, so the moths go straight up from the kitchen to our bedroom in the loft. I found a larva inside of one of my files in a file box in the closet. not sure if they can eat paper or clothes, but I was pretty surprised to find one in my files.
The glue traps work, but they only attract the males. The females are free to go, and if they are already fertilized, you still have to deal with the babies. They LOOVE laying eggs on silicone. I have silicone jello molds that were covered with cocoons. Nasty little beasties. It's ON. We also got a bug vacuum, but they're smart, and they know which way to climb or fly to get out, so you have to cover the end with your hand until you're outside.
Vegan partner will not place traps, but he likes the non-violent bug sucker.


Submitted by Trica on March 31, 2021 - 10:15pm

I have had these for over 12 years. IM NOT JOKING. I eliminated ALL food sources, could NOT find anything they could be eating and a few times I thought they were gone and that I had eradicated them and then, poof, there they are again in full force. I noticed they laid eggs on EVERYTHING I OWN LITERALLY and they like plastic bags (outside or inside, but the bags to lay eggs and form the cocoon on). They live in my clothes and i find old cocoons all over. They are in my closets, all my drawers, on everything from pictures o the wall, to items i own. I dont care what it is, they live on everything and i do not know how they are so bad in my bedroom which is the furthest from the kitchen, but they have infested my bedroom. im livid and im sick of it. So, im going to fumigate with house bombs and ill let you know. The only way to get rid of the pupa eggs cocoons is to do this. The pheromone traps work very well to trap flying moths but not until they have met up with the woman it seems! I am so tired of this. I'm ready to run away! Its embarrassing and horrific! Many times there were NO nests but I threw away everything food in my kitchen. I only found a nest twice in that time and they were newer. By the way, they love dog jerky! There were billions in my dog jerky! UGH. I dont get how they can live with NO real food. I think they are like everything else and they have morphed into super moths because they dont have food sources and they are thriving in rooms with ZERO FOOD. i keep doors closed and they are worse in there than in my kitchen! I find new cocoons in ceiling crevices daily too! All over the house! I have 2500 sq ft of insanity and moths! Its bad. I do think the traps work good those or it would be even worse. FYI people, its not inhuman. You are killing them anyways so who cares if they flutter for a very short period of time. It's an insect and if you dont look in the trap you wont notice. I have looked and i rarely see one fluttering. Its not like people are making it sound. You can live with bugs in everything or put out the traps. Its not any different than bombing them or hitting them and killing them! Its still killing. These creatures lay eggs on pencils, etc. I have tons of craft supplies and projects and there is so much stuff its impossible to kill the eggs and larve by wiping so im gonna try bombs! Im praying it works. From what im told only certain ones will work. I will re post after its done and a few weeks goes by. PRAYERS. im considering packing everything and storing it all in storage for a few months in the heat of the summer and super cleaning every square inch of the house and starting with an empty house but i have a lot of stuff so its going to be hell, so bomb first! I'll be in touch shortly, wish me luck! Thanks!

Diatomaceous Earth

Submitted by Linda Hansen on March 22, 2021 - 9:57am

I have the Indian Meal Moths, and while the numbers have gone down, there are still quite a few larvae on the ceiling in the kitchen. I have food grade diatomaceous earth, and am wondering if it's effective in eradicating these pests? (The DE was purchased for use with my dog, to get rid of worms and other parasites.)

Pantry moths

Submitted by Bonnie on January 4, 2021 - 1:21pm

We have an infestation of pantry moths that began in our new bathroom. They came in with toilet paper! They seemed to be eating it. Toilet paper was scarce during this pandemic so instead of tossing it, we put it in the freezer. I’m going to try the diatomaceous earth in the drawers and I just ordered a big container of bay leaves. I hope that will do the trick. So far our pantry has been spared. We are using the traps. I just don’t understand why we see only one a day. I was also wondering if they had gotten into our heating ductwork.

Dryer Vent!!

Submitted by G on November 20, 2020 - 10:15am

We noticed pantry moths about a year ago. Upon investigation, we found the guilty culprit was an infested bag of wheat meal. We cleaned out the pantry, threw a bunch of stuff away, cleaned everything, froze everything, re-stocked and put out the pheromone traps. We seemed to have had some success but later noticed they seemed to be coming out of our clothes dryer. We especially noticed them when we would pull out the lent trap to clean it, moths would come out. We took the dryer completely apart and could find no signs of them. I placed a pheromone trap inside the dryer vent that goes up and out of the roof and seeled it. We have not seen a single moth in any of the traps in the pantry or laundry room but when I unseeled the vent, the trap had several. So they appear to be nesting in there. Any ideas on how to deal with that. I am at my wits end!

Tricky problem

Submitted by Margaret Boyles on November 23, 2020 - 3:39pm

I’m not sure what you mean by “sealing” your dryer vent, G, but those moths you see may be the last of them.

Unless they have a food source close by, any eggs laid by the female moths might hatch, but the larvae can’t grow. If you do see more moths, keep checking for any potential food sources. You might spritz around the vent area with a half vinegar-half water, or a 10 percent bleach solution with a spray bottle. Let us know what happens!

Pantry and meal moths

Submitted by Jusy on November 9, 2020 - 5:00pm

Bake that flour and those grains! THEN store them in glass. So all it takes as enough time to bring the medium to 150 degrees, let it cool and package it.

I agree with the pheromone traps being beneficial. If it grosses you out, consider the alternatives. It’s not so bad after all! I prefer Dr. Killigans traps. They seem to work better for me if I get lax and don’t bake something. ie had some moths get in the pantry in a bag of raw nuts and didn’t notice them right away . ugh! (ears laid flat:)

Pantry moths

Submitted by Bernie on October 21, 2020 - 7:23am

Noticed pantry moths (and some slugs) in my kitchen about a month ago - I was killing about a dozen to twenty a day. I cleaned out my pantry - found a pack of moths in a box of curry-flavoured nuts - at least I know how the whole thing got started! Even after empyting the pantry (what remained of my food went into the fridge or on the kitchen table) and cleaning out the shelves the moths kept coming back. So I read what everyone was saying here and this is what I did: 1) I thoroughly cleaned the hinges of the pantry (they looked suspiciously dirty) and 2) I put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on the shelves and basically anywhere where I had found some moths. I also slipped in a few bay leaves on the shelves. I haven't seen any moths in a week! Thank you for the great advice, and my heart goes out to those who are still fighting these pests!


Submitted by DENNIS KLINGELE on October 11, 2020 - 8:10pm

PET FOODS are sometimes more than you asked for! We have parrots, and found that we were sharing space with pantry moths and at first didn't know why..finally figured out they were coming from the open bags of bird seed, we sealed the bags, and studied to find that freezing the bags and keeping the food in sealed "jars" would keep the pantry moths under control. That worked fine and the pantry moths went away. Then after many months they were back. Not Happy..What went wrong? Well again we did our homework and then our son, was feeding our dog, and announced that the dog food bag was alive with pantry moths, more homework and sure enough, turns out a lot of dog food is also coming with pantry moths included..BAD BAD, so now we have forty plus pounds of dog food with pantry moths, thought about packing it back to the store, however found that many have then brought another bag home with more pantry moths, so we took some dog food out of the bag and froze it to have some food to get us by till we figured this all out. The dog seems to like the frozen dog food better, at least after it thaws! How will we freeze all that dog food? It certainly will not fit into the freezer! and freezing it in smaller containers is OK for now, however really not too good in the long run. Then after more study, found out that these pantry moths also die with heat, and 120F for four hours or 140F for two ours makes them go away, even the eggs or such. Being a engineer, I then decided that was the answer. We put the dog food bag in a large tote, on top of a few short 2x4 pieces,, so air could move all around the bag, added a heater, a thermometer to see how high the temperature is inside the tote, and were good to go. Turns out most small room heaters have internal high temp limit thermostats that limit maximum temperature to around 110F or so. After some more study, found that the common hand held hair dryer has a higher temperature limit, and gives us a little over 140F inside the tote, even running at low (750W) setting. So we are now pantry moth free. Life is very good. I know this was long, however hope that it helps those who want to save the pet food.

Pantry moths

Submitted by Teresa on September 15, 2020 - 4:08am

You might want to add ceilings to the areas where you find the worms. I live in an old home and thought the things up there were painted-over staples. until I realized that they weren’t in the same place every night! Now I go check several times a day to get them down, one at a time because they are amazingly fast, with a broom. Disposal is a matter of whatever you’re comfortable with.


Submitted by DW on September 13, 2020 - 6:24pm

The moths can lay their eggs through plastic, creating microscopic holes that you can't see (whether you're storing goods at home or buying a bag of flour or rice), and then the larva can chew their way out after fattening up on the contents. So don't store anything in plastic in your pantry, bc it won't keep the moths out or the larvae in.

In addition, we all have to stop using plastic -- most of it doesn't get recycled, and it's a MAJOR pollutant that is causing enormous health problems for all animals, including humans. I urge you to read the two articles below (the 2nd is in comic-book format, and is very short).

www . npr . org/2020/09/11/897692090/how-big-oil-misled-the-public-into-believing-plastic-would-be-recycled

www . theguardian . com/us-news/2019/jun/23/all-the-plastic-ever-made-study-comic

Pantry moths -- what works for me

Submitted by DW on September 13, 2020 - 6:14pm

*** Pls note that the moths will also feed and lay eggs in compostables. Bc I live in an apt. and need to save my compostable bits (a local market accepts them), I had placed a metal pail on my back burner, and that's where they re-infested. The pail contained sweet-po peels, apple cores, and banana peels -- and apparently they were a hit. (I made sure to dry all items before popping them in, in order to avoid mold.)

I have almost gotten rid of the moths by:
--- storing most non-canned edible items in the fridge or freezer (I'd do it anyway to keep beans and rice fresh),
--- transferring the remaining items (sugar, flour, nooch) to large glass jars with secure seals, and
--- using traps.

Yes, the traps are inhumane, and I struggle with that -- I stopped eating most animal products bc I don't want living creatures to suffer and soon will give up all. But I'm willing to accept this suffering because I'm unable to keep up with frequent spraying of essential oils, and that would lead to an even bigger infestation and more suffering.

Thanks, Ms. Boyles, for sharing so much useful info.

Pantry Moths

Submitted by Slippery Slope on September 5, 2020 - 10:45pm

We found using bay leaves stopped our long time Infestation. Layered them in our pasta packages and boxes and haven't seen any in years. I was definitely surprised. I bought a large bag at an Indian grocery store for cheap and freshness.

Pantry Moths

Submitted by sharon on June 27, 2020 - 1:51pm

This is just another "fix" for the moths. we used diatomaceous earth in all our cabinets and elsewhere to put a halt to them

Pantry Moths

Submitted by Jill on June 11, 2020 - 11:47pm

I had them about 6 years ago. I had to throw out all my food. While shopping I then noticed that a bag of rice I was picking up to buy had the silky webbing in it. You can tell because lightweight things like rice hang funny in the bag as though they are full of static or defying gravity. I changed grocery stores because I realized they were infested and haven't shopped there again. What I did was bought a bunch of ball canning jars in the 1/2 gallon and quart size. Everything goes in those immediately. Cake Mix, pudding, crackers, popcorn, everything. I then use those oxygen absorbers and a few bay leaves. The critters are gone. They haven't come back in 6 years. Btw I don't trust zip lock bags to keep them out because during my initial infestation things in zip lock bags were infested too. Go with glass.

