Indian moth larvae

I have been breeding mealworms for several years and always have microwaved the wheat bran prior to letting my beetles lay eggs in it. I recently moved my mealworm Farm into the garage and decided I didn't need to microwave the wheat bran anymore because I thought the moths could just fly away. I had no idea that they had this life stage i.e. tiny white worms. Now I am finding the larvae of these moths in the wheat bran, where all of my eggs and tiny baby mealworms are (all together). Will these larvae eat the mealworm eggs and/or baby mealworms, disturbing their growth? Or, will they just eat the potatoes and wheat bran along with the mealworm babies? If I need to get them out of each drawer, how would I do that and not kill the eggs and baby mealworms?

I will NEVER not microwave the wheat bran again!

Thank you for ANY advice anyone may have!



  • Hi Swbertrand1, - I do not believe the moth larvae will want to eat the mealworms. Although if a dry habitat maybe would try their luck with immobile pre-pupation/pupating mealworms.

    How to get rid of the moth is complicated by the fact that anything detrimental to them is likely bad for mealworm larvae too. The dynamic is whether consider killing the moth larvae, stopping ovipositor (egg laying), damage larval emergence, and the issue of how long (& how severe) the moth population can be decreased.

    My best suggestion for the current batch of moth larvae and mealworm larvae is to skip introducing any compound directly into the entire expanse of wheat bran substrate. This is to avoid problems you might find affecting the mealworms too.

    What I suggest is taking “sweet” orange (C. Sinensis, not “bitter” orange) peel and using that instead of things more difficult to control placement of like cedar wood oil and clove oil/buds, which are also more expensive.

    I would rig a mesh directly over a part of the grow bin so that can place dry/drying (no longer moist) Citrus sinensis orange peels onto. This will interfere with subsequent moth oviposition by being repellant to the moths and reduce their population.

    Although some kinds of larvae may find the following different plants an attractant I am here going to assume your kind of moth will find it repellant. What I would do to take advantage of this is to also introduce a repellant plant into one side of the bran grow bin, with the idea being that larvae (moth and most likely also mealworm) will move away from that sector to where can get away.

    Please consider this experimental in that you do not want to lose all your mealworm colony. So you should take out only a part of the wheat bran and put it in a separate container to work with.

    Anyway here is the way I think you can separate the moth contaminated substrate into manageable size and then perform successive repellant treatments to knock down the moth larval population while waiting for interference with their oviposition to get their next generation reduced. The mealworm larvae will possibly also move away from the repellant.

    O.K. For repelling the larvae from one side to the other you can try spearmint place directly in among the wheat bran for three (3) hours. Remember you want to I be able to take it back out to look out for mealworms so don’t use spearmint dust or let it churn to dust. Or, you can turmeric root cut in conservable pieces (to retrieve, so not ground turmeric) and place it directly amount the wheat bran for two (2) hours. These times are extrapolated from a wider ranging research showing their respective repellence was less at other exposure times; and I believe neither is so long that it can completely destroy all your mealworm larvae/eggs.

    The turmeric should be much more effective than the spearmint and of course you won’t probably get 100% repellant herding over then once you remove that wheat bran segment from the rest can repeat the timed repellant introduction again at another time; where you treat half your substrate to drive them over and then after separate sectors (keep them from wandering back). You can also switch between giving the larvae periods of spearmint and other times turmeric.

    Cedar wood oil is even more repellant to get moth larvae moving away. It is also much more toxic to larvae so cedar oil poses more challenges not damaging your mealworms. I guess you could try a drop of cedar wood oil place atop something impermeable (bottle cap/foil/etc.) and sit that on top of the wheat bran (not in contact with bran) to see if the larvae are driven off by the smell. Pieces of cedar wood laid in might be another repellant you can pull back out, but it’s oil is concentrated and actual cedar wood probably quite weak against larvae.

    I’ve heard bay leaves are also moth repellant, if that is all you can find at first you might try whole bay leaves - don’t want pieces that will leave leaf powder when done either. I don’t know how many hours to leave it in the sector of wheat bran trying to drive moth larvae out of, so will suggest three (3) hours would be practical.

    The above is ideally a way to decrease the moth population in a reasonable time (2 months?) without losing the mealworm eggs already in there. You can always sift out the mealworm larvae and throw out the contaminated wheat bran & start up with fresh egg laying adult beetles.

    Still you have to consider the moths have made a niche inside your out-building. Vacuum up any spilled wheat bran and/or loose potential feed; if used shelves to store the feed vacuum there too just in case.

    Hope this is relevant. I am off-line a lot nowadays so if you have any success post it for Forum readers.

    Unedited, pardon any mistakes

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