Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpuctella)
Quick Look Pest Stats
Color: Copper red coloring on wings-outer part
Shape: Elongated oval
Region: Found throughout the U.S.
Alternative common names are weevil moth, pantry moth, flour moth or grain moth.
Pupation on soup can
The Indian meal moth is a very common household pest, feeding principally on stored food products. In fact, it has been called the most important pest of stored products commonly found in American homes or grocery stores. The larvae are general feeders and can be found in grain products, seeds, dried fruit, dog food, and spices.
Indian meal moths like to feed on dried fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, chocolate, candies, bird seed, dog food, powdered milk, dried red peppers and candy.
A life cycle can be completed in 27 to 305 days. A single female can lay up to 400 eggs after mating. The mating and laying of eggs occurs about three days after adult emergence. The eggs can be laid singly or in clusters. Upon hatching, the larvae begin to disperse and within a few hours can establish themselves in a food source. The larvae of this species have the ability to bite through plastic and cardboard; thus, even sealed containers may be infested. Once found, the moths are difficult to eradicate.
There are five to seven larval instars. Their color is usually off-white, but has been observed to be pink, brown or almost greenish, depending on the food source. The mature larvae are about 1/2 inch in length. They have five pairs of well-developed prolegs that help them move considerable distances to pupate. The larvae pupate either in a silken cocoon or unprotected. The pupae are 1/4 to 2/5 inch long and are pale brown in color. Pupation takes place away from the infested material. In fact, late instar larvae can travel such distances that they are often mistaken for clothing pests. Within the pantry, small larvae often climb to other shelves before pupating. This misleads people trying to find the source of the infestation.
Indian meal moths infest foods and can contaminate food products.
When purchasing food products from grocery stores, inspect your purchases carefully. Look for any damaged packaging or seals broken, that would give easy access to pests. Also look for any larvae or pupae that may be on products.
Dried food products should be inspected thoroughly for signs of Indian meal moth infestations. Discard infested foods in outdoor trash bins. Clean infested cupboards thoroughly with a vacuum and soap and water. Store food in sealed containers.