A common complaint that pest control companies receive from customers is about moths in the kitchen.
The moth most often responsible for this type of complaint is a pantry pest called the Indian Meal Moth. This moth is a stored product pest that is picked up from food material that is brought into the home, typically from a grocery or organic food store.
There are characteristic signs of an Indian Meal Moth infestation. The most common complaint heard is that there are adult moths flying around the kitchen.
The adults are about ½” long and have pale gray wings with a copper to rusty color shine. The adults are a sure sign that there is a problem, but upon further inspection of the cabinetry and areas where the wall meets the ceiling, a cotton tube-like mass will be found.
This mass is the pupal stage and it’s one of the reasons the problem continues. The Indian Meal Moth has 4 life stages of life, they are egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
Of the 4 stages, 3 will be visible during an inspection of the infested areas and food materials.
As stated earlier, this pest was brought into the home with some type of food material. The most common materials are grains, pasta, birdseed, dry dog food or some other similar type of product.
The key to stopping the problem is to find the infested food source. This, unfortunately, will take some doing and often can get expensive as most people will throw all of the food in their cabinets away.
This practice is neither recommended or necessary as rarely will all of the food be affected. Focus on finding the items which have been affected, the other items can stay. All canned goods are safe and need not be inspected.
In order to inspect your food storage for Indian Meal Moths, you must inspect each individual package of dry food for the presence of larva (a yellowish worm) or the aforementioned cotton pupa mass.
If a product is infested it will be obvious upon inspection if you have found the culprit. By throwing the infested food material(s) out you have effectively interrupted the life cycle.
After the infested food material is gone, you must catch or kill the adults and remove all the pupa stages before they are able to pupate into reproductive adults.
Failure to do this will allow the insect to repopulate your home. The adults are easily caught by using sex scented sticky pheromone traps available at most home improvement stores.
The pupa stages are best scraped and cleaned from the areas they are sticking to. A crack and crevice application of a pesticide to the cabinet interior corners and cracks may help to prevent re-infestation, but sanitation is the best method of control for this pest.
In some circumstances, a problem may continue even after all the preceding steps have been taken.
In this situation, it is best to contract with a pest management professional who can help identify areas and items that may have been missed.
It’s possible that an unforeseen harborage area in a wall void or under a cabinet may be the source of a continued problem.