How to Get Rid of Indian Meal Moth inside a Home

Control

Indian meal moths can be found in a variety of materials. They are actually a common pantry pest and can be easily confused with Clothes Moths. The most effective way to find infestations is to start in the pantry and to inspect materials that may host Indian meal moths. Look for webbings as a way to determine if any items are infested. This webbing is made by the larvae before pupation occurs. Any of the following materials can be infested with Indian meal moths: Dried fruits, cereals, nuts, grain products, candy, pet foods, spices, and also any other processed materials that have a vegetable origin. They can also be found in dried flower arrangements and also in scented dried arrangements like potpourri. Powdered milk and flour are also areas of infestation. Keep in mind though, that the larvae will travel off into other locations before the pupa stage and is not attracted to just one food source.

If an infestation is found, the key is sanitation and removal of all the infested materials. If there is no food source, the life cycles of moths will be interrupted. Cleaning agents like soap and water is less effective than to permanently eliminate the food source. Make sure to seal food in air tight containers. Zip-lock bags are not considered air tight. As a matter of fact, larvae can crawl through extremely tight areas and materials that are kept in zip-lock bags are often times infested with Indian meal moth larvae. Being thorough in your cleaning is important for prevention and elimination.

Monitoring devices are also key to track infestations. Such products like Pheromone based traps (4 ALLURE MOTH TRAP CATCHMASTER PANTRY MOTH TRAPS, ) are attractants to male moths. They do not contain any kind of poison and is merely a glue board with the sex pheromone pill that is placed inside. Each trap lasts about one month and must be replaced. Monitoring moths will give you a better understanding of how heavy your infestations is. Total elimination is not possible with pheromone based monitoring traps because egg laying females will not enter the traps. However, they are necessary before, during, and after treatment to enhance Indian meal moth management and determine if there is an ongoing infestation.

Insecticides should only be used after careful review of the product label and all materials should be taken out before the area is treated. Aerosol sprays (CB-80 EXTRA565 PLUS XLO) can be used for crack and crevice treatment in the pantry. Corner linings and baseboards should be sprayed thoroughly. After treatment, the treated area should be left alone to dry (2-3 hours) and there is about a 2-4 week residual and the area should be treated again. You should never apply the insecticide directly onto food, food preparation surfaces, or around food utensils.

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Date: Monday, 3. January 2011 17:59
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95 comments

  1. 1

    Hi Nicole,
    You’re right, it is strange that a meal moth infestation will occur in your daughter’s bed…she’s not sneaking snack upstairs is she? 😀 But, you will want to get it thoroughly cleaned. I don’t know how safe it is to treat the mattresses with Lysol, instead you may want to use some traps or controlled aerosol insecticides that will treat those tight cracks and crevices. If you have any questions that our representatives can help you with, feel free to call us at 1-800-788-4142.

  2. 2

    I discovered meal moth larvae and cocoons al in my bedroom head board which has several drawers and compartments. They are in the drawers on papers in jewelry boxes on hats inside books and.envelopes in picture frames sitting on dresser. I lysol wiped and.sprayed vacuumed. Found tne source a jar of trail mix threw it out. Can tjey or will they be in medicine bottles that are in my dresser? Im so grossed.out that I dont want to sleep in my room now.

  3. 3

    They look likesmall white worms with a red.head

  4. 4

    Hi Cyndi,
    Since medicine bottles are sealed tightly and the medication will most likely not be a valid food source for them, I doubt that they will infest the medicine bottles. Getting rid of the trail mix was very wise to do. As long as you are thoroughly cleaning, it should not be a persisting problem, but if you seem to find more, you may want to consider an insecticide treatment. We recommend using 565 Plus XLO in cracks and crevices. Keep in mind that 565 Plus XLO cannot be broadcast applied and must completely dry before you come in contact with the treated area again.

