Bugged by uninvited kitchen visitors?

As gardeners move back into their homes after spending the growing season outdoors, they may discover some unwanted six-legged visitors. In many places in Michigan, meal moths may have taken up residence in the kitchen, specifically in grain-based products.

Indian meal moths are one of the most common of these pests. Evidence of their occupancy can be small beige, erratically flying moths, or dusty, spider-like webbing on the top of food products. Foods include finely ground grain products like flour, cake mix, corn meal, instant potato flakes, corn starch and pancake mix. A variety of other foods like nuts, dried fruit, paprika, crackers and oatmeal can be invaded. Dry dog and cat food and bird seed are often targets.

Indian meal moths feed as small cream-colored larvae in the food products and then move to a place outside of the food product to pupate. Small silken cocoons might be found in stacks of napkins, boxes of coffee filters or drinking straws. The adults do not eat, just mate and fly.

The cure is simple but time consuming. This is “Sort, Save or Toss” time. You’ll need to check closed boxes, too. Put products without evidence of insect invasion into airtight containers or the refrigerator or freezer. Throw out infested products. Buy small amounts of new products when needed and containerize them until there are no more problems.

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