Meal Moths, Help!!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by silentcrow, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. silentcrow

    silentcrow Furry Without A Clue

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    Please help! I've been invaded by an army of Indian Meal Moths! They have attacked food I can't afford to lose, but have no choice now. All my flour has been used as a nursery, even though it was in a plastic container. I went to cook some broccoli augraten rice tonight and, ugh!, they got into a sealed box of that! It sure made me lose my appitite fast. What can I do to get rid of them? How do I know which sealed boxes are safe and which aren't? Any suggestions? :help:
     
  2. TexasArtist

    TexasArtist Well-Known Member

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    do you have some containers to put the good foods in? If you do I'm thinking maybe a bay leaf in the container might help. I have a problem with bugs so I have everybody I know save whatever container possible (peanut butter jars, mayo. jars, butter containers and so on) I take the food out of the box some still in the little plastic baggie from the manufactur and cut the instructions out and put in with a bay leaf or two and I haven't had any problems yet.
    good luck
     

  3. halfpint

    halfpint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Meal moths can get in almost any store bought boxes -they will eat through the sealed bags of cereal, rice, noodles, flour, sugar, etc... The only thing that will keep them out is tightly sealed containers, like mason jars or some plastic containers. The best thing to do is to get lots of containers and put your things in them, also put diatomaceous earth (DE) inside so that any larvae that hatch will be killed. We had these bugs several years ago and it took a long time to get rid of them as the larvae would hatch in the cabinets then get into new stuff. You can also put things in the refridgerator or freezer, that is what we did with our cereal and several other items for about two years until we were sure they were gone. I kept my spices in ziplock bags as the moths would lay the eggs under the lids and you would not know they were there. I also found larvae under can labels and stuff so you really have to be diligent about getting rid of them. I also sprinkled DE inside my cabinets and vacuumed them about once per month. We did go on an extended business trip (4 weeks) with my husband during this time, and I totally emptied out my cabinets (put everything in the fridge or freezer) and put a lot of DE in the pantry. I think this is when we were finally free of them.

    Good luck!
    Dawn
     
  4. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There were certain grocery stores which had them (moths) and otehrs didn't where I lived. Using metal canisters glass jars to isolate everything (keeps out mice and roaches pretty much also), freezing suspicious stuff if possible but then keep it sealed to avoid reinfection from new stuff or your cupboards, for Y2K I had dozens of babyformula powder cans filled with grain that I froze for a few weeks since I didn't trust just mixing DE into the grain. Good luck- I know how mad it makes you!
     
  5. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you have a large freezer compartment, you can cycle your goods in and out to disrupt the reproductive cycle. Leave the product in the freezer for a week. This should kill larvae and adults. Take it out and let it come to room temperature, then freeze it for another day or two. The warm temperature stimulates the dormant insects that survived to emerge, and they cannot survive going back into the cold.

    Empty your pantry and vacuum the edges with a crevice tool. Use this tool along baseboards, counter edges and in drawers where any food may have been. Most failures to eliminate this insect occur because food debris has been left somewhere. Persevere.

    Another important tool which is hard to find for non-professional pest controllers is a growth regulator. Gentrol Point Source looks like a little bathroom deodorizer and emits a growth regulator into the air that prevents immatures from reaching adulthood. These last 4 months and are extremely low risk.

    Allure traps have a pheremone scent developed for grain moths. They may be difficult to find, but I have some left over, if you cannot find them. These can help reduce numbers, and indicate whether the problem is still there, but will rarely eliminate a problem.

    Consider items which may have escaped your attention, like dry dog food and dry cat food. These are great food sources for grain moths.

    If you sell the products, it is illegal to use diatomaceous earth as suggested above. If not, you can decide if you want to eat it. I am a little skeptical about the treatment working as described, because most reproductive activity will occur near the surface, and the DE will fall to the bottom.

    Gary
     
  6. silentcrow

    silentcrow Furry Without A Clue

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    Thank you for all the tips! I've got some jars and containers I'll start putting to use right away. I've also got a small chest freezer I can use...as soon as I get all those deer legs out of it (don't ask :eek: ). I did discover tonight, I'll need to vac more than the cupboards and shelf spaces...found some of the wiggly buggers on the ceiling! :eek: At least now I know why there are so many spiders in my house, especially the kitchen.

