Indian Meal Moths: Pantry Pests that Live a Long Time

Indian mealmoth or Indianmeal moth Plodia interpunctella of a pyraloid moth in wax of the family Pyralidae is common pest of stored products and pest of food in homes

The Indian Meal Moth is a hearty little pest that loves to feast on the grains in your pantry. Today, we’re here to give you a few tips on how to evict these bugs and keep them from coming back.

If you’ve got an enormous infestation of Indian Meal Moths or any other bug that’s fighting for control in your home, it’s time to call in the professionals at Environmental Pest Management. We’ll get you back to ruling your roost pest-free in no time.  Call today for an estimate.

Caterpillar of mealmoth in a box with sesame

Grains and Other Foods: a Vehicle For Moth Eggs

If you open your pantry and see a few of these moths fly out, you might be wondering how they got there in the first place. It’s no wonder. Indian meal moth eggs are microscopic. 

Even though our food producers take precautions to keep them out of the general food stores, sometimes an egg or two manages to cling to life on some food packaging and eventually flourish in your flour cupboard.

These moths can hitch a ride into your home on the following foods:

  • Cereals
  • Grains of all kinds
  • Assorted flours
  • Dried Fruit
  • Candy
  • Pasta varieties
  • Mixed nuts
  • Powdered milk
  • Pet food

You can tell you’ve got an issue on your hands if you see the moths themselves, or if you notice a fine web-like substance on certain foods where you suspect the moths have originated. 

Caterpillar of Indian mealmoth

The Meal Moth Life Cycle

Like any insect, the meal moth transforms through several phases of development.   They all begin as tiny, almost invisible eggs. An adult moth can lay up to 400 eggs in 2 weeks. 

Further, any food substance not sealed in a metal can, or thick plastic container could be fair game for egg-laying and larval infestation.

Depending on the temperature and time of year, moths can take three weeks to 135 days to fully mature.  Food damage occurs during the somewhat lengthy larval phase of development. The larvae will crawl to protected or hidden areas to spin their final cocoons.  

Once the adult moth emerges from the cocoon, or “pupa,” it lives for about five to seven days.  Just long enough to find a mate and make more moth eggs. You can easily distinguish the adult moth by its pale body and “grainy-brown” wing patches.  Adult moths are about a half-inch long and have a wingspan of ¾ inches.

Adult moths are usually visible at night as they may be attracted to the lights in your home. Be on the lookout for “nocturnal” activity from the adult moths.

Are There Any Other Telltale Moth Signs?

Unfortunately, yes. If you’ve noticed the adult moths flying around your cupboards or pantry, you should also be on the lookout for the following:

  • A fine, weblike substance on your dry ingredients like flour, dry pet food, cereals, pasta, candy, or other dry food products you’ve stored away.
  • The husks or cocoons of hatched pupa in places like ceiling corners or wall corners. Moth larvae will crawl to more protected spaces to spin their cocoons.
  • Holes in thin packaging materials like paper or plastic or webbing.

You’ve Identified The Moths, Now What Do You Do About Them?

If you’ve discovered Indian meal moths in your home, there are a few things you can do right away. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Try to discover the food source where the moths originated.  If you find it, wrap it in plastic and throw away immediately, preferably outside your home in your external trash can.
  2. Throw away grain or other dry food sources, especially those stored in paper packaging or boxes, as moths will lay their eggs in the cracks of such packaging.
  3. Consider clearing out all the dry food in your home and starting from scratch–after a thorough cleaning.
  4. Discard all shelf liners
  5. Wash down shelving with a soapy water mixture or light bleach blend, and finish with a spritz of peppermint oil mixed in water to prevent the moths from returning.
  6. Clean out and sanitize your trash bins, making sure to pay extra attention to cracks and crevices that could all be great places for moths to lay eggs.
  7. Place all “new” grains or nuts in a thick, sealable bag or container in the freezer whenever possible.
  8. Use sturdier storage that seals tightly to store pasta and other dry goods in the cupboard or pantry.
  9. Purchase smaller quantities of grains and other storable foods so they are used quickly and not sitting around attracting pests.
  10. Be patient and persistent. It can take several months to fully eradicate a severe moth infestation.

Indian meal moth pest, Plodia interpunctella on white wall

Environmental Pest Management, Your Expert in Pantry Purification

If, after all your meticulous cleaning efforts, you still have moths, give us a call. We’ll “unleash the hounds” on those persistent Indian meal moths, so they stay gone for good. 

It’s important for homeowners to steer clear of chemical sprays when trouble-shooting these kinds of pests. The last thing you want is to infect your food or food surfaces with harmful chemicals while trying to get rid of bugs.  

At Environmental Pest Management, we take the safety of your family and your food supply very seriously. We use only the most food and people-friendly products available to handle these unique and stubborn pests.

We create and utilize our trap and spray protocols with the best outcomes for you, your family, and your pets while eliminating the “yuck” factor of moths in your home. 

We’ll also be able to assess your space for potential egg-laying opportunities you may have overlooked.  We’ll help you create a thorough cleaning strategy to cut off the moths at the source and keep them out.

At Environmental Pest Management, our goal is to provide you with a pest-free, care-free home. You can relax and feel comfortable knowing we’ve got your back with any unwelcome critters that may make their way inside. Call us today for an estimate, and let’s eliminate the “ewww” of bugs in your food and food spaces. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *