Small Worm-Like Bugs in the Kitchen

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Kitchens are often home to Indian meal moths and their larvae.

Homeowners often find a variety of insects and pests inside their kitchens. The kitchen is where food, pet food and crumbs are often located, and insects gravitate to these areas. Small worms on kitchen counters and in the corners of cabinets are the larval form of Indian meal moths and houseflies, which are common kitchen pests.



Indian meal moths are bothersome pests of homes. The adult form is a small moth with a wingspan of 5/8 inch and a 3/8 inch long body. The moths are gray with rusty-brown wings. The larvae are creamy-white or yellow caterpillars with a dark-brown head capsule. When the larvae reach maturity, they typically measure 2/3 inch in length. Indian meal moth larvae often wander around kitchen cupboards and on countertops searching for food. Common houseflies reproduce quickly in garbage found in kitchens. Housefly larvae are white maggots that feed on organic matter, such as food debris, and eventually pupate into adult fly form. Common houseflies are considered filth flies, according to the University of Arizona.


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Indian meal moths are found in a variety of stored foods including cereals, grains, sugar and flour. Dried herbs, nuts and fruits are also favorite Indian meal moth meals. Pet food often draws meal moths and becomes infested. According to Colorado State University, Indian meal moths often breed in homemade items containing dried seeds and flowers. Temperature and food sources dictate the rate in which Indian meal moth larvae pupate, which can be as little as four weeks. Houseflies have mouthparts that allow them to turn food into liquid form and lap it up. Flies are scavengers, feeding on bits of food and pet food. These insects can transmit diseases to humans through their contact with food.


Cultural Control

Keeping your home clean and free from food debris helps reduce infestations of Indian meal moths. Vacuum or sweep up all spilled food items and keep your sink free from bits of food. Since Indian meal moths can develop in dog food, keep all pet food stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep foods susceptible to infestations, such as nuts, pet food and cereals, in sealed containers. Keep houseflies outside by placing screens on your windows and keeping all external doors closed. Place your outdoor garbage as far as possible from your kitchen door to keep flies from entering your home.


Chemical Control

Insecticides are not recommended in areas that store food. Pheromone traps are available for the treatment of Indian meal moths that can help identify areas of severe infestation. Insecticides can be used in areas in the kitchen not near food, such as around baseboards, in drawers and around the base of storage bins. Sumithrin, resmethrin and permethrin are all available for this purpose. Cover shelves or line drawers with fresh contact paper before replacing food items or utensils.



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