What are Pantry Moths?
Pantry moths are household pests that can ruin and contaminate foodstuffs. Pantry moths do not harm animals or humans. But they do cause problems with food in storage. Generally, Pantry moths are also known as Indian meal moths.
Alternative common names are weevil moth, Indian meal moth, flour moth or grain moth. The almond moth and the raisin moth are commonly confused with the Indian-meal moth due to their similar food sources and appearance.
The pantry moth and larva have a distinct appearance. The moth larva looks like small, thin grubs. They are typically white or yellow in appearance, but may sometimes have a green or pink tint. The bodies of the caterpillars are about 2/3 of an inch long.
The adult moth is a greyish brown, and the wing tips are a rusty brown. The moth is about half an inch long and has a wingspan of just over half an inch with brown speckles spotted over the body of the moth.
Where Do They attack?
Small moths fly around the kitchens or homes in a zig zag pattern. They attack a wide range of products including grains, candies, cereal, chocolate, beans, spices, nuts, dry animal food, flour, birdseed, and dried fruit. Indian meal moth is the most common pantry moth.
Properly identifying your pest will help you target your efforts. Consider contacting Control Pest Management for help in correctly identifying a pest. Meal moths are attracted to light and fly mostly at night. Larva (white worm-like pests with brown heads) are usually suspended from the ceiling.
The larvae of some species have the ability to bite through cardboard and plastic. Therefore, even sealed containers may be infested. The biggest threat the pantry moths pose is that of infestation and spoiling food, creating waste and increased living costs to the homeowner. Pantry moth larvae can chew through plastic and Ziploc bags to access food.
Types of Pantry Moths
There are four types of pantry moths that can be found in the kitchen. These include white-shouldered, Mediterranean, Indian and brown house moths. With a single female able to lay up to 600 eggs, an infestation, if left untreated, can result in expensive food wastage, as well as hygiene issues for your family.
However , where there is a supply of food this will result in an infestation and larvae will soon become a serious problem.
Mediterranean Pantry Moths
The adult Mediterranean Pantry Moth is a light grey colour and from 6-12 mm long, with a wingspread of about 23 mm. The wings are marked with two fuzzy, dark zig zagging lines. Although flour is their favorite food, grains, bran and breakfast cereals are also attacked. The life cycle takes about 10 weeks.
Brown House Moth
At rest, the Adult Brown House Moth is typically 8-14 mm and its wingspan is 15–26 mm. The Brown House Moth larvae are about 6 mm long. Brown House Moth colouring is normally bronze brown with dark brown and sometimes black flecks on the fore-wings.
White-shouldered House Moth
The white shouldered house moth is a common species that belong to the same sub species as the brown house moth. The larvae are similar to other house moths, being a creamy white small caterpillar.
The adult female white shouldered house moth, lays up to 200 eggs near to a suitable food source. Eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks.
Indian Meal Moth
The Indian Meal Moth is sometimes referred to as the Pantry Moth or the Flour Moth. Adult Indian Meal Moths are 8–10 mm in length with a typical wingspan of 16–20 mm. Fully grown Indian Meal Moth larvae are usually about 12 mm long.
Female moths lay between 60 and 400 eggs on food. The eggs hatch in 2 to 14 days.
The adult moths lay eggs during their one week of life. The eggs develop for a few weeks, then hatch as small caterpillars. The caterpillars’ main goal is to eat and get as fat as possible, so they can wreak devastation in your food supplies.
The caterpillars are ready to form pupas in about one month to six weeks.The caterpillars create their pupas and develop into the moth after about two months. The adult moths then emerge and breed. About four life cycles of moths can be completed in one year.
Pantry moths lay their eggs on stored food and grains. Adult females can lay hundreds of eggs directly on or near potential food sources. Although, the damage is done by the larvae (tiny caterpillars). Finding an adult moth may be a sign that there are infested items somewhere in the home.
How to control Pantry moths?
Controlling the moths can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Here are some points which can be helpful for controlling pantry moths.
- Clean out the entire pantry with soap and water to kill all dormant eggs that may be present
- Use nontoxic moth traps in the pantry to collect any stray moths after cleaning
- Discard all contaminated food away from the house
- Keep food in thick storage containers, such as thick plastic or glass containers
- Monitor the kitchen closely to eliminate any future infestations.