Indian Meal Moth

Subject: Sudden Strange Flying Moth Infestion
Location: NYC
October 7, 2013 8:14 pm
Hello Mr. Bugman! Over the last week or so, I have been noticing these bugs flying around my apartment. They are slow, but flurry their wings so are quite noticeable. It has gotten much worse over the last few days. Just now I killed about 15 of them. I live in small studio apartment in Manhattan. I even just noticed them in the cabinet above the sink. They are everywhere. I have had carpet beetle problems for years, but those flyers were very different (much smaller) than these. When I kill these, they have a black chalk to them with some red blood, but not much. Attaching photos for you! Please help!
Signature: Flying Fiasco in NYC

Indian Meal Moth
Indian Meal Moth

Dear Flying Fiasco in NYC,
You have Indian Meal Moths.  Go directly to the pantry.  Inspect the corn meal, oatmeal, flour, pancake mix and all other grain and vegetable drygoods.  Check out the stored nuts.  Look at the pet food.  Even tightly sealed containers don’t help if the infestation occurred at the factory or grocery store.

Hello Daniel!
Thank you so much for your reply. After a little investigation on Google, I did suspect this on my own last night. I had a big bag of Chinese herbs that were made up for me about 4 months ago, which have been left untouched. Those were definitely the culprit and disposed of every last food thing in my cabinets. Good thing I am single in the city and didn’t have much food.
My only concern is that it did get into the pet food that was NOT in the cabinet, and this may explain why my pooch has been having diarrhea!
One more thing, a worm or two were found while I was cleaning near the sink (probably from taking the bag down from up top). I managed to find and kill those, but do I need to worry those guys will lay eggs? Or that some of the stray moths will lay eggs in other parts of my apartment? I saw many that were flying into the hallway closet adjacent to the kitchen. Please advise.
THANK YOU AGAIN so much for being so amazing!!!

Hi again G.,
We do not believe ingesting moth larvae will give your dog diarrhea.  The moths will only lay eggs where there is a food supply.  We suspect that many home Pantry Moth infestations begin by bringing home items that have already come into contact with the moths, though once established, the infestations can spread to other items.  Chances are quite good that much of the food that is consumed has eggs or larvae that go unnoticed, but when the items sit on the shelf forgotten for long periods of time, the infestations progress to the point where the adult moths are noticed.  We once opened a long forgotten container of oatmeal and discovered quite a surprise.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Will these flyers get into my closets and lay eggs? Found two more this evening upon arriving home. Near the kitchen…

Hi again G.,
Indian Meal Moths have no interest in your closet or your woolen clothes.

Hooray for that. Now to finally track down the carpet beetles that have been taunting me for 10 yrs. good night and thanks again!!

Update:  24 October 2013
Hi Daniel,
Hope this finds you well. It has been nearly 3 weeks since our first email exchange and although I have removed ALL of the food from my cupboards (which was not much since I am a bachelorette) I am still discovering flying objects mainly in the kitchen and on the walls of my apartment. Could it be leftover larvae that are hatching this late in the game? So frustrating. I’ve thrown away even tea, factory sealed. Do I need to toss my spices? I just don’t know where they could be living at this point…
Any knowledge would be excellent!
Flying Fiasco in NYC

Hi again G.,
They might have infested the spices.  Do you have pets?  You might want to also check that bargain bag of pet food.

I have a dog, yes, but he in no way eats bargain pet food 🙂 I have a small bag of ziplocked food, brand new bag, so it’s definitely not infested. I will throw away the spices. Thank you!

1 thought on “Indian Meal Moth”

  1. I have been buying bird food from a small pet store. I started seeing these larva/ moths/worms in my clost for a week. Cleared out my whole closet and seen nothing. Tonight I got on this site and every story was exactly what I was dealing with. I bought more bird food from this same store last night and then tonight checked all my sealed bird food and peanuts and guess what I found. Moths and larva all in the bags of bird food and worms in both bird bags and peanuts. Thoroughly check and seal all pet food you bring into your house. It was horrible but now that I’ve located the problem I’m hoping it will be resolved. I got rid of every bit of it. Just think I fed my bird these eggs and worms. Makes me sick. Going to the bird store tomorrow with bags and peanuts and demand money back and will never shop there again.


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