Three Things You May Not Know about Indian Meal Moths

The Indian Meal Moth
The Indian Meal Moth

Indian meal moths are common pantry pests. About 5/8 inch long, these small moths have creamy white wings that are banded with colorful reddish-copper stripes. Their appetite for grains and dried foods makes Indian meal moths a persistent problem in home kitchens and Monmouth County, New Jersey commercial kitchens, grocery stores and food storage facilities.

1. What They Eat

Named for their appetite for corn meal, Indian meal moths feed on many dried foods, including grains, seeds, fruits, nuts, bird seed, dog food, powdered milk, herbs, spices, dried red peppers, chocolate and candy. Infestations contaminate food, making it inedible.

The colorful adult moths are not themselves harmful. Adults live only about one week, just long enough to mate and lay their eggs on dried foods. It is the hatched larvae — tiny brown-headed white caterpillars — that are considered pantry pests.

2. Variable Life Cycle

Indian meal moth larvae spend their days hungrily munching on flour, cereals, pet food and other dried foods stored in your kitchen cupboards. They contaminate food with their silky webbing and gritty waste.

Depending on the temperature, larvae may spend several weeks in warm weather to several months in cool weather feeding before pupating. When ready to pupate, caterpillars spin loose cocoons in nearby corners, emerging as adult moths in several weeks.

3. Prevention Tips

Keep dried foods in tightly sealed containers and inspect for signs of Indian meal moth infestation before using. Discard any infested foods in outdoor trash receptacles. Thoroughly vacuum infested cupboards and wash with soap and water before returning food to shelves.

Call Allison Pest Control today to protect your home or business from these voracious pantry pests.