Pantry-infesting insects are pests that feed on grain-based food products. They are the primary insect invaders you may find in your pantry and cupboards.
The primary pantry-infesting insect you should keep an eye out for is the Indian Meal Moth. This is a small, brownish to tan insect with a light brown stripe across its midsection. The Indian Meal Moth is about 8 to 10 millimeters long and its wingspan can be 16 to 20 millimeters. You will typically find these moths in your flour, crackers, pasta, cereal, pet food, birdseed and other grain products. If you see these pests fluttering around your grains, check other rooms too. They can migrate from your kitchen into other rooms like the garage, where you might store your dog food or birdseed for example. They make their webby nests in hard-to-reach places like shelf brackets, behind door casing, baseboards, along the ceiling, in light sockets and any other small void. They might also be found in the folds and openings of your grain food packages.
Life Cycle of the Indian Meal Moth
Once the Indian Meal Moth breeding cycles begin, theybecome particularly obnoxious to a homeowner or restaurant owner. The insect’s life cycle is longer than other pyralidae insects of the same family, ranging anywhere from 30 to 300 days. The impact of their extended life cycle makes them difficult to control, allowing them plenty of time to adversely affect the food where the eggs are laid. With an average of 60 to 400 eggs laid, their relative breeding environment is diversely dependent on the availability of grain-based foods. Adults cocoon larvae with a small particle of grain so as to provide them with a food source during their growth stages. Most of these insect infestations occur at the point of manufacture of your packaged grain food products, like pet food and birdseed. Since the latter two are not intended for human consumption, the FDA does not impose the stringent regulations on these products as compared to other food sources. Populations of this insect can also be spread throughout a retail establishment where substandard control measures are practiced. Temperature changes affect their larval stage, which ranges between two and 14 days. Freezing and baking, can kill the larvae.
Habits of the Indian Meal Moth
The Indian Meal Moth’s habits vary greatly and are based on the types of food within their environment. The main types of food commonly infested are made from ground grains and various types of cereal products. The origin of infestations can be right in the field where these food sources are grown. The larvae can become processed during manufacturing and survive all the way to the retailer. Among the most often infested products are dried herbs, nuts, pasta and dried fruits. Equally at risk are dog food, bird food and fish flaked foods. There has also been observable breeding of meal moths in ornamental items that are made from specific classes of dried flowers. Indian meal moths have a unique flying pattern. Adults fly at night laying their eggs on food items. They chose large containers that are rarely disturbed, enabling them to have their larvae protected from external interferences. To avoid changing environmental conditions, their reproduction is greatly concentrated in hidden locations that are difficult to detect.
Signs of a Pantry-Infesting Insect Infestation
Indian meal moths have adapted to temperature variations by the nature of their longer life cycles, and can therefore reproduce in almost any condition. The webby cocoon can be found by opening all packages of grain-based items and looking for the larvae, which can usually be found under the folds of the box ends. A homeowner should immediately discard these infested products and store the rest of the items in sealed containers to prevent cross-infestation. Other signs that would show infestations by pantry infesting insects include:
- Clumping of Food – When food is infested, it becomes clumped and formed by larvae, webbed by strings of silk.
- Small Moths Flying in the Kitchen – If you see small moths flying in your kitchen area or garage with a zigzag pattern formation, you may have an infestation. You will notice them at night especially around bulbs or on any other light source, just like regular moths.
- Larvae and webbing in corners and edges of the room. – Look for small larvae and webbing in the edges of your ceiling, corners of your cabinets, baseboards, and shelf brackets.
Treatments for Pantry-Infecting Pests
- Initial control methods are to locate the infested products, which may necessitate emptying the entire pantry and searching through every container, opened or sealed. Immediately discard any items suspected of an infestation with Indian Meal Moths or other pantry-infesting insects.
- Thoroughly clean all surfaces where infested products were stored, especially where larvae can be seen. Clean behind baseboards, shelving and along the ceiling.
- Call the pest control professionals at Bugs by Brian right away. We implement a variety of control procedures including the placement of pheromone traps to capture any remaining pests before they continue reproducing. Any eggs that continue to hatch that you might have missed in your cleaning efforts, will also be trapped.
Call Bugs by Brian® today to exterminate pantry-infesting pests in your home or business.