  5. 5

    We found Indian Meal Moths in the food in our cabinets after we had been gone on vacation for a week. We threw out any food source in our entire kitchen that wasn’t in the refridgerator or freezer. I’ve read on the life cycle of these critters and am hoping we are seeing the end to their existence in our kitchen, but want to make sure.

    We are now catching/killing 5-8 months a day near the cabinet where the food was. They seem “drugged” almost as I had bleached the shelves and used a spray (Hot Shot) in the cracks of the cabinets and near the wall where the cabinets meet the wall. However, I want to make sure we are nearing the end of these pests. We do not have food out anymore and have thrown out any cardboard boxed containing appliances or dishes they could be in. We also use a pheremone trap in the cabinet (have yet to catch one in there).Is there anything else we can do at this point? Can they survive behind the cabinets in the glue that holds the cabinets together?

  6. 6

    Hi Jessica,
    It sounds like you are making all the right moves. Hot Shot is something that we do not carry, so we do not have adequate information on the product, but if it is working for you, keep using it. If it doesn’t, perhaps the only thing I can suggest is to upgrade to a professional grade product like 565 Plus XLO. If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to contact us again.

  7. 7

    Thank you for the help. Quick question…can they meaning the moths, their larvae and the worms, live in the glue that connects our cabinets?

  8. 8

    I had a problem with these moths in my pantry. I took everything out of the cabinets and still they were here. I bought raid house and rden. I sprayed them, instant kill. But they were still around. I examined everything closely. I threw out all the food, even boxes of yes bags. They were attached to the cardboard, tea bags. I suggest throwing out any aluminum foil, plastic wrap,they were attached to their box and roll. Clean any appliances, they were in my blender, coffee pot s and pans. Clean out everything. They hide in spots unimaginable. I even put everything in Ziploc. 2 Weeks moth free and I pray gone for good.

  9. 9

    I have had a problem with these moths since I moved into a new apartment. We had the exterminator come out and do a treatment and we threw away all grainy food, or put it into sealed containers. On Tuesday, it will be a week since the treatment. We hadn’t seen any adults for about 5 days but today we have killed 3. Is this normal? Should I contact the company for another treatment? Thanks.

  10. 10

    Hi Sarah,
    Since I am not sure what kind of treatment the professional did or what kind of steps the professional has took, I’m not sure what I can really tell you. However, sometimes, if the adults have not come in contact with the treatment yet, it is possible for them to still be flying around. Also, if the moth has come out of the pupae stage and into complete development, this can also count for an ongoing moth presence in the home. With all that said, the professional technician should have treated such target areas as corners, baseboards, and around the pantry and kitchen (with all precautions) and etc. He is not required to set out traps, but traps are a good way to control male adult moths and ultimately, reduce reproduction. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.

  11. 11

    We have also been struggling with this problem since the fall of 2012. They infested a linen closet after we left an infected bag of bird feed in there. We’ve cleaned everything out rigourously, and for a while in January 2013, we thought we were done as we’d not seen any for a while (couple of weeks), and then all of a sudden they started up again. They seem to still be coming from the closet, but there is no food anymore, so what are they feeding on? The closet is still completely empty, so is it possible these are just some of the leftover eggs/larva which are hatching now after a period of slow down due to the cold? Since they have no food source, can we expect that they will starve to death and disappear or should we be using a more aggressive method of extermination?

  12. 12

    Hi Dan,

    We recommend treating the area with 565 Plus XLO. All contents from the pantry should be removed and all corners of the pantry and shelves should be treated with 565 Plus XLO. Keep in mind that a broadcast application is not advised and instead a focused and precise treatment of the edges and corners will be more effective. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.

