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Are there Mealworms in My Stored Food?

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From snacks at the office to pantry supplies at a restaurant, mealworms will infest any space with food. If you notice holes on food packaging, “dust” on packaging, or you’ve seen these pesky pests, there’s a chance you’re dealing with a mealworm infestation.

Finding mealworms in a food container is far from pleasant. A mealworm infestation is usually the result of poor sanitation. It’s important to deal with an infestation in your business as soon as possible before these pests spread and contaminate more food.

What Are Mealworms?

People often treat Mealworms as if they are a pest species on their own. However, they are actually the larval form of many different species. The most common type of mealworm is the yellow mealworm, which is the larval form of the mealworm beetle. The mealworm beetle is a species of the darkling beetle.

The mealworm life cycle represents one of the four stages that these beetles - and many insects - go through before they become adults. The full cycle includes egg, larva (mealworm), pupa and adult (beetle). Mealworms spend 8-10 weeks growing and molting before they enter the pupa stage. 

Where Do Mealworms Come From?

Beetles may have laid eggs on or near your food so that their young would have an available meal once they hatch. Adult beetles are nocturnal and prefer warm, dark, humid areas. If you have a humid basement or store area, that is likely to be the source of your problem. 

Mealworms are especially fond of older, rotted and moldy foods. Check the back of your cupboards for neglected or spoiled food that may have become a breeding ground for these pests.

Signs of Mealworms in Food

Mealworms are persistent pests that are often prevalent in restaurant pantries and office kitchens. They can hitch rides into your business through cardboard boxes, in stored dog food, or simply through an open door. They are often found in cereal, flour, baking products, and other dry foods and grains. There are several signs that you have a mealworm infestation in your stored food, including:

  • Small holes in packaging. Mealworms leave behind bite marks and small holes in packaging of your stored, dry goods.
  • “Dust” on packaging. When mealworms eat through packaging, they often produce a distinctive dry, paper-like waste called frass. Their waste can often be found outside and inside food containers.
  • You’ve seen them. This is the most obvious sign of a mealworm infestation. Mealworms are yellow-brown, segmented, and are typically about ⅛” long. If you’ve seen a couple, then there’s a good chance you have a bigger problem.

How to Get Rid of Mealworms

The ideal spot for mealworms is dark, humid, and warm. A restaurant or office pantry is a perfect place for mealworms to hang out. In most cases, a mealworm infestation can be cleared up relatively easily. Rid your stored food of an infestation with the following tips:

  • Remove the mealworms you can see. It may be easiest to vacuum up the mealworms if there are many of them. If there are only a few, sweep them up. Put the mealworms you sweep up into a sealed bag and throw them out.
  • Heat or cool your stored food. Mealworms like cereal, grains, and other dry goods. Collect all mealworm food sources and put them in an oven that has been heated to approximately 150° Fahrenheit. You can also put the mealworm food in a freezer for at least four days. Whether you froze or heated it, seal the food before discarding it.
  • Clean the area. Once the food is thrown out, clean and dust the previously infested area.
  • Call the professionals. If you’ve tried the tips from above and you can’t seem to rid your space of mealworms, it may be time to get in touch with the professionals. Not only can the expert team at Assured Environments get rid of your mealworm infestation, we can find the root of the problem and keep them out once and for all!

How to Prevent Mealworms 

The best way to deal with a mealworm infestation is to prevent one in the first place. Once your business is pest-free, take the following measures to keep mealworms out:

  • Store all food in airtight containers. Including pet food. 
  • Rotate food regularly. Don’t let supplies sit on shelves for too long.
  • Remove possible exterior mealworm shelters like fallen leaves, compost, or old vegetation.
  • Keep your space clean. It’s especially important to keep dark, humid, and warm spaces neat. Thoroughly sanitize basements, warehouses, attics, and pantries, for example.

Keep Mealworms Away

If you’re struggling to get your pest problem under control, get in touch with Assured Environments today! We provide the best pest management services throughout New York and New Jersey. We can rid your space of mealworms and other unpleasant pests that can compromise your business.

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