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How to Control Flour Mothsflour moth adult

Of the many types of pantry pests which can have feasts on your stored food products, perhaps there is none more common than the flour moth. Known originally as the Mediterranean flour moth, this pesky pantry pest is also called the indian flour moth, mill moth, pantry mouth or simply flour moth.

The flour moth first made its way to the United States in 1889 via trading ships and is found basically in every part of the world. Despite the name indicating that the flour moth has originated from the Mediterranean region, it is believed to have come from somewhere in Central America. No matter what region of the world it is originally from, the flour moth can be found in your cereal, oatmeal or other flour and grain-based foods.

Adult male flour moths are about ¼ to ½ and inch long and are usually colored a pale-looking gray. They have short wingspans of less than and inch which look similar to black zig-zag lines on a fuzzy white background. When the flour moth is at rest, it extends its forelegs, raises it head, and makes a sloping appearance with its body.

Most of the damage of flour moths, however, are done in their larvae stage as once the eggs hatch they are one hungry beast and will devour whatever is around them, which is usually flour since eggs are often laid in bags of flour but they can also be present in a variety of other grains and goods.

If you have an infestation of flour moths, there is a way to put an end to their invasion. Here at Solutions Pest and Lawn, we know just how to get rid of these pesky bugs like the flour moth and can help you to clear your pantry of them once and for all with our helpful advice and professional grade products which deliver satisfying results.

Browse our control products for flour moth control below. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us via phone at 800-479-6583, email at askapro@solutionsstores.com or via live chat on our website.

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How to Get Rid of Flour Moths: Solutions 4 Step Process:

Eliminating a flour moth infestation doesn’t have to be difficult. What’s most important is to have the right approach when implementing a control program. We here at Solutions Pest & Lawn recommend a control approach which includes a combination of exclusion measures, applying control products like safe-to-use insecticides and traps as well as discarding all food infested by the offending pest. Check out our 4 step process below to learn how to properly dispose of invading flour moths in your pantry.


Step One:  Flour moth control starts with a careful inspection of any suspicious areas. Identify the source of the infestation and remove the product immediately from your storage area. While you’re at it, clear out your entire pantry and check every item just to be on the safe side. Check the food for signs of the flour moths themselves or flour moth webbing. Any foods that are open and un-infested should be sealed in plastic containers rather than their original packaging.


Step Two:  Once the infested items have been discarded, we suggest conducting a thorough cleaning of pantry and storage shelves. Vacuum and sweep up areas, sucking up larvae and eggs. Completely clean up surfaces using soap and water and spray disinfectant.


Step Three: Once cleaning and sanitation is complete, pesticide treatment should be applied. Apply a residual insecticide spray. An easy to use aerosol like Novacide Flea & Tick Killer or CB PCO Insect Fogger are excellent options then follow up with an Insect Growth Regulator Gentrol Point Source IGR, which is also available in an aerosol spray and has a crack and crevice tip for easy application.

Step Four: Use pheromone specific traps to catch flour moths if you are weary of using pesticides. Dispose of old unwanted food and seal all cracks and crevices with caulk and paint in your pantry to ensure no areas of harborage are available.


Following these steps carefully and being meticulous in your approach will ensure you that your flour moths problem will be a thing of the past. If you want more details in how to get rid of pantry pests, check out our knowledge base for more easy to use step-by-step how-to guides.


More About the Mediterranean Flour Moth

A mediterranean moth infestation can get out of hand pretty fast if there is no kind of intervention to put a stop to them. A single female mediterranean moth can lay between 100 to as much as 700 eggs in a number of different grain and food types. These eggs are small and white and will attach to whatever food material they are laid in. Once the eggs hatch, white or pink larvae emerge with a dark head and dark spots that cover their bodies.


As soon as come into contact with the air, the larvae will commence spinning cocoons in which they will live for a little over a month. During this time, they will being slowly mature into pupae that are reddish-brown in color. After a little less than two weeks, the pupae emerges as an fully grown adult. This whole process, depending the whether the conditions are warm enough, takes between 5 to 7 weeks.


Like other pantry pests, the larvae are more the problem than the actual adult moths. When they are fully grown, they just become annoying more than anything.


