Pantry cleanup is something you have to do from time to time, especially if you see a number of moths flying around your kitchen and there are stocks of food in the pantry that you haven’t touched in awhile. Usually, the appearance of these moths flying about is already the first indication that there is a breeding population hidden somewhere in the depths of your pantry; hiding behind your stored food. That old box of Cheerios and that leftover flour you have been meaning to use for a cake recipe, needs to be thrown away immediately if it has been eaten by this pantry pest.
The Indian meal moth is considered as one of the most common stored-food pest among kitchens and grocery stores. And because this moth traces its origins from a tropical country, it thrives well under warm and humid conditions—such as the one found in your pantry. This is why your pantry or larder is the most likely location for its nest. In fact, the Indian meal moth is also known as the pantry moth, because it has a strong appetite for most of the essentials in your dry goods pantry.
What are Indian Meal Moths?
The Indian meal moth is considered as one of the most common pests found in the kitchen for most households in the United States. It mostly devours stored grains and processed food products. It is partial to starchy food such as bread, rice, couscous, pasta, flour, and bran. Breakfast food items are also in danger from this moth, such as oatmeal, pancake mixes, and cereals.
Other items most likely to be infested are your stored supplies of chocolate, cocoa beans, coffee, cookies, crackers, cheese, powdered milk, dried meats, dried soup mixes, dried fruits and nuts, and hot spices such as red pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Your pet’s food supplies aren’t spared as well, as this kind of moth likes to feast on dry pet food and bird seeds. Aside from these stored food products, the Indian meal moth will also feed on dried flower arrangements and even rat bait.
One way to distinguish the Indian meal moth from the others is its flight movement. An adult Indian meal moth flies in a zigzag, roundabout manner instead of a direct line of flight. They fly during night time and would be attracted to sources of light. The presence of tiny white worms, sticky webbing, and fecal droppings on your grains are other signs as well of an infestation.
Potential Damages They Cause
Since processed food items can remain unused for an extended period of time, the chances of the infestation becoming widespread are high because the food is simply stored and the pantry is not being checked or cleaned all too frequently. The moth is easily overlooked because it is quite small compared to other moths of its kind. Its eggs and newly-hatched larvae are also very difficult to find because they are tiny. This makes it all the more difficult to confirm if an Indian meal moth has indeed taken over the pantry.
Infestation can pose a grave threat and great damage to your food supplies and will make them unfit to be consumed. Grocery stores and supermarkets selling milled products and dry grains can also lose a lot of money during an Indian meal moth infestation as these pests reduces the dry weight of these products. If the products have been contaminated with droppings from the moths, then these cannot be sold to the public.
You need to carefully examine each pantry staple you buy. Check on each bag for any holes or tears because these pesky moths can chew their way through sealed bags. Also check the expiry date to determine the freshness of the product you are purchasing. Food items that you seldom use should be purchased in small batches, and try to avoid storing them for long periods of time. Proper and regular cleanup of your cupboards and storage bins should be observed as well.
The presence of Indian meal moths does not reflect on the quality of the housekeeper or the cleanliness of the homeowner. Most of the times, these pantry pests manage to invade a home through packaged food that has already been infested. And although food manufacturers and suppliers make sure that the food being sold is pest-free, they do not always succeed in this manner.
If the Indian meal moth infestation is severe and widespread in your kitchen, and no other pest treatment methods seem to be working, then it is time to call in and consult with a pest control expert such as Fischer Environmental.
Filed in: Moths