  13. 13

    After reading MANy of these comments it sounds like many people have had much luck with these traps. My question is, will these traps help while in the meal work stage? We own a apartment complex had pigeons nesting/living in attic. Have gotten all pigeons out and found infestation of meal worms in attic, I know they live off of grain, but I also read the could have been feeding off grain in the pigeon poo. Cleaned out all insulation, sprayed pesticides, had exterminator, now warmer weather is coming around again and the worms are everywhere. I have read they can thrive on insulation, which would be the only thing that makdes sense, and they are around the perimiter of the building but on inside. coming through drop ceilings. what would you suggest? Would male traps in attic help and what else could we do , please help, looking for anything to help at this point!

  14. 14

    Hi Kristy,

    The glue pheromone traps work for adult or fully matured Indian meal moths. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to let us know.

  15. 15

    So, the non of the traps you have would work for the worm stage? If there are worms though, there must be adult moths someplace, right? Would we just hang the traps in the attic and see if we catch any? Thank you for your help. I look forward to getting rid of this problem and hoping your traps can help!

  16. 16

    I started seeing larvae on the counter about a week ago. One at a time, and yesterday I saw 3 so I started looking it up online. When I got home from work I emptied out the cabinets, threw out everything except canned food. I washed the pots and pans on the next door cabinet and the eating utensils in the drawers above these cabinets. The source was some flour bag I didn’t even know I had. It was in a plastic bag. I wiped the corners and edges of the cabinets. Three away the cabinet liners and have left them Empty for now and will probably leave them empty for the rest of spring and summer. I didn’t vacuum them because I don’t have a Vaccum that uses badgs and I’m scared to get them in the Vaccum and have to deal with that. I only saw a moth ONCE in the drawer above the source about 6 months ago ang just killed it but never have seen one flying around my house. I don’t plan on buying any dried foods for a while because I’m so freaked out about it. At this point my concern or question is If there are eggs and larvae still left can they survive without a food source? Maybe I should Vaccum under the fridge and stove? Can they survive on old crumbs under the appliances alone?

  17. 17

    Do I need to throw out aluminum foil, plastic wrap etc?

  18. 18

    Hi Karen,

    It is probably not likely to throw away those materials are these are not materials that Indian Meal Moths will infest. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.

  19. 19

    Hi Jeanne,

    If eggs hatch, then the larvae may be able to survive shortly without a food source. Eventually though, they will migrate towards a food source. It is recommended that you vacuum and then dispose of the bag or vacuum bin in an airtight bag. I don’t think they can survive on crumbs alone but crumbs under the appliances can lead to other infestations of different pests like roaches or ants. We recommend a short residual spray like 565 Plus XLO to spray in corners and under the appliances. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.

  20. Thanks for your input
    Wednesday, 24. April 2013 12:52
    20

    First of all, Thank you Sunny for this page, and all the input from people, Let me explain our situation:

    About 4 months ago my mother in law left some dried nuts and fruits in one of the lower shelves of the kitchen, we didn’t think any of it as we keep things fairly clean, and long story short we were infested, we kept seeing these moths daily basis. (we have a bi level high ceiling yet small city apartment so our kitchen is open kitchen within our bedroom)

    After one week of these guys doing fly-bys one sunday I searched everywhere found a huge hive where the dried foods were (she left them in a nylon) and threw everything away, cleaned those specific shelves.

    We fairly went back to normal, but we would occasionally see one fly by maybe once every week.

    Recently I start to see one every 2 days or once a day. sometimes 2, they are mostly just sitting at a high ceiling corner, close to the open kitchen but not around directly food, I sprayed those shelves again (there is no dried food, just some rice and beans, and they seem to be not infected)

    I read every single post try to relate it to our ‘Mild’ case, my fiance is curious, after 4 months, can they still be the remainders of that huge main source that we cleaned, or simply there is another small hive, source somewhere, I did examine shelves again and cleaned them again with all purpose spray cleaner, I don’t see anythink physical, I just see moths again once a day…

    What do you suggest? I really don’t want to involve any chemicals because we can’t open our windows and our central air flow is really limited and I don’t want anything toxic in this household with no real way of air flow if you know what I mean?

