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 EXTRA, 565 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.