The pantry moth or Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) is considered to be the most troublesome of the moths infesting stored products. Pantry moths are most often introduced into the home in packaged goods and groceries. Stored-product pests are usually brought into the home in an infested package of food. Initially, infestations are easy to overlook, because the insects involved are quite small, especially in the egg and larval stages. Often the first indication of an infestation is small moths flying about or beetles in or near a package of food. |
Here’s how to get rid of them naturally.
Prevention and Sanitation Most home infestations of pantry pests maintain themselves on spills in the crevices of cupboards and drawers or in opened packages of food stored for long periods of time. Following a few general pest control guidelines when storing food products will help you avoid many potential problems:
Don't put exposed food on shelves. Place it in containers with tight-fitting lids; plastic bags aren't adequate. Regularly clean shelves, bins, and all other locations where there is any possibility of flour or other food particles accumulating. Certain pests need only small amounts of food to live and breed. Soap and water are great for cleaning flat areas, and vacuuming with a crevice attachment will help clean cracks, edges, and corners. Don't mix old and new lots of foodstuffs. If the old material is infested, the pest will quickly invade the new. Clean old containers before filling them with fresh food. They may be contaminated and cause a new infestation. Don't purchase broken or damaged packages of food materials. They are more likely to become infested. Construct storage units so that they are tight and can be easily cleaned. Store bulk materials, such as pet foods, in containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep storage units dry. This is important because moisture favors the development of pantry pests, while dryness discourages them. Some pantry insects breed in the nests of rodents and insects and may migrate from these into homes. Eliminate any nests found in or near the home. Pantry pests can also breed in rodent baits. Be sure to frequently check and discard infested baits.
Control: Inspect foods for possible infestation before you purchase. Store susceptible foods in as dry a place or container as possible, for example, in pressure-sealed jars with rubber gaskets. Infested items can be thrown away or salvaged by freezing for 1 week. Clean up food spills promptly, paying close attention to cracks and crevices. The Pantry Pest Trap uses a powerful attractant to detect adult moths. Place the trap near the problem area, generally where dried foodstuffs are stored. Release trichogramma wasps to attack and destroy the eggs. These tiny beneficial insects are very effective because they prevent the pest from reaching the destructive larval stage. Bacillus thuringiensis, var. kurstaki or Monterey Garden Insect Spray (Spinosad) will kill the larva. Treat cracks and crevices with diatomaceous earth and/or botanical insecticides.
Cleaning Up an Infestation
Most commonly, by the time the insects are noticed, they have already spread to other food packages. Carefully inspect all packages, especially those that have been opened or are exposed. Destroy any that give the slightest indication of infestation. Other than the insects themselves, telltale signs include webbing in tight places of a package or tiny holes in the container. Insects are less likely to invade packages that have their original seal but more commonly infest those that have been opened or that have been on the shelf for a long time. Before replacing noninfested packages, wash shelves with soap and water, scrubbing corners and crevices or vacuuming them with a crevice attachment to remove eggs and pupae.
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