What the heck are these bugs?

Q. I’m having all kinds of problems with insects in my building. Can you identify these and tell me what to do about them?

Nancy from Boardman

A. There are numerous insects that can invade homes throughout the year. Winter months bring less insects, but ones that can be rather annoying and make anyone feel as if they need to itch on a regular basis. At our clinic, we can identify the insects and help you with control issues. Nancy brought in several insects over the past few weeks. Here are the identifications and what to do about them:

India meal moths – The key is to put all flour, cereal and like substances into sealed containers or Ziplock bags. That is the only way to contain it. Check all cardboard boxes in the kitchen for signs of webbing or eggs. Get rid of anything you suspect may be contaminated with the insects. I’ve had these before – I understand your pain. Just keep at it.

Fungus gnats – We covered this a couple of weeks ago, but should mention controlling dripping water and letting houseplants dry out before watering will help control this annoyance. Don’t water the plants until they are ready to wilt. The fungus gnats need the moisture to reproduce.

Carpet beetles – These are just 1/8-inch long, oval and are generally shiny black. Larvae are about 1/4-inch long, segmented and very hairy. Infestations can come from bird or animal nests. Vacuum regularly to remove existing insects and their food sources.

Fleas – Even if you don’t have pets, fleas can be in the area if pets are in neighboring apartments. Fleas can come from rodents as well. Finding the source, vacuuming daily to remove adults and larvae, steam cleaning, washing pet bedding and working with neighbors to identify the source will help aid the control of the pests.

Ants – During late fall and winter, some ants can swarm if the colony is under a protected area of the building. Identifying the type of ant will confirm if there are any potential problems. Also, it will help determine the nesting site and food preferences.

Drain flies – They look like miniature moths. They often hang around water areas where there are drains. To control them, clean all drain traps until you don’t see anymore.

Proper identification of the insect is the first step towards eliminating the problem. So, Nancy did the right thing in bringing in samples and sending pictures before attempting control.

Insecticides used inside the home should be used with extreme caution. Be sure to read and follow all label directions. Other control options such as eliminating the food source, should be used before resulting to the use of insecticides inside.

Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Winter hours for the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic vary. Submit questions to the clinic at 330-533-5538 or drop samples off to the OSU Extension Office in Canfield.

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