Indian meal moths are one of the most common kitchen pantry pests. Known to infest grain-based foods, nuts, spices, and dried fruit, Indian meal moths can be found in households, grocery stores, or food packaging facilities. Continue reading to learn more about them and how to get rid of Indian meal moths.
Indian meal moths have a complete life cycle of egg to larva to pupa to adult which is accomplished in as little time as one month or up to a year. Adult female Indian meal moths can lay a maximum of 400 eggs each after mating.
In this article, you will learn how to identify Indian meal moths, why you have an infestation of them, and how to get rid of the Indian meal moths in your house.
How Do I Identify Indian Meal Moths?
There are three distinct stages to help identify Indian meal moths: larval stage, pupal stage, and adult stage. Indian meal moth larvae are responsible for the most damage to stored and appear as off-white caterpillars about half an inch in length. At this phase, they will eat through paper bags and cardboard to get to stored food.
The pupal stage is when the larvae are wrapped in a white silken cocoon which is typically stuck to a structure away from the infestation. Check shelves or the back of the pantry above or below the food containers that have larvae.
As adults, Indian meal moths only live about a week and are approximately three-quarters of an inch long with two-toned colored wings. You may also have eggs in your food containers; however, these are microscopic so you will not be able to see them. If you have eggs, it will not be apparent until they hatch into larvae.
Why Do I Have Indian Meal Moths?
The most likely reason you have an infestation of Indian meal moths is that you purchased food that already had eggs in it. Indian meal moth eggs are microscopic and can be indetectable especially if adult females lay the eggs in food products during packaging at a warehouse facility.
Dried food products like grains, nuts, candy, and fruit can draw Indian meal moths to your pantry if the packaging is not properly sealed. Indian meal moths are also attracted to light and are more common in humid environments.
Porch lights, television screens, and indoor lamps can draw Indian meal moths to your house where they can gain entry. Be wary of leaving screenless windows and doors open on summer evenings especially in climates with high humidity
How Can I Get Rid of Indian Meal Moths?
Once you have determined that you have an Indian meal moth infestation, throw away any contaminated food storage containers. To prevent further infestation or isolate any already egg-infested food containers, move any other food products stored in paper bags or cardboard boxes especially grains, nuts, dried fruit, and spices into sealed storage canisters.
Aerosol insecticides approved for indoor use around food have been shown to be effective again Indian meal moths. The most efficient pest control method, however, is pheromone traps.
Pheromone traps give off a chemical scent similar to the adult female Indian meal moth, attracting males to the sticky pads of the trap and preventing the adults from reproducing. This will stop the spread of eggs in your food.
If your infestation is out of control, call the pest experts at your local and family-owned My Pest Pros, servicing Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland. My Pest Pros can help you get rid of your Indian meal moth problem and protect your family and home. Contact My Pest Pros today at 703-665-4455!