Meal Moths: The Uninvited Customers In Your Candy Store
When you own a confectionery business, it's important to keep your store clean and your products fresh to ensure the health and safety of your customers. One of the most invasive and difficult situations to deal with in this industry is a meal moth infestation. Unfortunately, by the time you notice some of the signs of an infestation, most of your products will have already been ruined.
When it comes to these pesky invaders, it's the larvae that cause the real problems. The larvae enjoy snacking on a wide range of products including cereal and cereal products, flour, cornmeal, rice, dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, chocolate, candies, and other confections. As you can see, the situation can potentially be very serious for a confectionery business as these food sources are plentiful and unpackaged, self-serve bins are wide open to these insects.
The damage these little critters cause can cost you big time. First off, all of the food items they've contaminated will need to be disposed of. Cleanup efforts will certainly involve some extra work hours for you, your staff or even a cleaning crew. And if the infestation is severe, you may have to close your business during the cleanup efforts.
Here's some important information you can use to help prevent and eliminate a meal moth infestation in your establishment.
Signs of an Infestation
- Appearance of small moths with reddish brown forewings and whitish gray inner bodies.
- Appearance of small whitish caterpillars. (newly hatched larvae)
- Appearance of 1/2 inch long white larvae with a greenish or pinkish hue. (mature larvae)
- Silken web threads in open containers and bins.
- Webbing in tight places of product packaging.
- Tiny holes in product packaging.
Photo courtesy of www.budgetpestcontrolpgh.com
Eliminating an Infestation
- Destroy any products that appear to be contaminated.
- Wash all store fixtures, shelves and storage bins thoroughly with soap and water.
- Vacuum and scrub corners and crevices of fixtures, shelves and storage bins as this is where eggs and pupae tend to hide.
Preventing an Infestation
- Store any susceptible foods in airtight containers or in a refrigerator or freezer when possible.
- If you find an infested product, dispose of it immediately. You may be able to prevent a full-blown infestation.
- Place pheromone traps in areas susceptible to infestations or where infestations have previously occurred.
- Check pheromone traps weekly. If traps are full, re-inspect your product packages for signs of an infestation.
- Clean bins, shelves and fixtures regularly.
- Don't mix old and new shipments of unpackaged products. You could be adding fresh product to an infested product.
- Clean containers before re-filling them with new product.
- Keep storage units dry. Meal moths prefer damp environments to dry ones.
- Meal moths can also breed in rodent baits. Check and discard any infested baits.
Photo courtesy of www.mothtrapsdirect.com