Fact vs. Fiction: Indianmeal Moths


September 18, 2014

Indianmeal moth

Indianmeal moths are notorious for roaming great distances in search of food. Photo courtesy of, and copyrighted by, Gene White, pmimages@earthlink.net

Fiction: I froze my foodstuffs, but I still have Indianmeal moths (IMM) flying around my cabinets.

Fact: Freezing stored products (grains, cereals, spices, dried fruits, nuts, etc.) for a minimum of three days will kill eggs, larvae and adults. If you still see activity, it’s likely because there are still populations hiding in cracks and crevices, packaging creases, dried floral arrangements and a host of other places. To clear an infestation, all affected product needs to be removed and disposed of; all cabinets (even ones not used for food storage) should be opened, thoroughly vacuumed and washed with soapy water. This goes for countertops, too. New products brought in should be frozen a minimum of three days and put into sturdy plastic or glass containers with tight-fitting lids. If IMM still appear, take a vacuum and soapy water to other parts of the house and search out curtains, window treatments, carpets, etc., for white wormy larvae and silken webs. IMM larvae are notorious for roaming great distances in search of food, and it’s not extraordinary to find them in bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms and garages.


Fiction: I wipe my reusable grocery bags after every use to prevent Indianmeal moths.

Fact: One of the top places for IMM to hide is in the seams and corners of reusable bags. Wiping is good, but the best way to ensure nothing is left behind to hatch or reproduce is to wash the bag.


Fiction: Indianmeal moths in dog food won’t hurt my dog.

Fact: IMM eggs, larvae and adults generally aren’t toxic to animals or humans. The main danger from keeping the product is risking infestation through the whole house. Infested products need to be disposed of. Their taste and quality are compromised. Do you want to feed any member of your family a bunch of bugs?


Fiction: I use mothballs in my kitchen cabinets to keep out Indianmeal moths. Grandma swore by them.

Fact: With pheromone glue traps and insect growth regulators (IGRs) readily available, there’s no good reason for mothballs in the kitchen for pest control.

You can reach the McGoverns at jeffreymcgovern@mindspring.com.

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