Why Are Indian Meal Moths Such A Problem In Spring Homes?
What Do Pantry Moths In Spring Look Like?
Pantry moths, also known as Indian meal moths, are common pests here in Texas. They affect homes, grocery stores, restaurants, food industry facilities, and all kinds of businesses by destroying stored food products throughout your property. That’s where they get their name from, pantry pests.
Their destructive diet of grains and cornmeal provides them with a long list of nicknames. Not only are they referred to as pantry pests/moths and Indian meal moths, but they’re also called flour moths, grain moths, or weevil moths. Whatever you decide to call them, one thing remains true regardless of their name - they are known as the most common and destructive stored food pest in the United States.
If you’re wondering what pantry moths look like here in Spring, the answer isn’t so simple. Aside from the variations among particular species, there’s the consideration that they have four stages to their lifecycle. To give you a full understanding of pantry pests, what they look like, and how they operate, let’s review each cycle separately. The first stage of an Indian meal moth's lifecycle is the egg.
The female will lay her eggs directly on or inside of packaged food.
Moths either lay eggs in clusters or single eggs at a time.
The eggs are about half a millimeter in size and are a grayish-white color.
They take about one to two weeks to hatch (less in warmer temperatures).
After this, the moth enters the second stage of its lifecycle: the larval stage. Within hours of the egg hatching, larvae begin feeding. Whatever food they’re in when they hatch is what they feed on, contaminating food sources throughout your pantry.
The larval stage is where most of the damage is done. This is the part where they feed on household products like dried fruits, grains, seeds, granola, crackers, nuts, chocolate, candies, birdseed, dry pet food, flour, powdered milk, dried peppers, and chocolate. Here are some ways to identify the larvae:
Fully grown Indian meal moth larvae grow to about 1/2 of an inch.
Their bodies can vary in color: off-white, brown, greenish, or pinkish in color.
Their head and thorax are a yellowish-brown color.
They’re characterized by their brown heads and dirty-looking, off-white bodies.
As they feed, they spin silken threads around them. They web together particles of food, fecal droppings, discarded skin, and eggshells (which will help them create the protective casing around their bodies). The larvae continue to feed for around two weeks until they are fully grown and ready to pupate. Larvae oftentimes climb to other shelves and pantries before making their cocoons. That brings us to the third stage of the lifecycle: the pupae stage.
Pupae are what you call the larvae once they’ve spun a cocoon around themselves. These protective sacs allow the larvae to develop into a full adult moth. Pupae are usually located a considerable distance away from the site of infestation. Here are some ways to identify them:
They measure around ¼ of an inch.
They’re usually a pale, brown color.
They spin their cocoons in unexpected cracks, crevices, pantry walls, and even ceilings.
The pupae stage can last up to 30 days before adulthood.
The fourth stage of their life cycle is the adult stage. This is when they finally emerge from their cocoons so they can start the entire reproductive cycle all over again. To identify adult Indian meal moths, consider the following characteristics:
Adult Indian meal moths have an elongated body.
They measure around 0.37 inches and can grow to be anywhere from 1/2 - 5/8th of an inch in length.
Indian meal moths do have wings and can fly.
Their fluttering, zig-zag flight pattern characterizes them
The color pattern found on their wings makes this species fairly easy to identify.
The middle of the wing has a dark band of color.
The rear half of the wing is reddish-brown or bronze in color.
The front half of the wing is a more yellowish-gray color.
About three days after the adult emerges, they begin laying eggs and mating, and then the whole lifecycle begins all over again with a new set of eggs. A single female adult can lay around 300-500 eggs over a period of 18 days. The entire life span from egg to egg can take anywhere from 25-135 days, completing a full cycle of development in about four to eight weeks.
Depending on the number of reproductive moths traveling around, and how many eggs are laid in your pantry, you are exposed to large-scale infestation. Indian meal moths are relentless pests that are responsible for most of the insect problems in the food industry. They can become a huge problem inside food processing and storage facilities. If you’re wondering how Indian meal moths get inside your property to begin with, read on.
How Do Indian Meal Moths Get Into Spring Homes?
Indian meal moths thrive in a wide range of climates. They are attracted to light, so they can often be found gathering around outdoor light fixtures on porches and decks at nighttime. They then often enter into homes and other buildings through gaps found around exterior windows and doors.
Not only can pantry pests enter through small cracks throughout your property, but they can also unknowingly enter your house via stored food products that are brought in from the outside. Indian meal moths often find their way inside of homes when products purchased from a grocery store are already infested with their larvae, and then they’re transported into your home.
Items that may not look infested can contain larvae or eggs, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye open for anything funny looking in your food. Imagine opening up a box of cereal only to discover larvae and eggs in the box. That’s not the kind of prize anyone is looking for.
