About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How to prevent moths in bird seed

The food in my seed can is full of worms. Should I throw that seed out. How do I prevent this from happening again?

After seed is harvested it’s brought to mills where it is processed and stored. Along with the seed come eggs that insects have already laid in the field. Birds don't mind the extra protein, but if the eggs hatch they can cause a real mess.

Indian meal moths or pantry moths lay tiny eggs (0.5 mm) in or near potential food plants. When conditions are right, larvae or "tiny whitish caterpillars" hatch, eat, and then spin a tiny silken cocoon.

Besides bird seed, Indian meal moths also may be found in all cereal food products, whole grains, dried fruits, cornmeal, flour, pasta and pet food. They are not related to clothes moths.
Larva

Meal moths can be difficult to eliminate once they've taken up residence, so a good cleaning is a necessary if you’ve experienced and infestation. Throw the contaminated bird seed in a back corner or compost heap and wash all containers thoroughly. The Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing, Michigan store also has the moth pheromone traps. Place one of these non-toxic traps in the garage to inhibit the development of adult moths.

The following are a few suggestions to prevent an Indian Meal Moth re-infestation:
Adult in Resting Position
1) Fresh Seed - In warm weather or if you store your seed inside buy no more than 2-3 weeks supply of seed at a time. And never pour old seed on top on new. Moth eggs are inside seed and are just waiting for the right conditions to hatch.
2) Storage Conditions - Store seed in a cool, dry place, or a freezer to prevent moths from hatching. In the winter, the bird seed can be stored up to 3-4 months in a steel can outdoors or in an unheated garage.
3) Sterilize Seed – You can use heat to kill any larvae and eggs that may be in the food. In a conventional oven, spread seed out on a flat baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Sterilizing your seed will not alter the attractiveness of the seed for your birds.
4) Seed Selection – You are less likely to find eggs in seed that has no shell. When sunflowers seeds have their shells removed it also removes almost all eggs. Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend or Shelled Sunflower seeds rarely carry eggs, but may be re-infested if Indian meal moths are in the home. Nyjer (thistle) and safflower seed are also less likely to be infected initially.

Related Articles:
What is No-Mess Bird Seed? http://bit.ly/tRaefu
How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://bit.ly/rTLSqJ
Seed Storage Cans and WBU Seed Scoops http://bit.ly/uBaSwO
Sunflowers Up-close: The Strange Journey of an American Plant http://bit.ly/uFlz65

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