    Thank you for your precious time in looking over and answering all these cases.

  21. 21

    Hi Thanks for your input,

    It is possible that even though you have thrown away the original source of food, the larvae has migrated to find new sources of food. Each item in a pantry where you keep dried foods, including rice, cereal, and etc, should be inspected for possible webbing from larvae or anything like it. If you are not comfortable with chemicals, we recommend using glue traps that are pheromone based and made for pantry moths. These are prebaited glue boards that will attract the males so that reproduction is not possible and eventually get rid of the infestation. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.

  22. thanks for your input
    Thursday, 25. April 2013 20:30
    22

    hi sunny thanks for your reply above..
    when i was waiting for your answer yesterday i went crazy and looked everywhere again. i emptied out every food. i am really sure where these buggers are, what i got suspicious about is behind the cupboard.
    now these cupboards are stick to the wall but maybe some eggs survived there? so i kind of moved the cupboard back and forth, a little space opened up behind the cupboard, so i sprayed all purpose cleaner there. when i was doing there last night i saw one come up. didnt exactly see where it flew from but i am assuming from tht general idea now i cant reach there without bracking the cupboard for some reason, and i dont want to freak out my landlord asking for his help. i on average see 2 of them mostly one when i wake up in the morning once at night.. if i set up glue traps where should i place them for my case? behind small spaces like behind the fridge ? (thats next to that cupboard so is the oven) i by the way pulled oven and fridge and cleaned everything there behind the cupboard is where i cant get to..

    and where are they getting their food source from if they are stuck there? thats what i really wonder….? is it eggs left over and they somehow surviving i wish i can locate larvea to see their route..

    these buggers…

  23. 23

    Hi there, my mom had gotten an infestation of meal moths a few ml this ago and although she has been trying hasn’t been able to completely get rid of them. My sister had a hamster in our room and apparently they found their way into that and were eating it. This was in our clothes closet and some of them laid cocoons on my clothes. Recently I got married and moved into an apartment with my husband. I noticed some of these cocoons on my clothes but in the wedding chaos didnt really think anything about it until we came back from the honeymoon and I noticed a moth flying around. I immediately began searching food for infestation and haven’t found any but put all things in freezer to be safe. I also got pheromone traps (caught three over the course of a week) and killed maybe another three or four. I haven’t seen any since the last straggler I found last Friday. How long before you think I should be all clear?

  24. 24

    Hi Megan,

    It depends on how well you have been taking care of the source of the problem as far as cleaning the corners and using a spray to treat the these cracks and crevices around the corners. It may take a few weeks for complete eradication. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.

  25. 25

    Hi.
    I had an infestation of indian meal moths last May. I had an exterminator in and did routine spraying every month and then every other month until Dec, with the allure traps to monitor the infestation in between. By Dec, they were gone and I stopped the exterminator. Just this week, I saw a bunch of moths and they seem to be coming back. Is this due to the warm weather or is it a new infestation? Do I need to call another exterminator or can I control this on my own? Thanks in advance.

  26. 26

    It could be that they weren’t fully exterminated previously. You can actually exterminate the moths by simply using pheromoned moth traps . It is also important to look around your pantry and throw out any foods that may be infested.

  27. 27

    Wow, I never knew this could be such a problem! We starting seeing the adult moths this past winter. I never found any webbing, larvae, etc. only adult moths. I threw everything away in my pantry, washed every surface with a bleach solution and then did the same with every cupboard and surface in my kitchen. I never found a nest or source. I threw away spices that weren’t in jars with airtight lids and wiped down each jar. Then we set the pheromone traps and caught many adults over a several week period. We gradually began using our pantry again but put food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator or freezer. We went a couple of months without seeing any moths and now they’re back again. We find a few a week but all in our kids bathroom (upstairs) and in our clothes closet and bedroom (also upstairs). There’s no food up there. Its definately the same moths What am I missing?? I haven’t used any chemicals and frankly wouldn’t even know where to begin if I did. I’m not seeing moths in my kithen or pantry area but do I need to clean it out again?

