Indian Meal Moth
Summary: Indian meal moth can develop in unopened boxes of pantry products that are past their expiration dates.
We are all guilty of buying food product, putting it up on a shelf and forgetting about it. I mean, how often do you have the urge to eat couscous? Seemed like a good idea when you bought it, but you just never got around to preparing it. So, when someone suggests having something “middle-Eastern” for dinner, you remember and dig way in the back of the top shelf. At last, you find it, but when you open it, surprise, surprise. The couscous has company.
How did this happen to you? The kitchen is spotless and the couscous was never opened. The answer is that the Indian meal moth is common around the world and is well known for getting into stored grain products. You have just learned that Indian meal moths can get into sealed plastic bags or cardboard boxes by chewing through them.
The larvae of Indian meal moths eat cereals, whole grains, dried fruit, powdered milk, flour, pastas, seeds, spices and other pantry items. They spin silk as they eat and leave behind webbing in the grain. They are sometimes referred to as pantry moths or flour moths.
The adult moths are small with reddish brown wingtips. The moths are nocturnal and attracted to light, so sometimes you see them at night hovering close to your TV screen, but away from their food source. This can be confusing to someone who has not identified the moth because you wonder where they came from and how they got inside.
Usually, Indian meal moths get indoors via a packaged good like pasta or cereal. Dried dog food and bird seed are common culprits, as well. In spite of their efforts, it is nearly impossible for manufacturers to get rid of all Indian meal moth larvae in their product because new larvae are small enough to pass through the smallest of many mesh screens used for filtering. We suggest you inspect grain products carefully when you open them, especially if they are in large containers or they have gone past their expiration date.
To get rid of Indian meal moths you need to get rid of their food source. Once you find one moth you'll need to examine all the packages in your pantry containing any kind of grain, especially packages that have been there for a while. Throw away any food item that has silk threads on it or the white worms. You could also freeze the food items for several days or heat it in the oven for an hour or so and this will kill the eggs and larvae. This can be done if you want to save bird feed or seeds, but it isn't appetizing for something you plan to eat yourself.
After throwing out the contaminated food, vacuum the shelves carefully and wash them with soap and water. This will sanitize the storage place and help prevent a reoccurrence. Separate and store large packages of grains or seeds
apart from other pantry items.
You can treat the cracks and crevices of storage shelves with a product like Tri Die Aerosol, but you must be sure the pesticide has dried before putting any product back on the shelf. Read the warning label on any pesticide.
For a totally non-pesticide solution consider using Indian meal moth traps containing a pheromone that attracts the moth. It's a good tool to use to confirm it the moths are still present.
Indian meal moths can be quite a nuisance, but are harmless. They don't bite, sting or poison your food. For a large infestation you might have to call a pest control operator, but it is likely a problem you can save some money on by solving yourself. Just find the source of the infestation, remove it, and sanitize the area. Also, don't store dried foods in damp places for long periods. Follow these simple rules and you might avoid the YUCK factor of opening a box of cereal and finding that something has beaten you to the breakfast table.
28 Mar 2009, 21:44
29 May 2009, 09:03
20 Aug 2009, 16:55
I noticed them around my pantry (dried goods like pasta, flour, granola bars, chips) before a vacation and should've done something about it; since arriving back the other day, they're all over the cereals, etc., and now i'm noticing larva crawling up the walls near the pantry.
Took everything out, threw away 90-something percent of it, washed/wiped down a few cans to save.
I sprayed disinfectant over the cupboard, washed with soap/water, then sprayed disinfectant again.
This is a great site/service! Like anything else in modern life, you have a problem and wanna go on the 'net and see if you're alone in this/what can be done about it.
I think I have the problem beat, but only time will tell.
21 Dec 2009, 15:54
11 Sep 2010, 22:10
12 Sep 2010, 07:54
20 Jan 2011, 19:51
25 Feb 2011, 11:00
in bird seed. Just when I think I got rid of them I find them in another part oof the house. we have tried everything. just can seem to get rid of tthem. I even bought a new bird cage, and moved my birds to a diff room. I threw out 2 vacuums because bugs where in the vacuum cleaners. what else can I do to get rid of these annoying moths.???
25 Feb 2011, 11:15
I suggest buying Indian meal moth pheromone traps and placing six traps in locations where you find individual moths. The more moths caught in a single trap indicate that you are getting closer to the source. Then, it's a matter of searching for the source. Google "Indian Meal Moth Traps" to find them.
03 Jun 2011, 08:29
19 Sep 2011, 05:15
19 Sep 2011, 10:50
30 Sep 2011, 20:09
03 Oct 2011, 19:03
14 Oct 2011, 23:36
15 Oct 2011, 09:08
21 Oct 2011, 23:43
23 Oct 2011, 10:29
28 Oct 2011, 19:29
My lorikeet passed away, and a year later I got a Jardine's Parrot.
I kept a bag of peanuts in my bedroom for her treats, she loves them.
Then I got a few moths- probably unrelated.
It's no longer a coincidence BI
We took Jenny(bird) to the birdsitter, then bombed my room and cleaned the house, cleaned my room, got rid of the nuts.
2.8 years later, I still have them.
Is there a way that I can get rid of these without harming my birds? I've since acquired 3 cockatiels, so I can't hurt them, either X3
30 Oct 2011, 07:53
10 Jun 2012, 12:56
10 Jun 2012, 16:25
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08 Feb 2013, 20:53
07 Jun 2013, 13:45
07 Jun 2013, 13:54
09 Sep 2013, 23:07
Number 1) that natural isht doesn't work, you'll need pesticides
Number 2) stop storing anything in your cabinets that isn't canned, I actually took everything out, because I didn't want them to have anywhere to hide
Number 3) no crumbs,anywhere ever, I mean not one, after you cleaned the cabinets, washed then down, vacuum every nook and cranny in the kitchen
Number 4) pheromone traps, and actually keep a count of how many you catch before you change them, to know if you are denting their population, I caught over 1000 in the first couple of months, I had 7 traps spread through out the kitchen and living room where I saw them flying
Number 5) kill every adult you see, squish, spray, swat whatever, females fly generally after laying their eggs but it will make you feel better... also bomb very 2 weeks, I'm talking super soak the area
Number 6) by the industrial Chem, Gentrol, that they use disrupt the growth cycle of insects, it's a far in kitchens and comes in pods or aerosol, I used both.
7) Did I mention all that homeopathic isht doesn't work and it took insecticides and growth inhibitors to finally lick this problem.
Good luck, once you find the food sources the battle can actually begin, it will be long but if you are diligent, and really on top of it, you will win!!!