Tried everything

Submitted by kate on June 10, 2020 - 9:13pm

Like other people here, I've tried EVERYTHING and nothing works. Here's what I've done over the last six months:
• All contaminated food items were discarded.
• All food items that aren't in the fridge or freezer are in air-tight containers and ZipLoc bags
• All food items have been frozen for at least 4 hours, and all new food items get frozen when they arrive.
• There is no sign of infiltration in my food items: no larvae, no webs, no signs of entry. This has been the case since December, when I cleaned and sealed everything in Ball jars, ZipLoc bags, etc.
• My pantry shelves have been washed
• I bought peppermint, eucalyptus, and cedarwood essential oils and mixed with white vinegar to make a spray, which I spray several times a week in the affected areas (on the wall and ceiling). Warning: peppermint and eucalyptus is POISONOUS TO CATS so I have been careful not to spray it near them or near their food dishes.
• I even bought those pheromone glue traps. I hate glue traps b/c the animal suffers. I constantly monitor it and kill the moths that land, but of course I feel horrible when I wake up in the morning and see there have been moths struggling there for who knows how many hours. I do not recommend these. They are cruel and don't solve the problem.
• I personally kill every moth I see in my apartment throughout the day. When I go to bed at night, I see zero. You'd think their population would finally disappear, but nope: the next morning there are more. The mostly come out at night after dark. I kill about a dozen per day.

I'm defeated. I don't know where they're procreating, and I don't know what they're eating, since it doesn't appear to be my food.

Pantry Moths

Submitted by Gale DiVeglio on June 3, 2020 - 9:26am

To help control pantry moths, I made a mixture of vinegar, water, 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil & 5-7 drops of peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle! I suggest you wear a mask when spraying bin an enclosed area! We sprayed all cracks in our pantry once a week until no more moths were found! It does take awhile, so be patient!

Pantry moths

Submitted by Theresa on October 20, 2019 - 6:38pm

We did everything g, vacuumed, washed with bleach, repainted the pantry, cleaned cans, and still have moths! We but the traps every 6 weeks. Have been doing this for a year. We keep boxes of food in the refrigerator and freezer. It does appear, though, that they are ingesting the One Bite poison we have for rats, but it doesn’t seem like that’s even doing anything. We’re ready to give up!

Freeze 7 days then put iin zip locks

Submitted by markk on October 20, 2019 - 8:33am

free foods flour and other items for 7 days kills the eggs . Then store in zip ock bags

Darn moths.

Submitted by Lori-Ann Allen on October 16, 2019 - 1:13pm

Like others have said, some things that definitely have helped me:
•all feedstuffs in airtight containers, helps against other pests too, so win/win
•search out and eliminate adults and larvae. I use an electric racquet made for flies. In the morning and evening the adults will rest. Find them and ZAP. "Worms" do indeed love crevices. Vacuuming those with a brush usually gets them.
•freezing bulk stuff a few days before storing airtight to avoid anything that came along in it.
Haven't tried the Bay leaf trick yet, but thanks for the hint y'all, I will be looking to add that to the arsenal!

Food in zip lock bags

Submitted by Linda McLendon on November 13, 2019 - 1:01pm

the moth larvae or WHATEVER stage can EAT thru the plastic, that did NOT work for me.

Bay Leaves!

Submitted by Melissa Selleck on October 16, 2019 - 11:08am

I've had problems with the meal moths in my dried products in the past but, after disposing of the infested product I included a couple of bay leaves in my ne dried products (i.e. flour, rice, spices, etc.). I haven't had an issue with the moths since. Just toss a couple of bay leaves in your dry products containers and you'll be good to go. They don't like the presence of the leaves. I keep them in my bird seed, in my flour, in my legumes, in my rice, well, you get the idea. It's natural and it works. Good luck everyone!

Pantry Moths

Submitted by Trisha Wain on October 15, 2019 - 6:34pm

I had a major infestation a few years ago. I found a really cheap 50lb bag of wild bird seed. I opened it only to have a face full of those moths come out. Next thing I know they were making little cocoons in every room of my house! Especially where the wall and ceiling come together. I did all the cleaning and the purging. My best idea was to buy 2 butterfly nets at the dollar store, for my grandson (5 yrs old) and I. We would go moth hunting together. It still took a while to finally clear them out but, the fun we had together doing it, was well worth the time.

Indian Meal Moths

Submitted by Ruth on October 15, 2019 - 4:29pm

I found the pheromone traps to be the most effective. I hid them at the back of my pantry and eventually wasn’t finding any more webs or moths infiltrating my dry goods.

Pantry moyhs

Submitted by Steven Schultz on October 15, 2019 - 3:55pm

I have used moth traps that were quite ridding my pantry of moths.

Flour bugs

Submitted by Camielle Steele on October 15, 2019 - 9:30am

My Mother said to keep a couple bay leaves in your flour container and it will keep bug out of the flour. I am 80 years old, have always done this and have never had bugs in my flour container. I don't use it often so I know this works.

Pantry Moths

Submitted by Denise T on October 15, 2019 - 11:37am

I agree with Camielle. I've used bay leaves with some success as long as there wasn't a bad infestation. If there is, the pheromone traps work really well.

Pantry moths

Submitted by Wendie Howland on October 15, 2019 - 8:02am

I stopped having pantry moths decades ago. The glass jars are good, but the best is to completely foil incoming infestations by rethinking storage. All susceptible products, i.e., tea, corn meal, oatmeal, barley, spices that didn’t come in sealed glass, etc., live in my freezer. When the ants make their annual spring visit, the Cheerios and Chex go in too. Plenty of room in there, and nary a larva or moth again. If I want to, after a few days or weeks I can replant them in glass for the cupboards. The birdseed lives in a big metal trash can outdoors in a wooden locker secured from raccoons and squirrels, and winter takes care of anything that hitchhikes in with it.

