Food is such an essential and important commodity, that anything that threatens it is certainly considered a threat. The Indian meal moth is one such threat. These pests prey upon dry food stuff—especially those of vegetable origin, like cereals, pastas, rice, bread, flour, a range of spices, nuts, and dried food. They’ve also been known to infest cocoa beans and chocolates, cookies, and even coffee substitutes. The end result of their damage is food that seems stuck or webbed together in a disgusting mesh.
They’re a particularly big threat to the commercial food segment but can also inhabit the kitchens and pantries of homes with their larvae and their young. Again, they mostly subsist on dry food stuff, so they tend to be a threat to long-term food stores more than anything else. They are also known to be able to gain entry into tight spots. They will chew through sealed bag to get at the food inside if they have to. Worst of all, they can lay their young in any part of the home beyond the kitchen and pantry.
Spotting the Indian meal moth
The Indian meal moth follows a life cycle of complete metamorphosis. That means that they progress from egg to larva to pupa and eventually to the adult stage. They’re not too large as moths go, often measuring a mere three-eighths of an inch long with a wingspan of five-eighths of an inch. In terms of appearance, their wings are grey terminating in a rusty bronze color on the rear half of their wings. It’s this wing pattern that will set them apart from harmless moths. Their caterpillar-like larvae can be seen on walls or near the ceiling as they search for a place to pupate.
When trying to figure out an infestation, it’s best to start searching while they are either in their larval or pupal stages—they’re still really harmless at this point—as they move far slower too than when they’re fully grown. Due to their propensity to travel around a lot, you shouldn’t restrict your search to just the kitchen or pantry. It’s best to really search through the whole house to be sure to get them all as they tend to spread fast and continuously. Should you find them on or around food that isn’t properly sealed, it is best to throw the food out altogether as it would be unhealthy to consume it.
Dealing with meal moths
At no stage in its growth and development is the meal moth tolerant to temperature. So if you find a means to heat or cool them, then they’ll die easily. Non-toxic traps are also available to kill them off but—in cases of major infestations—a single trap at a time might prove to be ineffectual
The best option would be to call a dependable and reliable exterminator. They can more effectively locate the source of an infestation and deal with it safely and thoroughly than you ever can by yourself.