    Help please! This is costly and frustrating!!

  28. 28

    Hi Laura~
    I know how frustrating it can be… trust me. It’s like the moths always use the same invasion method as a tactic to annoy everyone and drive them crazy! At least that’s what they did to me… Once I cleaned out my pantry and sprayed the cracks and crevices of my pantry and the surrounding areas I hung up pheromone traps and also set mini light traps. The Fly Web Fly Lights are very convenient to use as it plugs in the outlets like a night light. I hope this information helped! Good luck (:

  29. 29

    I started having problems with my bird seed for my parakeets having grain moths in them. There is none in the actuall food comtainer, but in the bottom of their cage, i keep cleaning the cage, and ill only find one a day after that, but after a few days they all come back, what idea do you have that will not harm my parakeets in the processs?

  30. 30

    I would recommend trying pheromone glue traps such as Since it is a pheromone trap, you should have no problem with food competition in the area.

  31. 31

    I’m currently cleaning out my pantry because of these moths. My question is can they can infest unopened boxes of cake mix, jello, oatmeal, dry pasta, bags of dry beans, boxed taco shells and other items such as these? The only way to inspect for infestation in these items is to actually open them so am I better off just throwing them out? Also, are products ‘safe’ if stored in airtight containers such as Tupperware? Thanks for your help.

  32. 32

    Hi Pam,

    There is a possibility that pantry moths can infest unopened boxes if they are damaged, or there was a problem with the manufacturer. As long as the foods you are trying to store are in tightly sealed, the products should be okay.

  33. 33

    Hi there

    We have been going through a cycle of sprays from Rentokil (pest control company in the UK) and have not only thrown out our food but been scrubbing clean all the shelves including removing the hinges off the doors.

    We just finished the third out of four spray cycles and this evening found several upstairs close to our bedroom and the bathroom. This is a new development and has left us confused. The kitchen is downstairs and we keep no food whatsoever nor ever eat upstairs. We also have laid out pheromone traps in the kitchen, one in the utility room and this evening, brought one upstairs.

    Maybe you can shed some light on why all of a sudden, we are funding them upstairs? These moths also seem a lot more energetic than the ones we have been seeing in the kitchen not to mention a bit bigger. They are, however, definitely the same specie.

    Thanks

    Guy

  34. 34

    Hi Guy,

    Because moths are flying insects, you may find a few upstairs, or spread around different areas. As the moths turn into adults, their main purpose is to find a mate and reproduce, so you may not necessarily find them in the kitchen (though they usually stay around the food source). The pheremone trap should help you keep the numbers down, and all foods should be sealed tight. Any boxes or foods left open, or has any broken boxes should be discarded.

  35. 35

    I keep seeing the worms crawl on the ceiling and have killed some moths. Same as others complain, I cannot find the source. I do store cat food and bird seed/food. To get rid of the worms I spray a piece of paper towel with rubbing alcohol and attach it to one of those “grab” sticks to choke and kill them. Can you tell me what their plan is as far as crawling on the ceiling? Where is their intended destination? I am so grossed out; today there was one dangling from the ceiling. I now wave a piece of cardboard in front of me; if one lands on me I will die! I hate all bugs especially spiders, but these worms have me so freaked out that yesterday there was a spider in the corner on the wall (normally, they get quickly sucked into vacuum). My boyfriend told me the spider was more powerful than the worm. Cannot believe my desperation, but using my “grab” stick, I actually ‘herded’ the spider onto a small piece of paper towel (no alcohol!) and carried it across the kitchen and put it on top of a cabinet where the worms seem to start out from. Whenever I got up during the night I saw the spider crawling (he must have been going behind about six feet of cabinet and coming out the other side). His motion was back and forth, and in circles along the vicinity of where I placed him. In the morning I lost sight of him. Do you think he may be asleep somewhere or did he get eaten by the worms? I asked my boyfriend if he could find me a bigger spider. Is this a possible solution to get rid of the worms or am I reaching to bit too far?? Thanks for any advice…