Cabinet Moths

Submitted by Jo Chichester on October 15, 2019 - 7:56am

A few years ago I read that bay leaves will repel the moths. I've sprinkled them in my pantry ever since and, yes, they do. No more moth problems.

Pantry moths

Submitted by Lisa Livingston on October 15, 2019 - 7:15am

I had a horrible moth problem 2 years ago. I think they came in with my son’s parrot food. They had completely infested his room and moved on to my pantry. Like others I threw everything out and cleaned well. I researched natural solutions and somewhere along the way someone recommended bay leaves. To this day I have bay leaves taped to my pantry walls and ceiling and have not had another moth problem.

I had them too!

Submitted by robert meier on October 10, 2019 - 7:01pm

My wife will go through a 50lbs bag of flour in a year. I bought a sealed lid container to put the big bag of flour in. They are called Gamma2 Vittles Vault on Amazon. They work!


Submitted by Felicia Bussell on October 15, 2019 - 8:26pm

Moths in the flowers

Submitted by Karen on October 23, 2018 - 6:39am

Several weeks ago i bought two large flowering plants for the indoors for the holidays. They are a type of mum and in a deep burgundy, so lovely to look at in the living room. I then noticed moths flying around them or the lighting. Couldn't figure it out but then when I water them again more moths. I put them outside to completely water them then tried again. In the mean time while they were outside, no moths inside. It seems to me that the flowers had become root bound and dried out too much at the market place, then attracted moths? Anyway, I have left them outdoors this past week and have not suffered them in the house. Anyone had this experience? I haven't even seen a moth until I got those plants.


Submitted by Nora Cox on October 15, 2019 - 3:54pm

I'm thinking what you are seeing are Aphids, they look like moths but are smaller and white in color. If so you can take plant outside and there is a spray insecticide made especially for them.

To all of you with seemingly unsolvable meal-moth problems

Submitted by Margaret Boyles on October 15, 2018 - 3:44pm

The national Cooperative Extension website, E-Xtension offers a wonderful Ask-an-Expert feature that will connect your question(s) with an expert on the topic in your particular area. Do check it out!

Cannot Find the Food Source

Submitted by Diana on August 28, 2018 - 12:27am

My roommate and I have been living with cupboard moths for the past 2.5 years.

These moths came into our lives by the way of infested borrowed flour.

They have since invaded our lives.

As suggested, my roommate and I did a major clean of our kitchen. We used bleach, soap and hot water and dichotomas earth on all cupboards and drawers. We used traps. We noticed a significant decline in our population to the point that we saw nothing in our traps. We thought we were free after 2 years.

However, we never were able to move the fridge or stove to get behind these appliances sweepers/cleaned. So perhaps that's where they resided?

Fast forward to approximately 2 months ago. My roommate and I move into our new place. Never lived in. Brand new.

Suddenly we begin to see these moths. Obviously, we were never free of our pests and they must've hopped on a ride on some appliance or something. And they're multiplying like crazy. We confirmed their presence after observing them in newly placed traps.

We threw out all food that we didn't need (almond flour in airtight sealed glass jars) and a bunch of things in our fridge. We threw away so many cookbooks and checked all our manuals (that resided in a cupboard in our kitchen for signs of these pests. (Side note for 2.5 years my roommate and I placed all our spices, flour everything in the fridge- we had no food in the cupboards).

Things we couldn't bare to throw out- teas and spices have now been in the freezer for almost 2 months.

We threw away any appliance we thought could be infested- a Crock-Pot, a toaster, two blenders. We have a new espresso machine that I cleaned feverishly with vinegar (my roommate just got this $300 machine and I would hate to have to get her to throw it out) We placed dichotomas earth in our cupboards, cleansed everything with vinegar (including peg holes and door hinges). We have not cooked in our new place or brought new groceries. Anything brought in has been placed on the fridge.

These moths have been found in the kitchen, the living room and the foyer.

We had a pest control company come in and do a spray. They sprayed everything. And at first it was fine. 3 days later we found live ones in our traps AND fluttering around.

About a week and a half later we got a second spray. Night of the second spray we saw one fluttering by the fridge but it appeared to be dying. We killed it anyway.

I found a dead one by my bathtub and assumed I mustve stepped on it and brought it in accidently. Why would it be in my bathroom. What food source could there be? But today, ten days after our 2nd spray (where they apparently drenched our couch and rug. just in case) we find a small live one by our tv.

I'm at my wits end and ready to move from this brand new apartment, break the lease and abandon all my belongings. Realistically, I can't do that.

We've searched high and low- we think we eliminated their food source.

Can Indian meal moths live in the fridge? Can they live in appliances like tvs, PlayStation store etc? Could they reside in the soil or cactus plants we have bought? Where do these suckers feed? As we're so certain we've removed their food source? Do they live in sink drains perhaps.

We seen no larvae. Nothing.

Please- what is our next step? What are we missing?

Pantry Moths

Submitted by Beverley on October 6, 2018 - 3:37pm

I have been dealing with them for a year. Followed EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF ADVICE that exists and still they are here. Summer and its high temperatures was the worse. They just had a population explosion. I am at my wits' end.
How the hell do they just keep on coming?

Indian Meal Moths

Submitted by Nina on October 23, 2018 - 8:11am

You're likely to find these moths thriving in the back, motor section of your refrigerator. They like the warmth and there's plenty of crumbs and stuff under the refrigerator to keep them going. They also like to live under your stove and dishwasher for the same reason. I don't know why these places are often not mentioned in articles about getting rid of the moths. 99% of the time, that's where they are. If they're not under these appliances yet, your infestation will be simple to end. Just look through your stored, dry foods, find the source, and throw it away. The scrubbing, the other laborious recommended actions are not necessary and do no good. Most often you'll need to buy a new refrigerator though.

