Indian meal moths, also called pantry moths or grain moths, can cause a lot of problems for homeowners. Here are four things you need to know about these pests.
What do Indian meal moths look like?
Indian meal moths have multiple life stages. When they hatch out of their eggs, the larvae are usually cream-colored, but they can sometimes have a yellowish or pinkish tinge. You may see these caterpillar-like larvae crawling around your house, often on the walls, and looking for a place to make a cocoon.
During their pupal (cocooning) stage, the larvae spin loose, silky cocoons. You may see these cocoons in corners or where your wall and ceiling meet. Adult moths will emerge from these cocoons. The adults are fairly small with a wingspan of about half an inch. Their wings are mostly grey with a darker brown area near the rear of the wings.
Where can you find them?
Indian meal moths are native to South America, but they are now found throughout the world. They are active year-round indoors, so you can encounter them at any time. The adults can be found in kitchen cupboards feasting on your flour, oatmeal, chocolate, and other foodstuffs. You may also find larvae in your food products as the eggs are laid close to food.
In warm weather, you may also encounter them outside. You may see them gnawing on your fruit trees, berry bushes, or vegetable garden.
What problems can they cause?
Indian meal moths will ruin any food products that they get into. The larvae produce silk threads as they move, so your foods will be filled with these threads; you may also find empty cocoons in your food. Any food that is contaminated with Indian meal moths needs to be thrown out, so an infestation can cause a lot of distress and financial damage.
How can you get rid of them?
The first step is to get rid of any contaminated food; if food packages are damaged, assume that the food inside is contaminated, even if you don't see any moths or larvae. Store dry foods in containers with tight-fitting lids, not the original cardboard or paper packaging. This removes the moths' food source.
The next step is to get moth traps. These traps are cardboard with a layer of glue, and when the moths land on the cardboard, they will be trapped and killed. Moth traps are pesticide-free which is important because you don't want to use potentially dangerous chemicals near your food.
Indian meal moths can ruin your food, so if you see them in your house, take action right away (by investing in things like pest control by Peninsula Pest Control).