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Indian Meal Moth

Description, Elimination

Indian Meal Moth Picture, flour grain mothsClick on image to enlarge.

Description, Biology

Pest Control for grain moths, flour moths

Indian meal moths are a common pest of stored products found in homes, food processing plants, grain storage and processing facilities. The larvae prefer to feed on coarsely ground flour and meal but commonly feed on whole grains, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, beans, crackers, biscuits, dry dog food, bird seed, and red peppers.

The larvae of this pantry pest produce a silk webbing over the surface of the materials upon which they are feeding. The webbing contains large amounts of their frass. The damage caused by this pest's feeding is compounded by the presence of this repulsive material. The larvae move into cracks and crevices in the food material, feeding within or near this silken mat. The mature larvae often move away from infested materials to pupate in cracks or crevices. This behavior pattern often allows them to be discovered by homeowners.
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Description

This pest of stored products is about 3/8 inch long at rest, wing spread is about 5/8 inch.  When at rest the wings are folded together along the line of the body. The front half of the forewings is a grayish-white color, and the lower half is a rusty red-brown color.

The adult moths usually fly at night and lay eggs on food such as grain, dried food, and especially pet food.  The life cycle and habits of this pantry pest is similar to other moths infesting stored products. Eggs are laid on or near the food. A female moth may deposit from 40 to 350 eggs. After hatching, the small caterpillars begin spinning silken threads in the infested food material. They feed for about two weeks before becoming full grown. They then crawl up to the surface of the food material or often up walls and pupate within a cocoon. The adult emerges in about 30 days. The entire cycle requires about six weeks and there are from 4-6 generations per year.
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Moth Elimination

The three-step Integrated Pest Management procedure for controlling Indian Meal Moths, Mediterranean Flour Moths:   

For light infestations, follow steps 1 and 3; for heavy or persistent infestations, follow all 3 steps.

  1. If you have flour or grain moths: Empty all cabinets, drawers and pantries where there is evidence of insects.  Try to identify which foodstuff is infested. Throw away any container suspected of being a source.  If you are unsure and want to save something which may be infested, place it in Tupperware or zip lock bags.  Inspect it a week or two later to see if there is activity or not.  You can also freeze food (in a baggy) for 5-10 days to kill any possible pests.  Be careful to inspect cans as these pests love to nest on the bottom around the can’s rim.  The lids of jars or bottles also provide excellent nest sites.

  2. Now treat with a professional aerosol that has a crack and crevice tip.  We suggest using CB-Invader.  Treat all cracks and crevices using the plastic infection tip. You must make sure to get all sides, tops, corners and backs of doors around their hinges.  This treatment will kill the adult stages but some eggs and pupae will survive.  For persistent infestations (and also for good, odorless indoor pest control of other bugs) follow up your crack and crevice work with Suspend SC.  This is a broad spectrum pest control product which kills ants, roaches, silverfish and numerous pantry pests in homes and restaurants.  Suspend is good for most general household pests, including ticks, fleas, spiders.

  3. If you have INDIAN MEAL MOTHS, MEDITERRANEAN MOTHS or other flour moths/ grain moths.: Set up Moth Traps in areas where moths are flying. These traps are helpful because they will catch the adult stages of any grain moth as they hatch from their pupae cocoons. The trap has a strong sex pheromone which these pantry moths cannot resist. They will fly to the trap and get stuck on the glue inside. Once trapped, they cannot mate and reproduce. Place Moth Traps in areas where moths are flying. These traps are helpful because they will catch the adult stages of any moth as they hatch from their pupae cocoons. The trap has a strong sex pheromone which these pantry moths cannot resist. They will fly to the trap and get stuck on the glue inside. Once trapped, they cannot mate and reproduce. 
    Using too many pheromone traps will not work!  Moths need to "zero in" on the pheromones; if too many traps are used, the entire area will be saturated and the moths will fly around in circles.  Moths that cannot locate the trap cannot be captured.

  4. There are situations that dictate a need for moth prevention or monitoring.  In homes or businesses where grains are in constant use, a single moth trap should be placed for monitoring purposes.  Change out this trap every 3 months or if trap becomes covered with insects.  Finding a moth captured on the trap every day or so is an indication of a grain being introduced that is contaminated with a moth infestation.  pantry pests, moth trap

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pantry pests   moth traps, moth elimination