  36. 36

    Sorry to hear about your horrible grub infestation. If grubs are continuing to appear then there has to be a source from which they are appearing. If you have any grains or pastas in that cabinet I would throw it out. I would even clean out all my cabinets and spray it down. Unfortunately these grubs can slip through plastic containers and zip block bags so we recommend you store any grain products in air tight glass containers. The cat food and bird food should also be checked to make sure it is not a possible source. Following the clean out I would recommend using pheromone moth traps to trap the adult moths. As temporary relief I suppose you can ask your spider friend for help… although I’m not sure how effective it may be.. haha. Well, best of luck to you!

  37. 37

    I have a terrible infestation of meal moths in my pantry, which is in my laundry room. I emptied the pantry (threw away a LOT of food, had the exterminator come and spray. Let the spray sit for a day, then went back into the pantry, removed all shelves (I should have done this before the exterminator came), and vacuumed the pantry. All my food is removed from the launder rom and is sealed in ziplock bags, and I already had some in airtight containers. My question is: After I continue to clean, and add the pheromone strips. Will it help if I paint the entire pantry and laundry room? Will that cover any potential eggs and or larva? Also, an exterminator once told me to clean the shelves with either rubbing alcohol or vinegar. Will this help?

  38. 38

    Painting may help, though it may not be necessary. Instead of painting the surface you can simply clean it down with rubbing alcohol or vinegar. It will definitely help with your treatment.

  39. 39

    I discovered a pretty bad infestation in my pet treat container. We removed everything, cleaned the container and have moved all pet food to air tight containers. I have not seen ANY more larvae but I kill at LEAST 2 moths a day in our bedroom (where the infestation was) They have not moved to any other area of the house (yet) but I’m wondering if these are just stragglers and the population has been sufficiently interrupted or if I need to take further steps. It’s been about a week since I first found the initial infestation.

  40. 40

    If you removed the initial source then the rest are most likely stragglers. I would recommend using pheromone moth traps to capture the ones who have been left behind.

  41. 41

    Hi there,

    Just had great fun reading through these suggestions and kept traipsing back to the kitchen for another go at finding the source. Pesky little buggers. Have done all of the above and now are just waiting… Did also discover that perhaps my hot, “wheat pack” that I store above my microwave (to heat it up) could also be a possible source and sure enough, I had some suspicious looking “webby, case -like things” underneath the bag in the corners of the shelf. Gone! Can’t wait to see some of these suckers lying on the traps over the next few days.

    Thanks once again for all the comments, tips and suggestions!

  42. 42

    I have my mother in a dementia unit. She had had some bird seed as they had been filling up her bird feeder but now there is an infestation of mealworm moths. I will invest in the moth traps but wonder about spraying. As you can imagine, there is an ongoing source of food scattered due to the dementia of the patients throughout the area. I have gotten rid of the source in her room but they may find lodging elsewhere. What could I safely use in her room that has low fumes for the cracks and crevices?

  43. 43

    Hi Franki, I would try using CB-80 Aerosol. CB-80 is an insecticide with Pyrethrins, a botanical insecticide. This product is labeled for use inside Nursing Homes, Schools, Hospitals, Daycare Centers, as well as many others. I would recommend that the patient leaves the room until the applied insecticide has fully dried. Leaving the windows open to help ventilate the air will help speed up dry time.

  44. 44

    I have recently learned these moths can be reproducing in and around a bird cage, for this is happening with a few bird owners in my apt complex.

  45. 45

    The bird food could be a factor in which the indian meal moths are finding the area near the bird cage a good place to nest. We would recommend checking the bird food and putting out pheromone glue traps.

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