Cupboard moths

Submitted by Ron from Mercer PA on October 23, 2018 - 6:35am

We fought this problem for over a year. Fortunately, we told our local farm and feed store about the problem. They carry pest strips that you hang in the kitchen. These are the same strips that they use to protect the inventory in their store. IT WORKED . No more moths.
Advise. go to your local feed store and see what they use!


Submitted by JANE on July 13, 2018 - 9:56am

I just experienced pantry moths. I actually gutted my pantry totally. Used peppermint oil in my diffuser and sprayed with 91% alcohol to drug them and then killed them with a flyswatter. It took me a month to get them all out. Then I painted the room completely and thankfully I have not seen any in the past month. When I set off bombs in my house it acted like they fed on it and multiplied faster. Never want to go thru this again.


Submitted by Prather Lewis on October 19, 2017 - 3:39am

I am having problems with weevils in my flour grits and meal. I store them in sealed plastic containers. What can I do is it because the eggs were already in the bags when I bought them?

Miller moths

Submitted by debbie on October 18, 2017 - 6:58pm

We put all grains, dried fruit, etc in glass jars, tight plastic bins. I put bay leaves in them. Millers and other weevils hate bay leaves. I have a home bakery and these bugs are the enemy! If you get an infestation the only thing we found to really get them out was a bug bomb. Of coursd you have to find and get rid of whatever has the bugs in it.

Thank you for this

Submitted by Beverly on October 18, 2017 - 1:10pm

Thank you for this informative article.

Pantry Moth

Submitted by Sheila on October 18, 2017 - 9:44am

I have putting bay leaves in my buckets of bulk goods keeps them at bay. Great article!

Have Bay or Eucalyptus? Moths will take an Exit

Submitted by Diana on October 23, 2018 - 3:02pm

Sheila has the right idea. No moths in my cupboards for years since I began using Bay leaves and/or leaves of Eucalyptus which grows rather abundantly on the West coast. Simply tie a sprig into a clean sock or net bag, place on shelf or hang it on the inside of a cupboard door on a small hook or tiny nail, and give it a squeeze. Replace once a year or less or more. Moths hate what they consider the stink, but we consider aromatic. Don't put leaves behind or beneath appliances though, that would be a fire hazard.


Submitted by Darnell Fugate on October 15, 2019 - 8:40am

I am 71 years old and always place 2 Bay Leaves directly in each of my dry food storage glass canisters (not tightly sealed), replacing leaves yearly. The leaves are big enough to just take out when getting your flour, etc. and then lay it back inside. Only had a moth problem once when I moved and forgot to put in the leaves. Threw out the contaminated flour and meal and replaced with new but also placed the Bay Leaves inside each container. I also keep the leaves laying around inside all my cabinets and behind my appliances. Learned this trick from my mother when flour was sold and stored in cloth bags, she would later use the bags to sew me dresses.

Cupboard moths

Submitted by Melissa Gladstone on October 15, 2019 - 10:08am

My Grandma said, "put bay leaves in all your canisters after you decant your items, then leave bay scattered in the cabinets"

Treating Oak wood

With regards to finishing and treating oak, there are numerous possibilities but there are certain requirements that are asked for time and again… Often we are asked how external oak can be kept looking natural. Whilst the question is easy, the answer is not so straight forward. These are the necessary considerations: –

  • When water penetrates oak it reacts with the high tannin content within oak, resulting in ‘blackening’.
  • The Sun’s UV rays will turn the oak to a silvery hue over time.
  • Clear products are inevitably not completely clear so they tend to ‘bring out’ the natural colours of the oak, normally making it a bit darker and warmer.
  • The levels of rain, wind and sun will make a difference to how quickly the oak changes colour.

Oak turned grey / silver by UV rays & water damage

Oak Barrels traditionally used for Whisky and Beer

If the requirement is to keep the oak looking as natural as possible, whilst preventing blackening or silvering as much as possible, then the following is the best system we know of: –

Osmo 420 extra offers UV resistance and also contains biocide which is important for external timbers as it prevents the wood from becoming diseased with wet rot, dry rot and blue stone etc. The oil also repels water, thus preventing it from going black.

If the requirement is to protect the oak whilst keeping the silvery appearance then the following is the best:

Tung oil is one of the clearest oils on the market and doesn’t offer UV resistance.

If the exterior oak needs to be coloured then the following system is recommended:

  • 1 coat of clear wood preservative
  • followed by 1 coat of your chosen colour of Osmo Natural Oil Woodstain
  • followed by 1 coat of clear Osmo UV Protection Oil 420 Extra

If blackening on exterior oak needs removing then scrub with a fungicidal wash such as Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner is recommended. On the other hand, it may be the silvering that needs removing. If so, a scrub with Osmo Wood Reviver Gel (which contains oxalic acid, amongst other active ingredients).

  • Finished Oak
  • Unfinished Oak

One of the most common enquiries we get is how to keep internal oak looking natural. This is not just a case of simply applying ‘clear products’ as they bring out the natural colours of the wood, thus making it a little darker and more golden. A very good indication of how your oak will look once it has been finished with a ‘clear’ coat is to dampen an area by applying some water with a clean cloth or sponge. The look achieved when the wood is damp/wet is very close to how it will look once a clear varnish or a clear oil has been applied.

Some customers like the way oak colours when clear coatings are applied to it whilst others want it to be as close as possible to how it looks in its natural state. A more natural look can be achieved by using wood oils that have been specifically formulated to retain the natural appearance of interior Oak. These products include: –

  • If an oiled finish is preferred then apply two thin coats of Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural or Osmo Polyx Oil Raw.
  • If a varnished finish is preferred then 1 part Manns Classic Wood Dye can be mixed with 50 parts Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish.

