Meal moths, also known as indian mealmoths, grain moths or pantry moths, can be found in a variety of areas where food is stored. Besides your home kitchen, these pests can live in grocery stores and restaurants. On farms, they can infest grain elevators, livestock feed and other food storage areas.
Using a pantry moth trap such as the Safer® Brand The Pantry Pest® trap breaks the breeding cycle, and can rid your pantry of these harmful pests!
So... What's a Meal Moth?
Meal moths are only a sign of insect trouble in your home or business. The real problem with meal moths comes from their larvae – small, off-white caterpillars that infest food. These hairless larvae can cause considerable damage to food supplies stored in kitchens, grocery stores, food mills, restaurants and food processing facilities.
The adult meal moth is about 3/8 inch in length and has a brownish-red body with wings tipped in bronze. The eggs are also an off-white color.
Do I Have Meal Moths? Signs of a Pantry Moth Infestation
The first, and most unsettling symptom of meal moths is when you pour out some cereal or bite into a cracker and see a little worm. These small, larval moths infest your food as they gather the needed energy to transform into their adult forms.
The signs of a meal moth infestation are:
- Small worms/caterpillars in above-mentioned food sources
- Unexplained webbing in above-mentioned food sources
- Webbing in cabinets and on packaging
- Moths fluttering throughout the pantry, while also flying into other rooms
Meal moth food sources include bird seed, bread, cereal, chocolate, cookies, cracked corn, crackers, dried beans, dried fruits, dry pet food, flour, pasta, nuts, rice and spices.
Reproduction Patterns of Meal Moths
The life cycle of the meal moth can vary greatly in length, as temperature and environmental conditions can affect their development. As a result, they can live just a few weeks up to 3/4 of a year … or more. Why so extreme? It’s a survival feature. These insects can simply wait out unforgiving conditions by going into diapause (much like hibernation) and then revive to begin feeding again
Adult female moths will deposit up to 300 eggs in or near food products so that when the eggs hatch, the emerging larvae will have food. Each larvae will construct a shelter-tunnel with its silk and droppings.
The larva feeds for up to 6 weeks on food products. Once the larva gathers enough energy, it will seek out a secluded location to pupate, often in a crack or along the edge of a ceiling or cupboard. It constructs a cocoon, pupates, and ultimately emerges as an adult moth that is ready to mate. The adult moth usually dies about a week later, but has fulfilled its life’s mission and the indian mealmoth life cycle continues.
If conditions are ideal, there can be up to 5 generations of pantry moths in a year.
How Do Meal Moths Get in My Home?
Meal moths could enter a home by flying through an open window, open door or hole in a screen, but that’s probably the least likely way for an infestation to begin. Instead, the most common method of entry for a meal moth is by hitching a ride as an egg or larva in packaged foods, groceries, bird seed or pet food.
After hatching, the larvae feast on grain products, seeds, dried fruits, animals foods and many other consumables. Meal Moths can be extremely difficult to get rid of, so prepare for battle. Using a pantry moth trap such as the Safer® Brand The Pantry Pest® trap is your first line of defense. It can keep your pantry and food supply free from moths and provide the moth control you are seeking.
Do Meal Moths Have a Purpose?
It seems that every creature has a purpose, and meal moths do, too. Moths of every kind are a food source for many other animals. Bats, birds and rodents may rely on the moths and the moth larvae as a food source.
Of course, their benefit as a natural food source for wildlife is far outweighed by the problems their pest activity generates for humans and livestock. Worldwide, meal moths render untold amounts of food inedible each year.
Meal Moth Controls
There are a variety of ways to stop a pantry moth infestation. It’s true that they can be hard to completely eliminate, but with great care and close monitoring, they can be eradicated from your home or business.
What is the Best Way to Control Meal Moths?
Moth traps, such as the Safer® Brand The Pantry Pest trap, can help in destroying meal moths. These traps capture male pantry moths, an effort that cuts back on the breeding population.
What about spraying the moths? Unfortunately, synthetic insecticide sprays and treatments are not recommended. This is because these insecticides could come in contact with food in your pantry, serving dishes, utensils or pet bowls. This could result in unintended exposure to these synthetic chemicals
There is a kill-on-contact option, however: OMRI Listed® Safer® Brand Flying Insect Killer. This moth-killing option can be used in conjunction with a pantry moth trap and is compliant for use in organic gardening. This aerosol uses pyrethrins and potassium salts of fatty acids to paralyze and dehydrate insects.
How Do Meal Moth Traps Work?
Safer® Brand The Pantry Pest® traps can be used to alert you to moth problems and to monitor the level of infestation. Male meal moths are attracted to the included pheromone tablet and enter the pantry moth trap where they become stuck on the trap’s adhesive surface and cannot escape.
The Safer® Brand The Pantry Pest® should be placed near the ceiling or area where the meal moths fly. Carefully read and follow all instructions completely for best results.
Other Meal Moth Control Methods
If you find yourself dealing with a pantry moth infestation, begin treatment and cleaning immediately. Follow these steps to destroy pantry moths:
- Seal and throw out all contaminated food
- Place Pantry Pest Traps to catch moths
- Vacuum all cabinet surfaces near the infestation, including cabinet and counter tops
- Spray any live moths you see with Flying Insect Killer Spray
- Do a thorough crack-and-crevice cleaning of cabinets and containers to eliminate eggs and cocoons
- Seal all un-infested food in plastic containers, but be sure to carefully inspect any food you keep
- Place the containers in the freezer for a week
- When you purchase new food, be sure to seal it to prevent a re-infestation
When is the Best Time to Begin Meal Moth Control?
At the first sign of an infestation, place a Safer® Brand The Pantry Pest® in the home to monitor the level of infestation. Remember for every one male meal moth caught in the trap, seven others have avoided it. Use it as a continuing indicator for meal moth activity and infestation levels.
With the trap in place, continue with other eradication efforts listed above, paying particular attention to removing available food sources
Safer® Brand leads the alternative lawn and garden products industry, offering many solutions that are compliant with organic gardening standards. Safer® Brand recognizes this growing demand by consumers and offers a wide variety of products for lawns, gardens, landscapes, flowers, houseplants, insects and more!