We have a home in Sunriver, OR. When we arrived on 11/27/22 we found bunches of insect wings in every room in the house all around heater vents and w...
Identification of insects #816998
Asked November 28, 2022, 4:24 PM EST
We have a home in Sunriver, OR. When we arrived on 11/27/22 we found bunches of insect wings in every room in the house all around heater vents and windows. We sent pictures of the wings to a termite specialist and he said they are definitely not termite wings or he didn't think ant wings. Rather than being teardrop and elongated shape the end is straight, basically an cone shape. The wings are tan in color, which the specialist also said indicates they are not termite.
Can you help us identify the type of insect that this could be?
The termite specialist is correct, these are not wings of termites or ant specifically Carpenter Ants. They are wings of a moth. Moth however do not break their wings off.
This situation reminds me of a similar one I worked on many years ago. I have some questions that could help me determine what is happening at your house. One thing I am trying to figure out is what kind of moths you have and where in the house they are coming from.
Is the house a second home or one that you have not been home for a little while?
Is the house on a raised foundation with a crawl space below?
Have you seen any signs of moths in the house?
Will you check out your pantry closet and look closely at food packages to see if they are infected with moths?
Do you have clothing with any kind of fur or animal parts.
Do you have mice or have found signs of mice?
What I think may be happening is that you have mice or something that is eating the moths’ body leaving the wings. I have seen this occur several times. Birds are known to so this as well. Let me know if you have any further questions and I look forward to you answers.
I really appreciate your response. That is very helpful. See my responses below.
Is the house a second home or one that you have not been home for a little while? This is a second home. Generally, we get to the house once a month, but due to a surgery we were not in the house from August 17th and November 27th.
Is the house on a raised foundation with a crawl space below? The house is on a raised foundation with a crawlspace.
Have you seen any signs of moths in the house? Generally no. It is central Oregon so we get the occasional moths and other insects but singular and larger. We have never seen just the wings before.
Will you check out your pantry closet and look closely at food packages to see if they are infected with moths? We looked and it doesn’t look like there are moths present. In our home in Portland we have experienced a weevils /moths infestation. In that case we would see a moth or two flying around near the pantry and dead ones in the kitchen area along with webbing in food containers. We haven’t see any of that here.
Do you have clothing with any kind of fur or animal parts. We do not have any fur or animal items in the house.
Do you have mice or have found signs of mice? We haven’t seen any sign of mice in the house. I am pretty sure of that since I grew up with a mother that had an extreme phobia of mice, everywhere we rented on vacation, us kids had to go through the unit cupboards and rooms to clear for mouse sign (I know “too much information”).
The one common item is the wings all were located by the vents around the house. The large piles of wings were on a certain branch of the vents and the wings in the other parts of the house were less. Possibly there could be mice in the vents that have been feeding on the moths and they happen to blow out of the vents when the heat started to come on (since we were gone during the transition from no use of the furnace in August through Sept/Oct to November).
I think you have answered the most important part of our question, that they are moths so not an insect that creates structural damage. We will keep a close eye on our food storage. We don’t want an infestation of that. I do know that in Central Oregon there are significant hatches (not so sure about moths in general) since I am an avid, long-time, fly fisherman, but as you mentioned, moths wouldn’t have had a hatch and then drop their wings.
If you have any further insights or comments that would be great. Again, your information was very useful.
After reading your reply, I believe that your problem is in your vent system and likely is that something is eating the moth’s bodies during the months you have not been at your house. When the system is turned on the wings are blowing through your vents and into the rooms. This would also explain why your pictures showed no other body parts just wings (light enough to easily blow through your vents). Mice are not neat eaters so seeing only a neat ‘pile’ of wings now makes sense. This still leave the question why there are so many moths and what are they feeding on. I would recommend that you have a heating specialist check out your system to find out if there are holes are their mice and what are the moths are feeding on. If a more complete moth is found, it may be possible to ID it.
This work is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.