Clear wax polish is the one exception to the above… If a clear wax polish is applied to bare oak (or just about any other wood for that matter) then the colour is kept very natural indeed, it’s just a question of whether a wax polish is going to be durable enough. Internal doors, for example, are considered, by most people, to be ideal for finishing with wax, whereas a floor will look nice once waxed but regular maintenance is required, so most people don’t opt for wax for this reason.

If the oak needs to be made darker then Osmo Polyx Oil Tints or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints are ideal because they colour and protect the wood in the same application. It is always good to try and finish with a clear coat if possible because if the wood gets scratched it is the clear coat that scratches before the coloured coat and therefore the scratch is not as noticeable.

Oiling Consideration

If oak is being oiled it is a good idea to sand it with sandpaper that is no finer than 150 grit. The reason for this is that the pores of the wood are more open thus allowing the oil to sink into the wood better. Better absorption equals greater protection.

Interesting Oak Stats

  • Oak bark is rich in tannin and is used by tanners for tanning leather.
  • Acorns can be used for making flour or they can be roasted for making acorn coffee.
  • Tannin dissolves and escapes from the wood. Wine barrels are made from oak and it is the tannin that helps to give the wine its’ colour.
  • Sessile oaks of Europe and can reach heights of up to 40 metres.
  • Oak trees regularly live to be 500 years old, although 1,000 years old oaks are also known.
  • A mature oak tree can produce up to 50,000 acorns!

Black Walnut Trees

The black walnut tree (Juglans nigra) is one of North America’s most valuable and beautiful native trees, but it does have a “dark side.” Here’s what you should know before planting a black walnut in your yard—and how to harvest and eat the tasty walnuts, too!

Facts About the Black Walnut Tree

The easily worked, close-grained wood of the black walnut has long been prized by furniture- and cabinetmakers for its attractive color and exceptional durability. Its logs are in such demand for veneer that “walnut rustlers” have made off with trees in the dead of night and even used helicopters in their operations.

The early settlers discovered black walnuts growing in mixed forests from Canada to northern Florida and west to the Great Plains. They found that its rich-brown heartwood was exceptionally resistant to decay and put it to use as fence posts, poles, shingles, and sills.

When surrounded by other trees in the forest, black walnuts grow straight and tall with few, if any, lower branches.

When planted in the open, the tree will branch out closer to the ground, developing a spreading shape that makes it easier to harvest its sweet, round, two- to three-inch nuts.

Settlers snacked on the nutritious walnuts out of hand, added them to soups and stews, and ground them into meal for baking the hard shells provided a perfect package for storing the nuts over winter.

The “Dark Side” of Black Walnuts

Although the black walnut has many uses and benefits, the tree does come with a caveat: the black walnut’s roots, which may extend 50 feet or more from the trunk, exude a natural herbicide known as juglone. This substance is also found in the tree’s leaves and fruit husks.

Juglone does serve a purpose, though. It inhibits many plants’ growth under and around the tree, thereby limiting the tree’s competition, leaving more water and nutrients for itself.

Tomatoes, potatoes, apples, pears, berries, and some landscape plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, and lilacs may be killed or stunted if grown in close proximity to black walnut roots or within the tree’s drip line (i.e., under the tree’s canopy). Plan your landscaping accordingly!

A Great Shade Tree

In spite of this, black walnuts make great shade trees for larger properties. They commonly grow to 50 feet or taller and about as wide, but specimens of more than 100 feet have been recorded.

Black walnut’s large, fernlike foliage provides light, airy shade for those grasses and ground covers not affected by juglone. In autumn, the leaves turn bright yellow, contrasting nicely with the tree’s rugged, dark bark.

Black walnuts require a deep, fertile soil with a near-neutral or slightly acidic pH. They are pretty much disease-free and are threatened by few pests.

Picking Up the Nuts

Thud! Thud! Most walnut tree owners have a love/hate relationship because of the fruit which the tree drops in late summer though October. The size of a baseball and colored lime green, the fruit is quite heavy. It makes quite a mess and can be viewed as a nuisance.

Walnut tree owners will spend hours picking up the fruit some years. If you don’t remove the nuts, you’ll trip over them in the dark for the rest of the year (while they rot and mold on your lawn). Hire the kid down the street to pick up those the dropped walnuts (just be careful not to pay per nut—you’ll go broke)!

Photo Credit: John A. Anderson

Harvesting and Eating Black Walnuts

If you’re willing to do the work of cracking the outer shell, the “meat” inside is edible, as the squirrels will attest squirrels have little problem chewing through the shells. (Note: Black Walnuts are different than the English Walnuts more commonly sold in stores and shown in the photo above.)

The sweet, earthy nutmeat inside is well worth the effort. Your grandparents may have harvested the walnuts which can be eaten raw or added to baking (cookies and bars). They can also be toppings on ice cream and cakes, enjoyed as a sweetened candy nut, or ground into meal for a unique flour.

To harvest, collect the nuts as soon as possible to avoid mold and remove the husks immediately. Wear gloves as the husks stain your hands (and anything they touch). If the nut is too hard, wait a few days and it will brown and soften up.) To remove the husk, you can simply step on them gently with an old pair of shoes. Hose down the nuts in a large bucket to remove any remaining husk.

Dry the walnuts for a couple of weeks on a screen or drying rack or in a hanging mesh bag. You can store them unshelled up to a year. Crack the shell with a hammer to get to the nut meat. (Strike at a 90-degree angle to the seam until the nut cracks). Use pliers to easily clip away the shell to release the nutmeat. Allow the freshly removed nutmeat to dry for a day before storing.

