Indian Moth Invasions
A. Indian Meal Moths do not usually stray too far from their food source, only when larvae are looking for a place to pupate. A thorough inspection with a flashlight is always a good start. Check the entire house inside out. The right thing is in cleaning food storage areas. In most cases, you should be able to find their food source. This may be a thing like cereal, nuts, flour, dried fruits, pet food, dried flowers etc. Keeping foods in plastic containers will help keep them out. Look for webbing material; this is also where the larvae like to hang out. Birdseed can also be a source of moths. Often folks overlook their dried flower arrangements and wreaths. Your search for the food source of these moths is their silk webbing on the food source. Sometimes the moths are attracted to nuts and foodstuffs stored by squirrels or rodents. Look for evidence of animals. Cocoons tend to be in cracks and crevices, so particular attention should be paid to these areas when cleaning. Your search may not turn up a food source, as the previous owner may remove whatever it was, leaving you the infestation.
Adults can easily be swatted with a flyswats. The adult moth can have a wingspread almost 5/8-inch wide. They are folded backwards in a resting position, showing copper and gray bands of color. Adults usually lay eggs at night and over a two or three week period, will lay more than 400 eggs. Mature larvae move away from infested materials to pupate in neighboring cracks and crevices. They can easily have six generations per year.
Because of their habit of moving some distance from infested products, an intensive cleaning routine is necessary to find and eliminate Indian meal moths and larvae in cracks and crevices.
It takes persistence and patience to eliminate pantry pests. Adults near food sources in cracks and crevices lay the eggs. A gap behind cabinets above a stove is an ideal location because adults know that food sources are near. Vacuuming and spraying all nooks and crannies with pesticide and using traps will tend to eliminate pests after all food sources are eliminated. All food products should be stored in airtight containers. This includes both human, pet and bird products. Discard or freeze existing grain products to eliminate eggs and larvae. Store new products in airtight containers or slip into zip-lock bags. Eggs can be brought home in these products and hatch into larvae that mature into adult pests, which reproduce.
New homeowners can move into a home that is already infested. Foggers will kill live insects, but will have little or no effect on eggs and larvae in nooks in crannies where foggers do not reach. Sanitation and prevention are the best control measures. Do not overstock your pantry. Purchase only products that you plan on using in the next week or two. Shop at a local grocery that has a high turnover of shelf goods. Proper storage of grain products and quick turnover of these on your pantry shelf will tend to eliminate pantry pest problems.