Some sections of your home are more attractive to moths than others. Just as ants love to invade your kitchen and pantry, so do certain species of moths such as Indian meal moths or pantry moths. Indian meal moths and pantry moths love feasting on almost anything you’ve stored in your pantry that doesn’t come in a tin can – flour, grains, cereals, pasta, dried fruit, powdered milk, pet kibbles and a lot more. Then there are moth species that love dark and undisturbed areas like underneath beds and couches in lesser used guest rooms or spare rooms. They don’t like the light so you’ll also find them in wardrobes and drawers that you don’t use frequently or in lofts and attics where it’s dank and dark.
The life cycle of moths is relatively short, which is why having just a few in your home could result in serious damage to food items, fabric and clothing. Depending on the particular moth species, most moths live for about one month on the average.
Of all moth species, Indian meal moths and pantry moths are among the most common and troublesome when it comes to food-infesting pests in Oregon and across large regions in the US. Often mistaken for clothes or fabric moths, these tiny flying insects typically zigzag across your kitchen or fly toward light sources such as bulbs, lamps, computers and TV screens. However, the moths themselves are not the major problem– it’s their larvae that feed off and build webs on pantry food stuff that can be really annoying.
Adult Indian meal moths are about half of an inch long with a wingspan measuring around ½ – ¾ inch. The head and upper body are reddish-brown while the legs are grayish. The wings are also light gray in color with a little yellow near the head and tints of reddish brown along the tips. Full-grown larvae which feed on the food sources are about ⅔ inch long and are cream-colored with a bit of yellow green or pink tints. They have a dark brown head which is why Indian meal moth larvae are often referred to as “tiny white worms with dark heads”.
As previously mentioned, adult Indian meal moths do not feed on your food stuff and pantry items so they typically won’t live longer than one week. Their primary purpose as adults is to mate and for female moths to lay eggs on food clusters or along crevices in areas near these food sources. During her short lifespan, a single female moth can lay up to 300 eggs which will then hatch into larvae that will feed on the foodstuff where these eggs were laid.
While Indian meal moths and pantry moths may gain entry into your home by flying in from the outdoors during the warmer months, most infestations stem from contaminated food packages like flour, pancake mixes, cereals, grains, seeds or pet food that are brought in from an outside source. They’re usually transported as eggs which you can easily miss with the naked eye. Moth eggs are hard to notice unless you’re particularly on the hunt for them. They look like small white spots, pretty much like really tiny BB gun pellets or little balls of plastic.
When these moth eggs hatch, the larvae (often called caterpillars or cutworms) emerge and immediately begin eating their way through an assortment of food items in your pantry or cupboard. Moth larvae produce a silk-like webbing as they feed and this is what causes food particles to stick together. This webbing is among the most common signs that you have a pantry moth infestation in your home.
After some time, these caterpillars form cocoons and eventually transform into moths. Upon reaching the adult stage, they track down other moths to breed with and the cycle goes on and on. Moths can live out their entire cycle inside your home—that means they hatch, eat, grow and reproduce without you even knowing until you discover the damage they have caused.
Although Indian meal moths and pantry moths are not exactly harmful to humans and pets, they can contaminate food items which will eventually need to be discarded. This can be particularly expensive when you sum up the cost of all the damaged food stuff you have to throw away. Preventing a pantry pest infestation can really be as simple as inspecting food packages before popping them into your shopping cart and storing them properly in airtight containers upon reaching home.
Most people simply turn to commercially available pest repellent sprays to get rid of moths in their homes. Well, this isn’t exactly the best way as it is more important to tackle moth eggs and larvae that are eating up your stuff. So just like other common household pests, the best approach is to prevent moths from entering and breeding inside your home.
Moths love to fly around light sources, so be wary of those flying around your porch lights and gaining entry into your home as you open and close your doors and entryways. Better still, keep the lights off until you really need to turn them on. Having screens on your doors and windows also help ward off these home intruders.
If you’ve discovered an infestation in your pantry, it is vital that you dispose of contaminated food items immediately. Keep in mind that Indian meal moth and pantry moth larvae can get into sealed food items by chewing through thin boxes or plastic and foil packaging, burrowing deep down to continue feeding. For this reason, simply dumping these packages into your kitchen trash will not suffice. You need to take these out of your house straight to your outdoor garbage bin.
All life stages of Indian meal moths and pantry moths cannot tolerate extreme temperatures, so another way to effectively eliminate them is to heat contaminated food items in a microwave or conventional oven. In a similar manner, you can store grains, seeds and nuts in the freezer for a few days until you have sanitized your pantry or cupboard. Freezing temperatures will kill the eggs and larvae to prevent future infestations.
There are also non-toxic pheromone traps you can buy that will help prevent the development and reproduction of adult pantry moths. These are triangle-shaped boxes that come with a lure and sticky walls inside that will attract and trap adult moths to prevent them from breeding.
Lastly, you can also consider temporarily storing new grocery stuff in a different area far from your pantry until you’re completely sure you have addressed an infestation thoroughly. This will keep you from having to discard more food items if they get contaminated.
If you want the quickest and most effective way to exterminate moths and keep them away from your home for good, a moth pest control specialist like Ryan at ANT & GARDEN ORGANIC PEST CONTROL in Beaverton Oregon can do the job for you.
First, I will figure out how moths gained entry into your home. I will also inspect both your kitchen and pantry, as well as dark and undisturbed areas of your house to find any food source that may be inviting moths to breed and grow. Then, I will formulate the right organic pest control treatment plan to exterminate any existing moths including their eggs and larvae and ensure they won’t be coming back to invade your home again. My proprietary organic spray is safe to use around humans and pets so there’s no need to worry about the safety of your family.
Give me a call today at ANT & GARDEN ORGANIC PEST CONTROL in Beaverton so we can talk about your moth problem and schedule an onsite assessment so you can be on your way to a moth-free home for good!
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