The Indian Meal Moth


5 Pretty Gross Insect Facts
5 Pretty Gross Insect Facts

Who among us who keep birds hasn’t had them now and then? The most prevalent insect pests of grain goods kept in the home pantry are the Indian meal moth and grain moth. The sight of larvae on ceilings and worktops is sometimes the first indicator of their existence.

An Indian meal moth has four phases in its life cycle: The egg, which is so little that it can hardly be seen. It then grows into a worm-like larva. It creates a type of capsule/cocoon around itself during the larva stage, from which it hatches into the adult moth.

From egg to adult, the life cycle may take anything from 25 to 305 days. Over the course of 18 days, an adult moth may lay 40-400 eggs. They like to lay their eggs in or on the exterior of grain, seed, and nut packages, grain goods, dried fruits, chocolate, biscuits, bread meal, breakfast foods, cereals, corn meal, corn starch, cookies, crackers, dry dog and cat food, flour, garden seeds, and red peppers. The eggs hatch in 4-8 days, and the larva starts to look for food. Except for cans and vacuum-sealed containers, they can pierce practically everything. While devouring our food and that of our pets, this larva spins a continuous string of webbing everywhere it goes. This webbing has the potential to ruin more food than the larvae can swallow.

Depending on the diet, temperature, and length of the days, this larva will grow in another 21 to 70 days, and we will have a moth fluttering about our home, restarting the cycle.

All of this may seem frightening, but there is no need to fear. They are not hazardous, just inconvenient. Most of our food now has so many pesticides that meal moths avoid it. However, they continue to be an issue with our bird diets, particularly those that are natural and have no preservatives, which these pesky insects like.

Throw away any food that has been infected to the point that you can see significant webbing from the larva. Any other meal should be frozen for two days since it will kill the larva. You may also season the meal with bay leaves. Bay leaves prevent larvae from developing. There are also pesticide-free moth traps on the market. They emit a fragrance that attracts and catches male moths, preventing them from mating and producing eggs.

I would recommend freezing all of your bird seed, grain type feeds, and pellets as soon as you acquire them. Keep the food in a cold, dry location. It is far easier to prevent the problem than it is to get rid of the moths once they have established themselves in your home. You could also set up a couple of moth traps for added protection.

Moth traps are very effective if you already have an infestation. However, getting rid of all of them can take up to three years.

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