How Did Pantry Moths Get Into My Charlotte Kitchen?

January 16, 2020

The last thing you want to see when you open a bag of food is insect eggs, larvae, or webs, but it’s a common occurrence for pantries to become infested with pests, especially with Indian meal moths – more commonly known as pantry moths. Not only can an invasion be gross, but it can be expensive to have to replace food and other items that may have come in contact with these pests.

an indian meal moth infesting a north carolina food pantry

Indian Meal Moth Identification

These common house-invading moths are extremely active when it comes to looking for places to lay their eggs, and it’s the moth's larvae that do the real damage. Here’s how to identify moth adults and larvae:

Adult Pantry Moths

  • Shape & size: Rather small, usually only around 12mm in length, adult moths appear oval-shaped when not in flight.

  • Wingspan: Their wingspan is usually around twice their body length and their wings are dark gray near the ends and lighter toward the body.

  • Eggs: Female moths can infest food products with hundreds of eggs in their lifetime, so these pests are pervasive.

Pantry Moth Larvae

  • Shape & size: These small caterpillars are typically off-white in color with brown heads. They can grow up to around 12 millimeters in length.

  • Diet: These larvae love to feed on dry grains and nuts, typically infesting containers of flour, rice, beans, and other common household goods.

  • Lifespan: Moth larvae can grow quickly or slowly depending on the climate and amount of nutrients they eat. The larval stage typically lasts a few weeks and is over once they spin silky cocoons (pupae) that they later emerge from as adult moths.

How Moth Infestations Start

Most of the time, an infestation of pantry moths starts outside the home. Food products bought from stores and farms might already be infested with eggs, which hatch by the time the bags get stored inside cupboards and pantries. Pantry moths can also fly into homes or make it in through cracks in walls or window sills. Once they do, adult moths will look for places to lay their eggs so that larvae will have easy access to food and a safe spot to spin their pupae.

Pantry Moth Prevention

Being preventative rather than reactive is always a good method, so it helps to know some easy tips for keeping Indian meal moths away:

  • Inspect groceries thoroughly. Knowing that these bugs can already be hiding inside store-bought goods means it's on you to check containers thoroughly before purchasing. Be on the lookout for the small, yellowish egg sacs or the milky larvae themselves, particularly in dry goods products like grains and beans.

  • Clean cupboards and pantries. Keeping food traces at bay in your home is another good step. Deep clean those areas where residue or crumbs linger and make sure containers aren’t punctured or leaking.

  • Safe storage. Storing dry goods in heavy-duty containers helps in two ways. First, they are harder for pests to chew into and get access to food products. Second, by transferring dry goods into a separate container, you can be sure that the entire bag has been checked for contamination.

Aruza Can Help!

Don’t get disheartened or frustrated if you notice the signs of an infestation in your Charlotte home. These things are common and even the most astute and responsible homeowner can get saddled with pantry moths. Plus, you’re not in this alone! Your local Charlotte pest experts at Aruza Pest Control have experience in tackling the problems caused by Indian meal moths, and we know all the places to check during a thorough inspection. Let us take care of the problem and provide you with the assurance that your pantry moth population is eradicated. Reach out to learn more about our home pest control process. 

Tags: indian meal moths | pantry pest control | pantry pest prevention |

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