Indian-Meal Moth

Indian-Meal Moth

Indian-Meal-Moth
  • Common Name(s): Indian Meal Moth
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Pyralidae
  • Common Species: Plodia interpunctella
  • Commonly Confused With: Other Moths and/or Butterflies

Characteristics

How to Identify?
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.

Habitat

Where do they live?
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, bird seed, 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.

Food Source

What do they eat?
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.

Activity

What do they do?
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.

Fun Fact

The name Indian Meal Moth actually originated in the United States. The moths were found infesting ground up cornmeal made from maize [‘Indian corn’] (Fasulo & Knox, 2018).

Source(s)

Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist

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