Damage That Flour Moths Can Do

The Mediterranean flour moth can be found on a great number of different stored and dried food products such as flour, grain residues (insect-infected grain, broken kernels, and dust), and various whole grains. Although the flour moth is not as serious a pest as the Indian meal moth and some of the grain infesting beetles, they are notorious for clogging machinery with their web craftings, and at times this can get so bad that they cause grain mill shut-downs. More recently, the use of fumigants has greatly reduced the damage created by the Mediterranean flour moth.


“What Can I Do To Prevent Flour Moths From Reinfesting?”

If you’ve followed our flour moth control steps above and successfully eliminated your pantry pest problem, congratulations. But you’re not completely out of the woods yet. You’re going to want to make sure the flour moth and other similar pantry pests like it don’t make a return to your pantry. How do you do this? We’ll give you some helpful tips:


First off, don’t think that just because you newly bought a pantry food item from the store that there is no problem with it. Pantry pest problems can often happen at grocery stores and supermarkets. They may have been infested when they were put up on the store shelves.


There have been times when we have newly purchased an untampered with and unopened food item that was in a cardboard container and inside a sealed bag that had flour moths and similar bugs crawling around in them. If this ever happens to you, you’re going to want to immediately dispose of the item. The longer that those infested items stay in the house, the longer the bugs have to reproduce and begin to infest other items in your pantry. Seal the item in a plastic bag and throw the item outside in a trash container.


Now that you think you’ve gotten rid of that problem, you want to go to all your other food items in your pantry and check ALL of them for any sign of infestation. If you see more infestations, dispose of those items as well. For the ones that are not infested, you’re going to want to store them properly to lessen the chances of infestation. Just because something is in a cardboard box and not opened does not mean that it’s sealed.


This is because pantry pests like the flour moth have an uncanny ability to get bore through thin plastic bags, cardboard and eat their way through plastic to get to the grains they really want. The two best ways to store different foods from pantry pests like the flour moth is to use a sealed airtight plastic tupperware type container or a glass container. These types of materials will be able to sufficiently keep pantry pests from burrowing through and contaminating your food.


The Flour Moth Life Cycle

Much like other pantry pests, the flour moth experiences a total metamorphosis which means they go from egg, to larvae, to pupa and then finally an adult flour moth.


Usually the big red flag that alerts the homeowner to a flour moth infestation is the presence of an adult flour moth flying around the pantry. At this point this means they have already gone through as a larvae/caterpillar and has contaminated various foods.


The life cycle of the flour moth can be completed within a month or it could take as long as a year long depending on the environment, temperature and what food they’ve eaten. When temperature are warmer, the phases of the life cycle can go more quickly.

The Flour Moth Egg Phase

The egg of a flour moth can range from gray to cream colored and are so tiny they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Surprisingly, a female flour moth can lay 400 eggs during their lifespan.


Flour moths lay their eggs directly on stored food product so the larvae can get right to eating the food around them once the egg has hatched.

The Flour Moth Larvae Phase

The most damaging phase of the life cycle, the flour moth larvae has an insatiable appetite and will eat anything and everything around them. The flour moth larvae looks very similar to a caterpillar.


Flour moth larvae are so hungry for food that they will go so far as burrow their way into soft plastic or cardboard to eat. The larvae will eat and devour as much food as they can withing a span of 40 or 50 days and then will have enough food to stop and pupate.


In the meantime, they would have left behind their feces and saliva and waste all over your stored foods!

The Flour Moth Pupa Phase

During the pupae phase, the flour moth will have found a place for it to spin a cocoon which it will reside in for a period of time before emerging as a winged adult flour moth.  Flour moths usually begin the pupae stage be getting away from food sources to pupate. They usually do this in a crack or seam in the pantry. They may even leave the pantry entirely to pupate.


The flour moth pupae will stay in this transitional phase for about 15 or 20 days.


The Flour Moth Adult Phase

When you spot a flour moth flying around in your pantry, it has reached adulthood. The primary mission of the flour moth once they are adults is to breed and multiply. They will look around for areas to lay their eggs, infesting more and more of your food.


