an indian meal moth in a food pantry

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Most of the Pittsburgh pests that get into your home come in from the outside by way of entry points in your exterior walls, or through an open door or window. While pantry moths can do this, this is the exception, not the rule. It is far more likely that these moths will hitchhike into your home. The more you understand about this, the less likely you'll be to have an unfortunate dining experience.

What is a pantry moth?

These moths, also referred to as Indian meal moths, are insect pests that lay their eggs in stored food products, such as breads, dried fruits, pasta, chocolates, rice, powdered milk, dried red peppers, candies, seeds, dry dog food, and more. In their adult form, Indian meal moths are rusty brown moths with a tan band through the center. At only ⅝ of an inch in length, they are easy to miss. Their offspring are even easier to miss.

How does a pantry pest infestation happen?

When an infested product comes into your home with meal moth eggs inside, they hatch into tiny grubs. This is the beginning of the infestation. These grubs are hard to detect because they take on the color of the food they're feeding on. If they're eating brown rice, they'll be brown. If they're eating white rice, they'll be white. They usually don't become noticeable until they begin to create webbing inside stored foods. This webbing is used to create cocoons. Inside the cocoons, the larvae develop into pupae. Once the pupae mature, they emerge from their cocoons as moths. This is when you're most likely to detect them. Unfortunately, that means you've probably eaten contaminated food.

How do I avoid eating food with insects in it?

Indian meal moths, and other pantry pests, can lay their eggs in your food at any point from farm to table. There is no way to know what products have been exposed to pantry pests, but there are some factors that can increase the chance of infestation.

  • If an item is past its due date, the scent of the food inside could have attracted pantry pests to lay eggs in it. It is best to avoid purchasing anything that is past its due date.
  • If a product has been damaged, the holes or tears could have allowed a pantry pest to lay eggs inside. Avoid purchasing products that are damaged.
  • If a pantry pest has chewed a hole and entered a package, you may see these tiny holes. These holes can be subtle, but they are often detectable.

Food Management

There is no better way to avoid eating contaminated foods than to properly manage your foods. Here are two ways you can do this.

  • Sealed Containers — If you store your foods in sealed glass or plastic containers, there are many benefits. The containers do just what their name implies; they contain. If you have accidentally purchased an infested item, it will stay contained in the item rather than spreading to your other pantry items. If the container is clear, you'll be able to see wiggly larvae, webbing, or adult moths inside the container, which will alert you to an infestation. Once alerted, you can simply dispose of the product outside, clean the container, and move on with your day.
  • Package Management — If you don't use sealed containers, we recommend:
    • Writing due dates on your products and throwing away old products
    • Storing new items to the back and old items to the front
    • Storing pantry items on wire shelves, rather than wood
    • Keeping your pantry clean and free of debris

Pantry Pest Control

If you have a pantry infestation and you do not have your foods stored in sealed containers, contact Witt Pest Management. Pantry pests, like the Indian meal moth, can be extremely difficult to get under control. We'll give you the support you need and help you get rid of all the pests in your pantry.

Tags:  home pest control  |  pantry pests  |  pest prevention  |