Do you have a black walnut tree? Please share your comments, questions, and advice!

How to Keep Spiders Away

This article was co-authored by Chris Parker. Chris Parker is the Founder of Parker Eco Pest Control, a sustainable pest control service based in Seattle. He is a certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator in Washington State and received his BA from the University of Washington in 2012.

There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 663,982 times.

If you don't want to deal with spiders but hate the idea of exterminating them after they’ve already invaded your space, there are several tactics you can use to keep them away altogether. Some techniques will limit the number of spiders hanging out in your yard while others simply discourage them from finding their way indoors. Keep reading to learn more.

Native Ants

Ants are not all created equal. There are many species in Texas and it just takes some persistence and knowing what to look for to tell them apart. Most people think that only imported fire ants are around. But if you look closely and take time to learn a little ant biology, the ant world can be a captivating place. Red imported fire ants are real pests, with few natural enemies in the United States. Many other ants live here too, but most are not considered serious pests, although any ant may be considered to be a nuisance when locally abundant. In fact, some native ants are in constant competition with the imported fire ants and may even help humans in the war against this invading species.

Native and exotic “desirable” ant species that compete with fire ants are sometimes difficult to identify, but once their characteristics and habitats are revealed, most are easy to spot – and perhaps even use them to our advantage against imported fire ants. Described below are some common competitor ant species, how to identify them, what their nest looks like, where they live, and what they eat (Hodges, S. A.1992):

Pyramid Ant, Dorymyrmex spp.

Pyramid ant mound

The pyramid ant is a small ant about 1/8″ long. Key identifying feature is a pyramid-shaped projection on top of the thorax. They are red-black or dark brown. It builds its nests in open, sunny areas. The workers deposit the soil in a circular crater or mound around the entrance hole and are usually 2 to 4 inches in diameter. These mounds are usually located near the nests of other ants, particularly harvester ants. The colonies can also be found under decorative rocks and logs. Workers move quickly and forage in ready trails. They feed on other insects and are fond of the honeydew produced by aphids and scales.

Bigheaded ant, Pheidole spp.

Bigheaded ant,
Pheidole spp.

Bigheaded ants have two sizes: workers – major workers (soldiers) and minor workers. Major workers have a very large head in proportion to their bodies. Bigheaded ants are most often confused with fire ants, but imported fire ants do not have workers with larger heads. Bigheaded ants usually nest in the soil in protected locations such as under rocks, logs, firewood, patio blocks and landscape timbers, although they will nest in open areas of soil. They typically feed on live and dead insects, seeds and the honeydew produced by insects such as aphids and scales. They are considered major predators of fire ant queens which are present in large numbers following a fire ant swarm.

Common House-infesting Pest Ants (from Drees, 1998)

Pharaoh ant, Monomorium pharaonis

Pharaoh ant,
Monomorium pharaonis.

Also called “sugar ants” or “piss ants,” pharaoh ants are some of the smallest ants, about 1/12-1/16 inch long, with a light tan to reddish body. pharaoh ants are the most commonly occurring indoor ant in Texas. In hospitals it has been suspected to be a carrier of more than a dozen pathogenic bacteria including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Pseudomonas andClostridium. These ants do not sting and usually do not bite. Pharaoh ants are omnivorous, feeding on sweets (jelly, particularly mint apple jelly, sugar, honey, etc.), cakes and breads, and greasy or fatty foods (pies, butter, liver and bacon). Nests are rarely found outdoors and almost anywhere indoors (light sockets, potted plants, wall voids, attics, in any cracks and crevices) particularly close to sources of warmth and water.

Life cycle: Complete metamorphosis. Development of worker ants progresses from a egg (5-6 days), to several larval stages (22-24 days), a prepupal stage (2 to 3 days), through a pupal stage (9-12 days) to an adult ant, thus taking from 38 to 45 days from egg to adult (4 days longer for sexual forms).

Colonies consist of one to several hundred queen ants, sterile female worker ants, periodically produced winged male and female reproductive ants (sexuals) and brood (developmental stages). These ants do not swarm. Colonies multiply by “budding”, whereby a large part of an existing colony migrates carrying brood to a new nesting site.

Carpenter ants, Camponotus sp.

Black carpenter ant,
Camponotus sp.

Fourteen species of carpenter ants occur in Texas. The largest species is the black carpenter ant, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, which is found primarily in wooded areas outdoors. Common indoor species, Camponotus rasilis and C. sayi, have workers that are dull red bodied with black abdomens. Worker ants range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 inch. They can be distinguished from most other large ant species because the top of the thorax is evenly convex and bears no spines. Also the attachment between the thorax and abdomen (pedicel) has but a single flattened segment. Although these ants can bite, they do not sting. Galleries excavated in wood to produce nesting sites can weaken structures. Foraging worker ants in the home can be a nuisance. These ants usually nest in dead wood, either outdoors in old stumps and dead parts of trees and around homes (in fences, firewood, etc.) or indoors (between wood shingles, in siding, beams, joists, fascia boards, etc.). Ant colonies are often located in cracks and crevices between structural timbers, but the ants can also tunnel into structural wood to form nesting galleries – although this is rare for species occurring in Texas. They often appear to prefer moist, decaying wood, wood with dry rot or old termite galleries. However, damage is often limited because these ants tunnel into wood only to form nests and do not eat wood. Galleries (nesting tunnels) produced by carpenter ants usually follow the grain of the wood and around the annual rings. Tunnel walls are clean and smooth. Nests can be located by searching for piles of sawdust-like wood scrapings (frass) underneath exit holes. These piles accumulate as the nests are excavated and usually also contain parts of dead colony members. Occasionally carpenter ants, particularlyCamponotus rasilis Wheeler, nest under stones or in other non-wood cracks and crevices. Foraging worker ants leave the nest and seek sources of sweets and other foods such as decaying fruit, insects and sweet exudates from aphids or other sucking insects. Life cycle: Development from egg to worker ant occurs in about 2 months.

