At any given house, there will almost always be pests. Most of these are insects and while some of them are not really harmful to humans, having anything that is crawling and in large numbers isn’t really something you’d want to see first thing in the morning. Dirty and unkempt houses, in particular, are very much a haven for creepy crawlies who want nothing more than to just grub and get fat on your stash of food. Countless housewives have screamed their hearts out at opening a cupboard only to see an insect staring at them in the face, or perhaps opening a carton of cereal or food only to see little insects or worms wriggling in abandon at their bed of food. To say that it makes a very bad start of your day is an understatement indeed.
One of the most common wrigglies you will most likely find in your cupboards amidst cereals and flour is the meal worm. Meal worms are not really worms. They are the larval form of the meal worm beetle, and three types have been identified: the lesser meal worm, the yellow meal worm, and the dark meal worm. Not all types can be present in one area though. Like all insects of their kind, the meal worm beetle go through four stages of life: the egg, the larva, the pupa, and the adult. The larva form is what you know as the pests in your house. While in this form, the insect looks like a worm that endures several molts. Before a molt, the insect is white in color before turning brownish-yellow as their outer ridges begin to harden.
Meal worms are also part of nature’s clean up crew. In the wild, they are responsible for scavenging rotting debris, bird carcasses, and even animal droppings. If you have ever lived in a farm, you will usually find meal worms burrowing under logs and neglected, littered corners of the barn or the grain facilities, mainly munching on their surroundings.
Ways to Get Rid of Meal Worms
The main reason why meals worms are such a pest is because of their fondness to your cereal and baking products, and they do this in groups. It is not unusual to one day open your flour bin to see hundreds of them wriggling in unified joy. They also tend to love dark places and are active around the clock, never resting, so they have usually have plenty of time to damage insulation, which happens to be one of their favorite meals. Aside from that, their diet also ranges to carpets, clothing, and artificial plants.
Meal worms are prolific insects. Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of them.
- Keep your pantry clean and dry. Meal worm beetles lay their eggs in dirty places, preferably a dirty pantry. The reason for this is that dirty pantries are a very good source of food for them to scavenge. Like ants, meal worms thrive on bits and pieces of scraps, even decaying matter.
Wipe down whatever spillage your pantry will have. Their favorite food are usually grain-based products such as cereal or crackers so if you have those scattered around, immediately sweep them or clean them up. Wet or moist atmosphere is also conducive to the growth of most of the household pests as opposed to hot or humid environment so be sure to at least keep the place comfortably dry.
- Throw away all food that are contaminated by the meal worms. At any given time, with the right incubation condition, a meal worm beetle can lay from between 70 to 100 eggs that ultimately hatch into larvae in one week. You can probably imagine the number of meal worms that can populate your food stash if left unchecked. It might seem wasteful but if one pack of cereal has several meal worms, chances are the others beside it has them as well so throw them out; meal worms are never solitary. Once you’ve disposed of the contaminated foods, don’t stop there. Spray the entire area with disinfectant, clean and dry, and then replace the food.
- Put all your food in airtight plastic containers. Tupperwares and plastic containers are perfect holders for your food. They protect it as well as prevent pests and insects from eating through them. You might wonder if storage bags are also okay; they’re not. Meal worms can simply eat through the bags. Make sure that the plastic containers are sealed tight. Any cracks or openings, no matter how small, are valid entry points for the worms. Remember, they’re small and can get in into small openings given the chance.
Also, if you will not be using some dried foods for a while, put them in your freezer. Two things are accomplished by this: one, meal worms will not be able to get to them, and two, the cold will kill those that are already in there that you haven’t found yet.
- Hire an exterminator. A professional exterminator will be able to get rid of any pest infestation in your house, including meal worms. They will be able to do a better job of eradicating the pest problem since they have been trained for just the job and they have much more experience dealing with these insects than you. They also have the necessary materials to get the job done.
- Gather the meal worms and sell them. There is one big advantage to meal worms: they are typically used as food source for pet reptiles and birds. They are also commonly used as fishing bait, so don’t be surprised if you see meal worms in your favorite pet shop.Knowing that they are prized as feeds, you can gather all the meal worms that you have and then sell them for a sum, either to your friends or to other people. Try putting up an ad on the Internet about it. More often than not, you will have buyers interested in them. In this way, you can get rid of them while making some extra side money to boot.
The good thing about meal worms that get born and hatch in the house is that they’re not harmful to you or make you sick, so don’t panic if you just found out that the food you ate have them. In fact, in some countries, meal worms are eaten just like any other delicacy. Still, if you really feel that you need to get rid of them (and you won’t be faulted for this), then the above tips should help a lot.
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