Moths Archives - Pest End

Category: Moths

The Invasion of the Winter Moth

Now that the sun is gradually setting earlier it can be disheartening and somewhat depressing to come home after a long day of work to utter darkness. It can be comforting to have a welcoming exterior light to greet you at the door with the promise of a relaxing evening ahead. What is not welcoming is the mess that may be drawn to your exterior lights or front door – the winter moth!  Let’s take a look at these creatures which seem to be out in droves and are attracted to the lights of your home.


Winter moths, both male and female, usually emerge around the week of Thanksgiving, and this may continue well through December. This may occur whenever milder temperatures prevail during that time period. You may find the males and females on tree trunks around your home. They may be mating or simply attracted to the lights that are in your home. This may mean that they find their way to your front entryway or the siding of your home (windows with lights on). Many homeowners feel under attack by these creatures which may attempt to enter every time the door is opened.


Winter moths can cause serious damage to deciduous plants and trees in the Northeast region of the United States. The Winter Moth was first introduced to the east coast through Nova Scotia from Europe. The local areas which experience the worst of them include coastal Massachusetts, including Cape Ann and the North Shore of Massachusetts. Unfortunately the pest has spread south into Connecticut and north into Maine, as well.

The Winter Moth caterpillar has been defoliating deciduous plant material at an alarming rate in our region. Trees at risk are maple, oak, cherry, basswood, ash, white elm, crabapple, apple, and blueberry, and they can also drop from trees into your plant beds to feed on perennials.


There are several ways to combat winter moths including treatment for the trunks of trees and plantings so that the eggs can not survive after they are laid. Pest-End Exterminators can recommend the best course of action for your home and property if you find that the moth mess is too much to take and that your trees and plantings are becoming damaged. Call Pest-End Exterminators Toll Free: 800-287-4321  Phone: 603-382-9644  Phone: 978-794-4321.

Moth Mania


If you live in the northeast you may have noticed that right around Thanksgiving time millions of small, white moths start to emerge. They surround any area of your home that attracts them with an outside light, window or doors. This behavior of swarming continues through December. Environmental researchers have noticed this winter moth behavior for the past two decades where it began in earnest along Eastern Massachusetts, especially throughout Cape Cod.

Many customers ask us what this pesky moth is doing at this time of year and what brings it out in such amazing numbers? They also ask if these moths are harmful and, if so, what is being done about them? Here is some of the latest information from the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the US Department of Agriculture.

The Winter moth was initially introduced to North America from Europe in Nova Scotia sometime prior to 1950. It exists throughout Europe but for the most part, it is not a problem there because it has a rich community of predators and parasites that keep it in check. Now, the winter moth can be found in all of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and, most recently, Maine. Unlike Europe, the United States has noticed tree defoliation and devastation due to this invasive species. When winter moth populations are high, they can completely strip the leaves from hardwood trees, slowing their growth and eventually killing them.

The key problems of this species has recently been explained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Service. They explain the moth problem in several key issues including:

  • The winter moth threatens the health of hardwood trees in both rural and urban forests across the Northeast.
  • If left unmanaged, the winter moth will spread to new areas across New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Winter moth defoliation appeared in coastal Maine for the first time in 2012.
  • A systematic regional survey for the winter moth has not been conducted since 2007.
  • Little is known about how the winter moth spreads.
  • Establishing the parasitic fly, Cyzenis albicans, may help decrease the winter moth’s spread and ease its long-term management.

Kitchen Chaos

Our kitchens are the heart of our homes. They are the place where our family and friends gather to celebrate, share a meal and nurture relationships. Kitchens however, also serve as welcome habitats for many insect pests. A variety of different insects attack cereals, flour, herbs, spices, chocolate, dried fruits and similar items in our kitchens. These pests can be so invasive that they can cause chaos in the haven of our kitchens. Let’s explore the different pests that can invade the kitchen.

Nearly all dried food products stored in your kitchen or pantry are susceptible to insect infestation, including cereal products (flour, cake mix, cornmeal, rice, spaghetti, crackers, and cookies); seeds such as dried beans and popcorn; nuts; chocolate; raisins and other dried fruits; spices; powdered milk; tea; and cured meats.

  • Indianmeal Moths – These are the most common moths that infest food in homes. Only the larvae feed in stored products, which can be any dry stored food or whole grain. Foods infested with these insects will have silk webbing present on the surface of the product.
  • Sawtoothed Grain Beetles – Sawtoothed grain beetles are found in many different food items, including dried fruit, cereals, nuts, dried meat, macaroni, and seeds. These pests are slender, flattened, and brownish-red to almost black in color.
  • Weevils – Weevils attack only whole grains or seeds, leaving small round exit holes in infested kernels. They rarely are found in nuts, dried fruits, macaroni, and caked or crusted milled products such as flour.

Pantry pests, including pantry moths most often are brought into homes in packaged foods, although they may enter from outside sources, or from adjacent apartments. Talk to Pest-End Exterminators to evaluate and exterminate any of the pests that may be creating chaos in your kitchen.

Winter Moth Invasions?

It sounds like the title of a bad science fiction movie, but, alas, the winter moth invasion is a reality for homeowners of the East Coast of New England and the Islands.  From late November through mid January the winter moths start coming out in droves.  They dive bomb your car headlights, cling to the sides of your house, and flap aimlessly near lights and windows.  What are these creatures, why are they here, what sort of damage can they cause during their short stay in our area, and is there anything we can do to stop this invasion?

A little background – According to Explore Science online, “The winter moth that plagues various areas of the U.S. originated in Europe and showed up in Nova Scotia sometime prior to 1950. It was introduced separately to Western Canada around 1970 and is now also found in Washington State and Oregon.”  It was found in Southeast Massachusetts in 2003, and over the last decade has spread up and down the coast as far as North as Maine and South as Long Island.

Winter Moth 101 – These dull brownish grey moths are considered an invasive species.  The females are flightless but put off a strong pheromone to attract the males during the early winter months.  The males, who can fly, are dazed by the pheromone and plaster themselves near any light, building or just in packs usually on or near homes. (Thus the invasion!)  It is during these swarms that they mate and hide their eggs in bark or on leaves.  In the spring the eggs hatch and green inchworms appear in large masses hanging from trees and devouring the leaves often resulting in defoliation of the tree.  A winter moth’s survival strategy is that its life cycle runs counter to that of most species. They emerge and breed when nearly all potential predators have migrated or gone underground, taking advantage of the brief warm interludes in between cold spells in the late fall and early winter.

Possible Solutions? – University of Massachusetts professor Joseph Elkinton is currently working on a counter solution to this invasive species of moth.  His study of the moths include releasing a parasitic fly population that could virtually wipe out winter moths. In a similar winter moth outbreak in Nova Scotia, parasitic flies all but wiped out the moth population within a few years of establishing residency. Winter moth outbreaks can go on and on, so finding a predator to eliminate the moths is of utmost importance.  Stay tuned to our website and facebook page for updates on Elkinton’s program.