Many people associate moths with clothing damage, and rightly so. However, not all species of moths will target your favorite sweater or party dress. Indian meal moths, also known as pantry moths, would rather make a beeline for your kitchen, where their young get into stored foods and make them unfit for consumption.

If you want to protect your stored food against Indian meal moth infestations, you need to understand some key points about how they live and breed, what they eat, and how to keep your pantry clear of these unwanted guests. Therefore, check out this guide to Indian meal moths.

What Do Indian Meal Moths Look Like?

Like other moths, Indian meal moths change dramatically over the course of their life cycle. A single female can lay hundreds of small, off-white eggs at a time. The larvae that emerge from these eggs grow to about half an inch in length. The larvae then enter a pupal stage as they mature into adults.

Adult Indian meal moths have gray wings with reddish-brown wingtips. They tend to flutter in midair instead of flying purposefully from one place to another. Since they have an attraction to light, particularly blue light, you may see them fluttering around fluorescent lamps or other indoor light sources.

What Eating Habits Do Indian Meal Moths Display?

Adult Indian meal moths cause plenty of trouble by producing large numbers of eggs, but they don’t actually destroy food products. That task falls to the larvae. The larvae will find their way into pantries and food containers to feast on grains, nuts, fruits, herbs, dried flowers, and birdseed or other pet food.

Thankfully, Indian meal moth larvae don’t spread any known diseases to humans. Even so, you won’t want to consume any food infested by these pests. The larvae tend to leave behind fecal pellets, egg shells, pupal cases, and a web-like silk all over your food. In fact, they damage more food than they actually eat.

How Should You Deal With an Infestation?

The first step in dealing with an Indian meal moth infestation is recognizing its presence in your home. If you see sawdust-like fecal matter, silky-looking material, or food stuck together in odd clumps, you probably have an Indian meal moth infestation even if you don’t see any actual larvae or pupae. Dispose of any infested food immediately.

With luck, you can vanquish a small-scale infestation by cleaning the pantry thoroughly with soap and water after disposing of the infested products. However, a larger infestation may extend beyond your kitchen to other, less obvious areas. If your problem continues, you may need to bring in a professional pest control team.

Pest control experts know how to track down Indian meal moth populations in the unlikeliest of places, from tiny spaces behind appliances to the gaps behind your electrical outlet plates. These technicians may then place sticky traps loaded with pheromones to attract and capture the moths.

How Can You Guard Against Indian Meal Moths?

You might assume that food stored in plastic bags faces no threat from Indian meal moths. Unfortunately, these pests can sometimes gnaw their way through thin plastic to get at the products within. Keep your grains, nuts, and other goodies in vacuum-sealed, thick-walled plastic, glass, or metal containers instead.

Indian meal moth larvae don’t need much food to sustain themselves, meaning that even tiny traces of sugar, four, or other substances can promote a thriving population. Get into the habit of cleaning up even the smallest spills right away and sweeping up any bits that might land on the kitchen floor.

If you’d rather not serve as a source of meals for Indian meal moths in your home, contact Quality Pest Control. We can inspect your residence for likely hiding places and active infestations, administer professional treatment as needed, and provide ongoing advice for keeping these hungry annoyances at bay.