Last month I found an Indian meal moth in my kitchen. So what, you say? This insect is probably the most common pantry pest that I get calls on. And it’s in my kitchen. Which meant I had a task in front of me that I wasn’t looking forward to.
Indian meal moths are small moths that fold their wings back to form a triangular shape when at rest. The wings are light tan with a coppery-red color at the tips. Larvae, are anywhere from creamy- white to yellowish- green to a pinkish color and often are not seen until they are searching for a location to pupate (unless you go digging through the food in your pantry). Larvae spin a cocoon to pupate, usually near where the walls meet, near the ceiling, or in cracks.
So, what was the dreaded task that I had to undertake? I had to go through everything in my pantry to get rid of any infested items. If you try to only manage the adults you will not completely get rid of your problem since more adults will emerge and you’ll be back to square one. You need to find the source and get rid of it.
Larvae feed on flour, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, crackers, dog food and a slew of other items. When I started my search, I began at the back of my pantry because that’s where old items that don’t see the light of day end up. Since older stored products are more likely to harbor pantry pests, this seems to be a decent strategy in my opinion. I went through and checked everything; even items that haven’t been opened. Problem solved after all infested items were thrown away.
If you can’t part with a particular item and would like to still use it, you can either put it in the freezer for a couple of days to kill the insects or you can spread it on a baking sheet and bake it on the lowest oven setting for about 4-6 hours. Once the insects are dead, you can either eat the product with the insects in it (added protein) or you can sift/ pick the insects out.