Indian meal moths start out as eggs, and then the larvae hatch and begin feeding on whatever food is available. All too often the best food source is the dried goods in your pantry. Indian meal moths will eat things that you would not expect them to such as chocolate and coffee which is much too bitter for a lot of moths, larvae, or even beetles, to eat.
Your Vacuum Is Invaluable
If you have a lot of eggs and larvae around, then a vacuum will go a long way towards helping, especially if you are vacuuming up flour or corn meal that has been spilled. Carpets can be sources of Indian meal moths as well if they have not been cleaned regularly, and people have been careless with food stuff.
Food can be in places where you would not expect it. This is a common issue in homes with kids and pets in them due to all the activity. Treating areas with a vacuum regularly can help prevent insect infestations.
Add Light to the Situation
Indian meal moths like dark places. If you improve your lighting, then you may be able to reduce the likelihood of Indian meal moths hanging out in your space. You can use bar lights or even rope lights to assess your home and keep moths at bay while you clean up your space.
Reduce Nooks and Crannies
Having too much stuff cluttering up your home and living space is a bad idea in general because it is just more to clean and if you are not using all that stuff, then it is just taking up your time and possibly creating a better habitat for pests you could do without.
Nonprofits that accept donations are a good place to unload items that you don’t use but are usable still. These donations are all tax deductible so make sure to get a receipt if this is worth it to you.
These traps usually have walls and are sticky. There is a pheromone strip that attracts the moths into the trap. These traps often have a bad reputation because they just trap mostly male Indian meal moths which are not the ones laying all the eggs around your home or business. Females can lay a lot of eggs, so the traps sometimes do very little to prevent re-infestation.
Take a Long Hard Look at Cleaning Habits
If your home is lacking in the housekeeping department, then this could be the major cause of your Indian meal moth problem. Don’t beat yourself up too much over this because the truth is that a lot of people don’t even realize just how bad things have got until they have a problem. Your home could look immaculate on the outside, but you might discover that you dropped a bag of flour in the cupboard, and it got a hole in it or any other number of problems.
If you have a moth problem, then the first step should be totally cleaning your home up.
Soap and Water
A simple soap and water solution is effective for killing larvae and eggs. You can use this to wipe down areas that you suspect were in the infestation range.
Vinegar works to kill eggs, larvae, etc. If you find an area that has moths, then it is important to wipe it down well after removing and discarding food. Vinegar will kill just about any type of bug or other vermin in and around your home.
Check for Cracks and Methods of Entry EVERYWHERE
It is amazing how many gaps and cracks a home can have that no one is ever really aware of. You can use flashlights at night inside and have someone stand outside and see where the light comes through. Chalk or some other method of marking is helpful in these cases so you can come back and seal when it is daylight.
Silicone caulk, concrete patch, and spray foam are all common ways to seal up your home. All of these things can be easily purchased at your local hardware store. You can even get tiny 10 lb. bags of Quickrete concrete mix which is great for smaller patch jobs.
Purchase Good Food Storage Containers
Foods that are well sealed will never attract or get contaminated with Indian meal moths. Mason jars with solid lids work great and are very cheap however they are glass so if you are worried about breakage then you should choose BPA-free plastic storage containers.
Large quantities of dried goods can be stored in bins with lids that fit tightly. There are food grade containers that have actual screw down lids that promise an airtight seal. This could be an excellent option for those with larger families or those that bake and cook a lot at home.
Sometimes you can see the presence of Indian meal moth activity by the fine webbing that is within the grain in the bag. It may look like a spider got in, and there could be grain hanging from the sides of the bag. If you see this it is probably best to dispose of the food it is in.
Indian meal moths don’t eat much, but they can destroy a lot of food in a pantry. It is important to check all the food in your pantry if you find Indian meal moths in any of it.
Consulting a Professional for an Opinion
If your infestation problem seems bad enough, you may want to get the opinion of a professional exterminator. A pro can look at your home and offer you tips and advice on what is best for your unique situation. A lot of homeowners don’t resort to this unless they have tried a few things themselves and not had the results they wanted.