    I'll have to find a way to seal the dog food. The bird food is sealed in zippy plastic, so will hopefully be ok. If they eat into plastic bags, does that mean my Bisquick is most likely compromised? I have 2 unopened boxes :stars: I may have to clean out everything from my cupboards! :grump:
    Do they eat tea? I have several boxes of herbal teas, I'd hate to have to toss them, too. :(
     
  7. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lids must be airtight. It may seem impossible for an insect to get into a jar with the lid on, but the thread on the lid is like a long ramp and many pantry pests can go right up the ramp into the jar. Some jars, like peanut butter, come with a foil seal over the jar that you remove to get the peanut butter, but there is no seal on the lid. These will not work well. The moths cannot eat through plastic or foil. They can get into closed boxes, because there are openings. Contents in waxpaper, like cereal products, are not bug proof.
     
  8. BaronsMom

    BaronsMom Well-Known Member

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    The larvae of Indian Meal Moths will go through plastic - one of our professors has a "brandname" plastic container where the larvae went right through the side of the container. Glass jars with airtight seals or the clear, hard plastic food storage containers with airtight rubber seals work best.

    Pantry pests do infest unopened packages. Ziploc bags will not keep them out...They will go through foil.

    As for your Bisquick, I always keep mine in the freezer. It isn't as likely as source for the meal moths, but I have found plenty of flour/grain beetles in it over the years.

    Do not use any insecticides (including dusts like diatomaceous earth) in your pantry area. The pesticides don't belong near your food. The pheromone traps are helpful to help you identify a potential source for infestation. These bugs are "gross", and can damage your food products, but not harmful if you eat one.

    It might help to check out Managing Pantry Pests - from UNL Extension

    Good luck!
     
  9. Ruby

    Ruby Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I second he bay leaf. Put one in every container, also one on each shelf. I use to have that problem until I put out bay leafs. Just buy you a bottle of them in the spice section of the gro. I change mine every two or three years.
     
  10. majic99

    majic99 Well-Known Member

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    I bought sticky traps from gardens alive, they seemed to really work for me.
    Just keep everything in containers and get rid of the other stuff quick
     
  11. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    We got meal moths once, and I threw out *everything* except canned goods. I tossed unopened boxes of taco shells, noodles, soup mix, spices, pet foods, rice, beans, cereal... *everything*.

    Yeah it was expensive and it sucked BIG TIME. But after I tossed it all, and vacuumed and cleaned thoroughly, we were okay. I kept a super vigilant eye on all my dry goods type items for several months after that. I also began putting all my dry goods into airtight plastic (rubbermaid) containers. I read above that the larva can eat through plastic, yikes! :eek: I guess so far I've just been lucky in that respect.

    Nowadays we buy in bulk. We freeze our purchases for 2 or 3 days and then bag them in a plastic bag, drop them in a 5 gallon food grade bucket - the bucket is lined with another bag. We'll have several bags in the bag lined bucket. When it gets close to full we close the outer bag. Then we close the bucket (it has a seal on the lid). So everything is frozen, double-bagged, and in a sealed bucket. We haven't been doing this long enough to know how well it works but I'm hoping if it doesn't completely eliminate infestations it will at least control them to a single bucket.

    When I take stuff out of the bucket, it goes into the plastic airtight containers and the bucket gets sealed again.
     
  12. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    I just ate breakfast and i think this wasn't the thread to read! I'm curious because we are in a rental - what do you look for to know you are infested or have t hem?
     
  13. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    You look for little webby things in your meal, or little bitty grayish moths in the kitchen. Sometimes you'll see little larva "skeletons" in the meal.

    Here is a pretty decent link. If you click on the highlighted words "Indian Meal Moth", "larva", and "frass" you'll see what they look like, including that webby stuff.

    http://www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic/diagn/pest/mealmoth.html
     
  14. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    i ve had them and you get them from the store as others point out, ive heard spearmint qum works in your flour. thats what my mil did and she accidentaly baked it :)