A reader recently reached out to us about some worm-like organisms she found in her kitchen. She first discovered a couple of the creatures on a roll of paper towels. Since then she has seen them on the table, near the sink, and on a plant. A few that she noticed were hanging down from the corner of the table on what appeared to be some sort of webbing. This is the photograph she sent us:
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The specimen in question is small, has a light brown body, and a dark brown head. We think our reader is probably dealing with pantry moth larvae, which are also known as Indian Meal Moth larvae!
Although Indian Meal Moth larvae are typically light pink or cream colored, we still think what our reader has discovered sounds like the work of these larvae. Indian Meal Moth larvae feed on a wide variety of dried food items found in a kitchen and pantry. Some of these items include nuts, birdseed, dried grains, dried fruit, cereals, and flours. Adult Indian Meal Moths lay their eggs in the crevices of food packaging, or in the food itself. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat and leave a white webbing behind as evidence. When the larvae are ready to pupate and mature into moths, they crawl onto walls and ceilings and spin web-like cocoons.
Getting rid of Indian Meal Moth Larvae can be a difficult task. Our reader should begin by removing and inspecting all dried food items for signs of the larvae. She should dispose of anything that looks disturbed immediately. She can also freeze everything for four days to kill unseen larvae and eggs. In addition, she should clean her kitchen counters and cabinets with a disinfectant and vacuum all cracks and crevices to make sure there is nothing left behind. To prevent future infestations, she can store her dried food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator!
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To wrap up, one of our reader discovered small worms all over her kitchen. We believe these are Indian Meal Moth larvae that are getting ready to pupate and mature into moths.