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June 22nd, 2011 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Moth Attack!

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What are these small brown house moths that are taking over my house? I have killed many, eradicated any open food sources and conducted seances, and yet they still are plaguing my house. What are they and what can I do? —Jace

What you’re describing, Jace, are sometimes called “miller moths,” and you have them because you’re just the sort of filthy little man that vermin find irresistible. 

All right, that’s not actually true. But it is true that, once they’re established, the only way you’re going to get rid of them is to become the sort of intolerably clean person that vermin can’t stand. 

The term “miller moth” is a catch-all for moth species that enjoy wallowing in your unrefrigerated foodstuffs while oozing feces, eggs, and sticky web material from their every suppurating orifice. 

According to aptly named Oregon State University entomologist Jeff Miller, the three most likely culprits in Oregon kitchens are the Angoumois grain moth, the Mediterranean flour moth, and—my personal favorite—the Indian meal moth. I had an infestation of Indian meal moths a few years ago (it will come as no surprise to my readers that I, too, am a filthy little man) and managed to get rid of them. 

But make no mistake, once the plague is under way, the time for mercy has passed: There are already moth eggs in everything, regardless of whether the package has actually been opened.

“Purge the home,” says Miller. “Throw out all possible suitable foods and start over after cleaning spill areas, cupboards, and containers.”

If you really can’t bear to toss that bag of free-range, heirloom amaranth groats, you can try sticking them in the freezer for a week. Just don’t blame me when the moths mutate into something even worse and go straight for your eyes.

 
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