This phase begins with the female moth releasing a pheromone to signal to a male moth that she wants to breed. They will have sex and then she will begin to look for a place to lay her eggs.


Contrary to popular belief, flour moths do not eat anything during the adult phase. It’s all about laying eggs at this point.


Adult flour moths are about half an inch long, and are 5/8 of an inch with wings spread open. Depending upon the kind of pantry moth the color may be different. A flour moth is usually dark or a gritty colored white.


Why Flour Moths Are Such A Big Concern

Flour moths don’t come into your home from out of nowhere, they are usually brought in by you, by way of the grocery stores. When grains are being refined for packaging, there may be flour moth eggs in them that were not cleared out. So every time you go to the grocery store to grab a cereal or grain, there may be a chance that there will be a flour moth egg in there waiting to hatch under the right conditions.


When flour moths have made there way to your pantry, they essentially act like kids in a candy store. Flour moth larvae will locate even the most insignificant pieces of food found on the floor of the pantry to nourish themselves, or they will work their way old boxes of grains and cereal boxes and will go as far as burrow holes into cardboard to satisfy their hunger.


Webs of flour moths can be found all over food and areas of the pantry. If left unchecked, flour moths can very well multiply to large numbers and infest all of our vulnerable pantry foods.


Getting rid of a flour moth infestation can be quite expensive due to the fact that often a homeowner would have to toss out all the food items in the pantry whether old or recently bought, because they all could very well be contaminated.


Flour moths can be a terribly annoying problem and health concern which cannot be ignored. When you have a flour moth outbreak in your pantry, you’ll need to take action before things get out of control.


How Do You Know If You Have Flour Moths?

The surefire evidence that your pantry has been invaded by flour moths is the discover of a flying flour moth moving erratically around when you have turned a light on or opened the pantry door.


As soon as you are alerted this way, it is time to do some serious pantry inspection. Leave no stone unturned. You will have to check all of your pantry foods for the presence of flour moths.


What you should look for is webbing material (which they use to make their cocoons) or flour moth larvae crawling around in your food packaging.  If you don’t find anything in there, focus your inspection by checking the cracks and corners of cupboards and cabinets for webbing.


Flour Moth Control Preparation

Once you have discovered an adult flour moth, you have to get figure out where the flour moth infestation is. This means clearing out your pantry and doing some serious prepwork for pantry moth control


Once you have tracked down the source of the flour moth infestation it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Any processed food product that has flour moths in them needs to be discarded ASAP.


Flour Moth Sanitation

While it may not sound ideal, we recommend that you just throw all your dried food products out to save yourself the time of opening and checking every food item you have. By tossing out the food sources, you make it so the infestation doesn’t continue after your cleanup.

All infested food items or suspicious items should be put into a trash bag, and taken out of your home. Don’t leave it anywhere inside your home or garage or else you’re going to be having flour moth problems which won’t be limited to the kitchen.

If you don’t wish to dump out your entire pantry, you can go through the laborious chore of inspecting every box you have, even if it’s brand new and unopened. Break the seal, open everything up and check.

Clean and Vacuum the Pantry Moths Away

Once the food is all checked and the infested products are discarded, it’s time to bust out out the vacuum and suction up all the cracks, crevices and corners of your cleared out pantry. Make sure to vacuum up every nook and cranny of your pantry.

Get your favorite cleaning products and wash and spray down all the pantry walls, flooring and even the inside of the door hinges and the door jamb since these are also prime places young flour moths can be found.


Once you’ve thoroughly sanitized your pantry, empty out your vacuum bag and take out the trash. You don’t want flour moths living in your vacuum bag.

Flour Moth Prevention


Solutions Pest & Lawn has received numerous phone calls and emails in the past from frustrated homeowners and customers complaining about flour moths making a return despite their cleaning efforts. Our response to them always has been that it may not be your fault. Flour moths primarily come into your home via the grocery store shelf inside products which may have pantry pests.


Unfortunately, you’re unable to control the packaging and factory processes of your favorite cereals and grains. However, as long as you take proactive measures with whatever food you have in your pantry like doing regular checks or moving pantry foods to a hard plastic container rather than their original cardboard container, the return of a flour moth will be something you’ll be able to handle.

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