Once inside your home, the adults will lay their eggs in various dried food sources found in your kitchen and pantry areas. After the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on dry goods. They’re mostly found in stored food products such as grains, flours, cereals, dried foods, nuts, rice, seeds, spices, certain candies, pet foods, and birdseed.
Common pantry foods are vulnerable to Indian meal moth infestation because the larvae can eat through cardboard and soft plastic. They feed on protected areas like the ears of a bag, the flaps of a box, and other small cracks and crevices near stored foods. The bottom line is that they cause severe damage to your food sources, consequentially exposing you to contamination. That’s why an Indian meal moth infestation inside any home should be taken seriously.
Effective Pantry Moth Prevention Tips For Spring Homes
Indian meal moths are not considered to be a dangerous pest; they do not bite or sting and aren’t known for causing serious health risks to people. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern. The contamination they can cause to your food puts your health at risk, not to mention the well-being of your family and loved ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to be proactive in your prevention efforts.
By getting ahead of the problem, you can take precautionary measures around your home so that the contamination of your family’s food sources can be minimized. Preventing Indian meal moth infestations can be a difficult job, but it’s always a good idea to try. There are some ways to discourage Indian meal moths from choosing your pantry.
These tips will reduce your exposure to pantry pests and hopefully keep them from returning:
Caulk any gaps found around all exterior doors.
Check products currently in your pantry for any pest activity; throw out expired items.
Do not purchase food items with signs of damage like torn packaging.
Eliminate excess moisture, fix leaky pipes, and take care of any clogged drains in the house.
Inspect dry goods for rips before purchasing them from the store.
Inspect the groceries, as pantry pests are often brought inside on infested bags and packaging.
Make sure that screens found in windows and doors are completely intact.
Place door sweeps underneath exterior doors, especially basement doors.
Properly store all kitchen and pantry food in sealed containers with secure, tightly-fitted lids.
Seal cracks, crevices, and holes around pipes to block off access points.
Store dry goods in glass or plastic containers with air-tight lids instead of in their original packaging.
Switch white light bulbs found in outdoor light fixtures with yellow outdoor lights or LED lights.
To avoid pantry pests, be mindful of all your food sources, such as grains, flour, dry cereals, spices, candies, chocolate, beans, corn, pasta, cornmeal, dried fruit, and cookies. To protect your home from infestation, it’s important to establish good sanitation and maintain proper food storage techniques. Keep all vulnerable items in airtight, insect-resistant containers. Keep your pantry clean. Avoid the accumulation of crumbs, and promptly clean up any spills, especially fruit juices and sugary beverages.
You should also regularly vacuum problem areas in the kitchen, like cracks and crevices, and empty the vacuum right away to prevent re-infestation. Regularly rotate dried food items and dispose of expired goods. Try not to purchase more food than you can realistically use in a two to four-month time frame because foods stored in bulk are more susceptible to infestation. Be sure to rotate dried food items on a regular basis and be diligent about disposing of expired goods.
The Trick To Total Pantry Pest Control In Spring
Eliminating an Indian meal moth infestation can be a challenge because adults fly and spread the infestation further. They can move great distances, traveling away from the initial food source to other rooms in the house. In order to identify and prevent the infestation from spreading, it’s a good idea to be able to detect signs of pantry pests activity. By addressing the issue in a timely manner, you can minimize the scope of the infestation.
Examine all the goods in your pantry to identify any signs of pantry pest activity. Carefully inspect everything for white worms with black heads, cast skins, and fecal droppings in or around the stored goods. Check for loosely sealed foods and any packaging with holes or sticky webbing. Always get rid of expired items and things that have been on the shelf for a very long time. All contaminated food should be disposed of immediately.
If you discover any signs that indicate an Indian meal moth infestation, it’s imperative to take action right away, so the problem doesn’t spread throughout the pantry and beyond. There is no denying that pantry pests are a year-round problem, and as they gather around stored food lay their eggs, they expose you to contamination. This is a real threat, and it should be addressed as such.
If you want to avoid pantry pest infestation, the only guaranteed way to achieve that is to get regular services from a team of qualified pest professionals. The most effective way to deal with the presence of Indian meal moths is to call the team at Modern Pest Control today. We offer complete pantry pest control and prevention services that guarantee lasting protection for your Spring home.
When you contact our company for your Indian meal moth problem, we’ll start with a thorough inspection to determine where the pantry pests are living on your property. Once we identify all problem areas, entry points, and conducive conditions, our team of professionals will design a layout customized for your property to control Indian meal moth populations.
We also provide follow-up services as needed and free re-treatment should pest activity recur between scheduled service visits. Contact Modern Pest Control today to learn more about pest control in Greater Houston. We’re eager to protect your pantry and your family from these hungry pests. Why should Indian meal moths get to eat all our food when they didn’t even contribute to the grocery fund? It’s a problem no homeowner should have to deal with, and with our help, you don’t have to. Schedule your inspection today.