With creamy white wings banded with colorful stripes of copper, red, tan and charcoal gray, Indian meal moths are an attractive insect. But don’t let their appearance fool you, finding these small moths fluttering about your Monmouth County or Ocean County, NJ kitchen or garage means trouble. One of the most common home pantry pests in New Jersey, Indian meal moths are also a significant commercial pest, ruining huge quantities of stored grains and dry food products every year.
Named for their taste for corn meal, Indian meal moths feed on dried plant products of all kinds, including grains, flour, cereal, beans, crackers, nuts, birdseed, dry pet food, grass seed, spices and chocolate. They also have a preference for raisins and other dried fruit and may infest non-food plant items such as dried flowers and potpourri. While not harmful to humans, Indian meal moths render food inedible by laying their eggs in stored food.
The first sign of infestation is usually discovery of the silken webs larvae spin on the surface of food products as they feed. A larval infestation can cover food surfaces with visible mats of webbing and excrement. As they grow, larvae may infest nearby food products. Caterpillars cannot chew through bags or boxes but are tiny enough to slip through any small holes or gaps.
When an infestation is discovered, all of the food in the container should be disposed of immediately, not just the obviously contaminated portion. You can help prevent Indian meal moth infestations by using food before expiration dates and carefully inspecting food before it is used. Allison Pest Control’s home pest protection plans provide comprehensive coverage against a wide variety of home pests, including Indian meal moths.