Your pro might tell you to do more than you want to but they are there to try to make sure that the problem doesn’t get worse or return. There is no doubt that sprays work and such, but they are not a long-term solution. A long-term solution is going to involve keeping things clean and sealing up your space, so it is harder for insects to get in.
You may have to invest some money in new screens, patching holes, and other renovations. These improvements are well worth it. They will help make sure that your home is more energy efficient as well which could save you time and money.
Cutting Your Losses
If you have items that are damaged by Indian Meal Moths, it is best to simply throw them out if you can. If something is valuable it may be worth saving, but you should take steps to prevent any further damage. This may mean sealing up items in plastic totes or wrapping in garment bags.
Assessing the Situation
Just because you have a few Indian meal moths doesn’t mean you are in the midst of a full-on infestation. While food manufacturers take measures to ensure that dry goods are not contaminated with bugs, it is possible to get Indian meal moths via processed foods. If you don’t see them anywhere but a single bag, then dispose of it outside immediately and then keep a lookout for more bugs in other areas of your home.
The sooner you notice the problem and dispose of contaminated food stuff the better. This may not be the end of your Indian meal moth problem though since there is always a slight chance of them entering via your groceries. Unfortunately, even uncontaminated food packages can become contaminated while sitting on store shelves.
Take a Look at Decor
If you have a lot of dried flower arrangements or any wreath that hangs on your wall or doors, then you should take a look at it to make sure that it is not infested with Indian meal moths. If it has been eaten on, then you should just throw it out and get something new. Dried arrangements are inexpensive, and it is not worth it to keep your home infested. Getting rid of the source of moths is often enough to solve the whole problem for you.
Take Charge of Pet Feeding and Sleeping Areas
Pet foods are a major attraction for all types of moth larvae, flies, beetles, and more. If you have messy pet areas, then there may be bits of food and other morsels around. Small bits can be hiding in cracks and corners where you would not think there was enough to matter. In truth, it takes very little to feed Indian meal moths so that little bit could be making a big difference.
It Can Be Hard to Tell
Until they hatch out into larvae or moths it can be hard to tell that you have an Indian meal moth problem on your hands. The strands of webbing in the bag of cornmeal are a sign, but they simply are not always noticed in time. People are often fooled into thinking that food they get from the grocery store is clean and uncontaminated, but this is not always the case.
Check Your Walls and Ceiling
As gross as it sounds, Indian meal moths larvae are often found crawling on the walls of pantries and kitchens. If you see them, you can use vinegar or soap and water to dispose of them. Paper towels may be advisable because they can be so easily thrown away with the larvae or eggs attached to them. It is a good idea to check behind appliances and other spots that are not typically observed. This will help you get to the root of the problem faster and easier.
If you can stand to get out of your house for a while then, you can use a room fogger to combat pest problems. You will need to make arrangements to leave your home for at least half the day. You may need to check back in to open windows to air it out. Fans can help with the airing out process. One fogger is typically needed per room but make sure to take a look at what the instructions say on the bottle and follow them. Never enter a room before it has had time for chemicals to dissipate to safe levels. Foggers should be a last resort before calling in the professionals.
Adding some food grade diatomaceous earth to your dry goods will not alter the flavor too much but will help keep things like Indian meal moths out of your food. You can order this powder or get it at a local health food store. It is also useful for ridding both people and animals of internal parasites.
Make Sure to Clean Kitchen Utensils
Wash and sanitize any kitchen scoops or utensils that have come into contact with flours or meals and other dry goods during the eradication process. This prevents eggs from causing a re-infestation. Hot water and soap are plenty good enough for combating this problem.
Keep Pet Foods out of Living Space
If you have a garage or other space, you should consider keeping pet foods and pet feeding areas in that space rather than in your immediate home area. Well-sealed containers will keep pet foods fresher and more palatable for your animals.
Indian Meal Moths Are Just Gross
Regardless of everything else, it goes without saying that Indian meal moths are simply gross things to find around your home. It is not hard to get rid of them if you are willing to change some cleaning habits and be vigilant when you see signs of them. Don’t just hang on to a bag of flour that is open because you don’t want to waste it. Letting bags just stay open and not properly stored is likely to bring in far more insects than just Indian meal moths.