Are you interested in knowing how to get rid of Indian meal moths? Here are 8 ways to exterminate these pests completely.
One of the common problems faced by the natural food industry has to do with the Indian meal moth.
However, these moths aren’t restricted to the food industry alone but are also common in home pantries and kitchens.
Almost every homeowner has been faced with multiple infestation cases or currently do. The good news is there are reliable ways to deal with Indian meal moth presence.
What Do Indian Meal Moths Look Like?
You may have an existing infestation without knowing what the problem is. These pests are most of the time mistaken or confused with grain moths.
First off, adult Indian meal moths can be identified by their wings. These wings consist of a blend of 2 colors; rust-bronze and pale tan colors.
The reproductive life of Indian meal moths starts with the adults laying eggs. Now, these eggs can’t be seen with the naked eye. So, you shouldn’t expect to see these except under a strong magnifying glass or a microscope.
Eggs hatch into larvae and can be identified by their pink-green hues. What’s more? Indian meal moth larvae need to develop. This requires food, which is why this stage is considered the most destructive.
This is so because eggs are laid in exposed food and are hatched into larvae. Such food provides the sustenance larvae that need to fully develop into pupae and then into full adults.
The description above provides the basis for searching them out. This isn’t a hard thing to do if you know what to look out for and where you need to pay attention to.
First, the larvae stage (which is the most damaging stage) starts around protected areas. These include cracks and crevices. Your kitchen and pantry provide an abundance of these hiding spots.
Nevertheless, you should know that these larvae won’t always stay in hiding. On close examination, you should find them suspended or hanging by their silk threads.
When these moths infest your foodstuff, you should find web-like structures within flour and grain foods.
Milk is also one of the flour products you’d find Indian meal moths. However, you won’t find larvae within such foods, only their microscopic eggs. Nevertheless, finding web-like structures in food is an indication of their presence.
Indian meal moths are nocturnal. Hence, you’d find them flying in a zigzag pattern around lights. The presence of larvae or eggs makes food clumpy.
Still, Having Problems Identifying Indian Meal Moths?
Not everyone will be lucky enough to identify the presence of these moths. This increases the likelihood of a severe infestation since these pests are unnoticed. If you suspect moth presence but can’t seem to identify one, you may want to consider using a Ziploc bag.
Fetch a sample of foods you suspect are infested and pour into the bag. Seal securely and leave for some time ( a few weeks or months). If your suspicions are true, you should see an increased moth larvae presence and activity.
How to Get Rid of Indian Meal Moths
Now that you know how these moths look like and where to find them, we’ll focus on showing you how to get rid of them.
There are multiple ways to control Indian meal moths, and we will include as many as possible here.
Larvae thrive when hiding spots are abundant. These include cracks and crevices as well as scattered and unwanted luggage. You can start by arranging your kitchen and pantry areas in addition to other parts of your home.
Get rid of stuff you don’t need. This clears up space and opens up tight spaces, thereby making it unsuitable for moths to thrive.
Another thing you need to do is to find and seal all cracks and crevices. You can do this by caulking or adopting similar alternatives.
De-cluttering your kitchen and pantry not only makes it unsuitable for Indian meal moths, but also to other pest types.
Dispose of Contaminated Food
One of the major reasons why Indian meal moth activity worsens is due to a lack of taking precautionary measures. By precautionary measures, we simply mean removing or isolating contaminated food. Every day you delay or postpone disposing of such food compounds the problem.
Hence, you may want to reconsider and dispose of contaminated food as fast as you can.
How do you know if flour or grains have been infested? By inspecting the package. Indian meal moths burrow holes through food packaging. Close examination of contaminated food should reveal tiny holes in the bag.
For inspection to be more effective, try looking out for any exposed food. Chances are that these moths would have helped themselves.
Treat Infested Food
The period Indian meal moths spend on food will affect its quality. Although the easiest way is to dispose of such foods, you can still find a way to get rid of them through heating or freezing.
Exposing moths to unbearable and unfavorable temperatures kills them. So, you may want to consider using this Indian meal moth treatment.
This has to do with the application of heat on food. The heat should be sufficient enough to kill moths. Your method of heat application will determine how long it should last. When using a microwave, simply spread contaminated food evenly and microwave for 5 minutes.
This should be enough to kill off Indian meal moth larvae and eggs.
Another option is to use your oven for heating. The same process of evenly spreading food should be applied. A maximum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit should be applied for an hour. The food content should be stirred to allow for even distribution of heat.
Doing this is sufficient to kill off moth larvae and eggs.
Sieve out dead moths and use them as you wish. You may choose to prepare food with it or feed your livestock. If the latter is what you seek to achieve, then there will be no need whatsoever to treat as livestock won’t be affected by ingesting Indian meal moths.
This is the opposite of heating but achieves the same results. When food is packed into a bag and placed in a freezer, its temperature drops drastically. This is beyond the tolerable limit for Indian meal moths. As a result, they die off.
Food should be allowed to freeze for as long as 3 days. Flour should be sieved to remove larvae after removing them from the freezer.
Clean Food Containers
The containers you use to store food can easily help spread moths, especially if not properly cleaned. After the Indian meal moth presence has been established, it becomes necessary to take preventive measures. Hot soapy water is a great way to clean food containers. Using this will easily kill these pests.
Allow these to dry in the sun before filling them up with new supplies. This should come after you’ve treated your pantry and kitchen areas. This way, you’d be preventing a re-infestation and would have succeeded in keeping Indian meal moths at bay.
Don’t Mix New and Old Foodstuff
Here, we are assuming that an Indian meal moth infestation has been established. At this point, it’s common sense that you don’t mix up the old and new foodstuff. The old stock should be gotten rid of and the containers cleaned before new foodstuff is emptied into such containers.
Doing otherwise will only complicate the problem and make it worse. This precautionary measure may seem ineffective but it’s not.
It is a low cost, yet highly effective way to get rid of Indian meal moths.
Clean up your Shelves and Pantry Regularly
We’ve earlier made mention of cleaning your kitchen and pantry. However, what we didn’t say is that it should be regular. Why? Because moths never get tired or worn out so long as the food is available. This is what attracts them and food particles are bound to be found whenever you use or fetch from containers.
It doesn’t matter how little such food particles are. It’s always inviting to moths. However, by cleaning regularly, you are reducing or even eliminating the favorable conditions that attract moths.
Thus, making your home increasingly unfavorable. Moths won’t hang around for long when this is done.
Be Careful with What you Buy
Sometimes, food stays for too long on shelves without being purchased. These create ideal conditions for Indian meal moths to thrive. A buyer may unknowingly pick them home. Hence, marking the beginning of a moth infestation. However, this can be prevented when you examine the packaging.
If you find tiny holes in such packaging, we recommend you avoid picking them at all. You can even go the extra mile by finding another store to buy from. Go for those stores whose stock is frequently replaced.
Use Moth Traps
Indian meal moth traps have been in used for a long time with great results. These traps are made from cardboard material. Inside this trap are glue strips with pheromones which triggers the sex hormones of male moths.
The purpose is to disrupt mating when males are killed once they get in.
Getting rid of Indian meal moths is quite easy when you know what to do. We have provided a range of measures you can implement with little stress. These also include preventive strategies that cost next to nothing to implement.