WORMS AND WEBBING IN THE BIRDSEED!
By Chris Williams on November 2, 2017.
My wife asked me to set up the bird feeders since the weather is getting colder. I had a big bag of birdseed in the garage left over from last year. I thought it might not be any good and when I opened it, there were white worms crawling up the sides of the bag and webs and some cocoons in the seed. I also found some cocoons on the shelves where the bag was stored. Were the worms fly maggots? D. W., Chelmsford, MA
No, I’m pretty sure they weren’t maggots or fly larvae. Flies don’t spin silk webbing or pupate in cocoons, and they generally don’t feed in birdseed. Sounds like your birdseed was infested by some kind of food moth, most likely the Indian meal moth (see Those White Worms Are Indianmeal Moths).
INDIAN MEAL MOTHS FEED ON ALMOST ANY FOOD PRODUCT
Indian meal moths are quite common pests of stored food in homes, especially dry pet food and birdseed. They will feed in a wide variety of people foods including spices, cereal, cornmeal, dried fruit, nuts, flour, chocolate — just about anything. Infestations usually start in foods that have been around a while, that are past their expiration date, or that are old and damp or moldy.
You may have seen the adult moths flitting around in your garage without realizing it. Indian meal moths are about 3/8-inch long and have gray wings with the outer half of the wings copper-colored. They are attracted to lights and fly mostly at dusk.
When the cream-colored, hairless, caterpillar larvae are fully developed, they wander away from the food source. They look for a sheltered location (often higher up on a wall) where they spin a cocoon and pupate, later emerging as moths (see Meal Moths Leave Cocoons Behind).
THAT MOTH INFESTATION COULD MOVE INSIDE
If your garage is attached to your house you need to be a little concerned that the moths have gotten into your house to infest foods or other items there. The female moth will lay her eggs directly in the food material or on the package. Because Indian meal moth larvae feed on such a variety of things, an infestation is not limited to the kitchen. Larvae can also develop in mosaics or craft projects made of corn, beans, or seeds, or in bean bag chairs, or in fish or turtle food, to name a few.
If you also store pet food, grass seed, rodent bait, or any other “food” in your garage, check these items for moths. Keep an eye out for moths indoors, for cocoons in upper corners of walls or cabinets, or for larvae or webbing in food products. If you notice any moth activity, give Colonial Pest a call. We can inspect your kitchen, pantry, garage, and other areas for Indian meal moths and can set up a control plan. Indian meal moths can easily spread to infest many different stored foods in a home kitchen if not controlled.