Indian Meal Moth

Category:

Actual Size: 16 mm wingspan

Characteristics: Outer half to one-third of front wing covered with copper to bronze scales.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Yes

Habitat: Infests coarse flour, whole wheat, cornmeal, and nuts.

Habits:

  • Found more often than any other pantry pest in the United States.
  • Found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Adults do not eat; all damage is done by their constantly eating larvae.

Indian Meal Moths in Georgia

Adult Indian Meal Moths have dual coloration on their wings. The front half of their wings (closest to their head) is white, light gray, or cream-colored. The back half of their wings is a rusty red, copper, gray, or brown color, usually with gray or black banding. The head and thorax (second body segment of an insect) also have a coppery appearance. The adults are close to 0.5-0.6 inches long which is roughly the size of mature larvae (juveniles). The larvae are yellow or cream-colored with a dark red or brown colored head. The adults, pupae, and eggs of Indian Meal Moths do not feed. The larvae are the pests. The larvae feed on the stored products in which they live. However, this is not what makes them a pest! It is their other activities that can make them a nuisance.

Indian Meal Moth Habitat

Larval Indian Meal Moths are mostly found indoors inside stored goods in the pantry, storage closets, granaries, etc. They have a wide variety of stored goods that they infest, such as oatmeal, dried fruit, seeds, flour, dog food, birdseed, spices, grains, and so forth. The adults can be seen flying around the pantry or home looking for a place to lay their eggs. The adults are attracted to light and may be seen in rooms that have nothing to do with the infestation. The pupae (resting stage between larvae and adult) can be found in locations all around the home since the larvae can migrate before they begin to pupate.

Indian Meal Moth Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

As the larvae crawl through and feed on stored products they spin silk. This silk traps frass (poop), shed exoskeletons (insect skin that must be shed in order to grow), and empty egg cases. This matted mess of silk and debris is what causes these insects to be such pests. They contaminate way more food than they ever actually consume. Indian Meal Moths in the pupal stage can also be considered pests because they can travel to different areas of the home and can be confused with other pests, like clothes moths.

If an infestation is present in your Georgia home, locate and discard all infested material. Contact your local pantry pest control experts for help or advice with Indian meal moths!