Do you have lots of Indian meal moths in your area? During the wintertime, Indian meal moths do not die off; rather, they enter a state of dormancy called diapause. Before resting, they will first seek out warm places with food sources to lay their eggs.

While Indian meal moth eggs remain unhatched during cold temperatures, they can hatch prematurely in artificially warm environments — like your home! Read on to learn more about this insect and how to keep it out of your home.

What Do They Look Like?

Indian meal moths are about a half inch in length. Adults have reddish brown or bronze wings. When their eggs hatch, the larvae look a bit like mealworms. Their larvae have an off-white color with occasional green or pinkish hues.

You may also spot webbing in corners and other nooks and crannies where they like to make cocoons. Moth eggs are less than a millimeter long, but they are usually deposited in clusters, so you may notice grayish-white, tablet-shaped eggs.

Why Are These Insects a Problem?

Indian meal moths can wreak havoc on farmers’ grain crops. If they get into your pantry, they can contaminate your food. They love to eat a wide variety of things, like:

  • Cereal
  • Flour
  • Dried fruits
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Pet food

Even if you are really good about putting your food away in sealed containers, Indian meal larvae have the ability to chew through cardboard and plastic. While they don’t carry diseases like other pests, they can contaminate your food. Females can lay about 300 eggs at a time, and they like to lay them near or on food sources. Once hatched, the larvae like to make webs in the foods that they contaminate.

Besides making your food inedible, this pest likes to hide in articles of clothing. They may lay eggs in clothing, or the larvae may use the area to pupate.

How Do They Get in the House?

The usual suspects, like poor insulation or cracks in window sills, can leave entry points for moths to get into your home.

Like bedbugs, Indian meal moths are very common traveling pests. If you travel this winter, check your luggage for any bugs before bringing the items back inside the house.

Moths can get into produce at grocery stores, so when you come back from grocery shopping, check your bags and your food sources for bugs.

As you bring equipment into the garage for winter — like shovels or patio furniture — check these items over for egg deposits.

How Can You Get Rid of Them?

Indian meal moths can be difficult to get rid of because they like to hide and because they can travel to difficult spots, like vaulted ceilings. It’s a good idea to contact a pest control professional to help you take care of the problem.

The pest control service might set up pheromone traps to lure adults. These traps are beneficial because they work well as lures and are non-toxic for family members or pets.
Some traps contain diatomaceous earth, which is also beneficial because it doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals. Diatomaceous earth dries out the pests and eventually they will die because of dehydration.

The pest control service might also use blue to violet lights near traps, since these lights can draw out moths from hiding.

If you notice Indian meal moths in your food, you may have to clean out your entire pantry just to make sure you remove all the eggs and larvae. Check your clothing for moths as well. Use a small vacuum to remove any eggs or larvae and then run the clothing through a hot cycle in your washing machine.

Contact us at Environmental Services Pest Control, LLC, for more information or if you need help removing Indian meal moths from your home.