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Diy Indian Meal Moth Pest Control

Updated on August 29, 2017
WesClark767 profile image

I have been a licensed structural pest control technician for the last 5 years. Let me share with you what I have learned of pest control.

What you will need:

Can of aerosol insecticide

Diatomaceous earth

Vacuum cleaner

small paint brush

The most common pantry pest

Have you ever gone to have a nice bowl of oatmeal or cereal? Only to pour it into your bowl and find a mass of webbing on the inside?

Gross! Well, say hello to the most common pantry pest to infest your stored food, the Indian meal moth.

Indian meal moth adults and larvae

Adult Indian meal moths and larvae
Adult Indian meal moths and larvae | Source

What is an Indian meal moth?

The Indian meal is a small tan and brown moth. The adult moths do not eat the stored grains themselves but they do lay their eggs there. The larvae stage are the ones who eat your food. They will spin silk inside the infested food stuff and feed. When they are ready to pupate (turn into an adult moth) they will crawl away from their food source to spin their cocoons.

Some examples of whole grains

whole grains
whole grains | Source

What do Indian meal moths eat?

Indian meal moths will eat:

- Whole grains and grain products (flour, cornmeal, oatmeal ect.)

- Dried milk powder, dried fruit, chocolate.

- Bird feed, and pet food.

How did I get Indian meal moths?

Indian meal moths can enter your home from the outside, either through an open door or window. But most likely it came in on infested food products. Getting in through a hole in the packaging or coming in on bulk food items, pet food or bird seed.

What would it cost to hire a professional to treat my Indian meal moth?

In Canada as of 2017 to treat for Indian meal moths will cost between $125.00 to $200.00 depending on the size of your house and number of kitchens.

How do I know if I have Indian meal moths?

The first time most people notice they have a problem is when they either see the adult moths or when they find webbing inside packages of food.

How can I prevent getting Indian meal moths?

  • Transfer vulnerable food items from their original paper/plastic bags or cardboard packages, rolling the tops of the bags will not be enough to keep moths out.
  • It is best to use insect proof glass or plastic containers with tight fitting lids.
  • If you shop at bulk stores, place your new purchases in a deep freezer for 5-7 days to kill any indian meal moth, eggs, larvae, or adults that may be inside, before storing in the cupboard.
  • Installing insect screens, and screen doors to prevent their entry form the outside.


How to treat for Indian meal moths.

  • Firstly, remove and inspect everything from the food storage cabinet, don't forget to inspect places where pet food and birdseed are stored.
  • Inspect all the types of food items Indian meal moths like to eat (see above "What do Indian meal moths eat?")
  • Throw away any infested food items found into a plastic garbage bag, tie shut and dispose of it.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner, with crevice tool attached, inside the cabinets, food storage areas and behind and under appliances, clean along any crevices to remove any food spills, adult moths and webbing you find.
  • When finished, remove vacuum bag and dispose in a plastic garbage tied shut. If a canister type vacuum, empty contents in a plastic garbage bag tie shut and dispose of. Then wash canister and let dry before re-installing.
  • Wash the inside of the cabinets, food storage areas, and wash the floor areas under appliances. Let dry before treating these areas with pesticide.
  • Treat the cracks and crevices in these areas. Use either an insecticide spray for crawling insects, or brush diatomaceous earth using a paintbrush.
  • Line shelves with paper before replacing items.
  • Do not use an aerosol and diatomaceous earth in the same spot as this can cause the diatomaceous earth to clump and become ineffective.

The Label Is the Law!

Read the product label fully. The label is a legal document and must be read and understood in order to use the product safely and effectively.

Misusing a product not labeled for your target pest, or not intended for pest control at all, may be harmful to you, the environment and in some cases can make the pest problem worse.

What is diatomaceous earth, and how does it work?

Diatomaceous earth is made from small oceanic shells called diatoms. These are ground into a powder and mixed with silicone dioxide. Some have a food attractant added to lure pests in. It works by scratching the waxy cuticle on the insects exoskeleton when they walk through it. Or by ingestion when they eat it directly, or when cleaning it off their legs and body. The silicone dioxide will then absorb the water from their bodies and kill them by desiccation (they dry out).

What is a crack and crevice?

A crack and crevice is where insects like to hide and travel. Crack and crevices occur where to different types of structure meet, such as were walls meet floors, counters meet walls, voids were pipes and drains pass through walls or floors ect.

Using a vacuum to clean cracks and crevices

Food spillage beside stove
Food spillage beside stove | Source
Vacuum and wash floor to remove food debris
Vacuum and wash floor to remove food debris | Source
Vacuum cracks and crevices
Vacuum cracks and crevices | Source
Vacuum cracks and crevices
Vacuum cracks and crevices | Source

Treating cracks and crevices with aerosol spray or diatomaceous earth

Treating crack and crevice with aerosol
Treating crack and crevice with aerosol | Source
don't overlook areas such as shelving peg holes
don't overlook areas such as shelving peg holes | Source
treating cracks and crevices with paint brush dipped in diatomaceous earth
treating cracks and crevices with paint brush dipped in diatomaceous earth | Source

Monitoring for continued activity.

  • Use a pantry pest lure to monitor for continued activity after treatment.
  • These consist of a cardboard box with sticky glue inside and a pheromone lure inside, either integral with the glue or in a separate package.
  • Set the lure in the areas of former activity. the lure works by attracting the males with the pheromone into the trap. This removes them from being able to fertilize the eggs and will let you know if there is still activity.
  • Keep a record of the catches made, and whether they are trending upwards or downwards.
  • Lures are usually good for three months, by which time, you will know if the problem is resolved or not.

pheromone lure
pheromone lure | Source

Practice these steps to gain and keep control of Indian meal moths.

To gain and keep control of Indian meal moths use the following steps:

1- Prevention- inspect newly bought food items for signs of, webbing, larvae, or adult moths.

2-Sanitation- Clean up food spills when they happen.

3-Proper Storage- Store vulnerable food in glass or plastic containers with tight fitting lids.

4-Rotation- Use up older food first to keep it from becoming a breeding source.

5-Control- When an Indian meal moth problem is found. Some kind of control will be needed. Usually a combination of sanitation and pesticide.

6-Monitor- Periodically inspect for, or use a pantry pest pheromone lure to watch for Indian meal moth activity.

© 2017 Wes Clark

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