Carpenter ants are social insects and live in colonies made of different forms of ants or “castes”. Mature colonies contain winged male and female forms (reproductives), sterile female workers of various sizes, and a wingless 9/16 inch long queen. Winged forms swarm during May through late July. The presence of 3/4 inch long winged forms in the home is an indication that structural damage may be occurring.

Crazy ant, Paratrechina longicornis

Crazy ant
Parathechina longicornis

Crazy ants are small, dark grey to black ants easily recognized by their extremely long legs and antennae. Crazy ants get their name from their habit of running about erratically with no apparent sense of direction. Colonies can most often be found living in soil, under items such as logs, stones, landscape timbers, wood, debris, and living under above-ground swimming pools. Crazy ants feed on a wide variety of foods, including other insects, grease, and sweets. They have been known to feed on the larvae of fleas and flies, and also have been observed carrying away fire ant queens immediately following a swarm.

Workers of the crazy ant are fast-running grayish black ants with long legs and antennae. Although they nest primarily outdoors, they will forage in homes. They are omnivorous, but are difficult to attract to ant baits.

Other Common Ants

Acrobat ant
Crematogaster sp.

A number of other ant species are occasionally encountered in and around the home. Theacrobat ant, Crematogaster sp., nests under stones, in stumps or dead wood and occasionally invade the home. Some species make carton nests in trees. These ants have a heart-shaped abdomen that is often held up over their bodies. They feed primarily on honeydew produced by aphids.

Argentine ant, Iridomyrmex humilus, workers are light to dark brown and generally nest outdoors. It is not common in areas infested by the red imported fire ant. Bigheaded ants, Pheidole species, have major worker ants with relatively large heads compared to their bodies. They have 12-segmented antennae with a three-segmented club. Their habits are similar to red imported fire ants, feeding on live and dead insects, seeds and honeydew outdoors and greasy food sources and sweets indoors.

Ghost ant

The little black ant, Monomorium minimum is a slow-moving small and shiny black ant. Workers prey on insects and feed on honeydew produced by sucking types of insects such as aphids. Workers of the odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile look somewhat like red imported fire ants, but have a pungent “rotten coconutlike” smell when crushed. Workers oftramp ants, Tetramorium species (e.g., T. bicarinatum), also resemble the fire ant, but on close examination the head and thorax are roughened with parallel grooves rather than being smooth. The ghost ant,Tapinoma melanocephalum, is also becoming a problem in Texas.

Common Turfgrass Ants (from Drees et. al 1993)

Harvester ant

Several other species of ants occasionally cause concern. (see Table to identify turfgrass pests). Many of these species are native to the state and are not considered to be major pests. Pyramid ants are grayish black and produce small mounds featuring an edge or rim around the top. These ants are not harmful. Another native species, the little black ant, is common and its colonies are seldom encountered. This species is known to prey upon the queens of the red imported fire ant. Although the red harvester ant produces denuded areas of coarse soil particles around the central openings to its colonies, this native species is seldom harmful. Harvester ants can bite and sting and can be dangerous to sensitive individuals. These ants also serve as food for the ever rarer horned toad.

Texas leaf-cutting ants produce numerous hills or “towns” around their colony sites. These ants harvest vegetation on which to grow a fungus, and then feed on the fungus. The leaf-cutting ant is not very common, but colonies can be a problem in turfgrass areas. Although vegetation can be protected by repeated applications of contact insecticides, eliminating the colony is the only way to prevent recurring damage. There are few methods of safely eliminating colonies.

Little black ant, Monomorium minimum
Little black ants are very small black ants and closely related to the Pharaoh ant (an indoor pest ant). They nest in soil under rocks, logs, or debris and build nests in open areas of soil in lawns. The nests in the ground are small craters of very fine soil. Their colonies will also be found under the bark of trees, in debris trapped in the crotches of trees, and in wood damaged by termites, in firewood piles and in stacks of bricks and stones. Little black ants feed on a wide variety of foods including live and dead insects, and the honeydew produced by aphids. The ants are active foragers and forage in trails of a few or up to hundreds of workers. These trails can be located along sidewalks and foundations and up the sides of buildings.

Drees, B. M., G. McIlveen, Jr., R. L. Crocker, C. Allen, M. Merchant and J. Reinert. 1993. Integrated pest management of Texas turfgrass. B-5083. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. 27 pp. Drees, B. M. 1997, 1998. House-Infesting Ants and Their Management. L-2061. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. 8 pp. (Reprinted 1/98) Drees, B. M. and J. A. Jackman. 1998. A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects. Gulf Publishers, Houston, Texas. 359 pp. Hodges, S. A.1992. Field Guide for the Management of Structure Infesting Ants. Pest Control Technology, Franzak & Foster Co. (4012 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113) 155 pp.


Ask a Question Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

Question: Identifying Tiny Black Bugs in My Carpet?

How can I identify these tiny bugs that are almost invisible, although they are black? We have almost white carpeting in most of the rooms and you have to look very closely to see them. When you are just ready to pick them up, they begin to move. I now use the method of getting them on paper and then placing them in an tight used medicine bottle. Some live for weeks some so tiny the look like this: ( . ) others looks like tiny beetles. You don't notice they have wings until they are turned upside down. I cannot see legs, nor antenna, just this ( . ).

They have been found mostly by our PC tower, others in the master bedroom. I am going zonkers trying to find out if I need an exterminator and are they dangerous to our health. Anyone, someone, please help or refer me to an authority on bugs. The exterminators will not come out unless you identify them, dud, I can't. Thank you and please help.

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