Indian Meal Moths

The Indian meal moth is the most common household moth that can reproduce in our homes. It develops as a pest of various foods commonly found in pantries. The larvae can seriously damage susceptible food items and the adult moths can become annoying as they fly through the home. They are often introduced to our homes in pet food and birdseed, once introduced into your home they are very difficult to eliminate.

Indian Meal Moths

Indian meal moth

Size: 16-20mm

Color: Wings are pale gray to tan on the front third and reddish-brown to copper luster on the back two-thirds.

Description: The Indian Meal Moth was given its name by an early American entomologist who found it feeding on cornmeal (Indian meal).  It is the most commonly encountered pest of stored products in Toronto and the GTA.

Adult Indian Meal Moths live only one or two weeks and are chiefly night fliers.  During the day they prefer to rest in poorly lighted areas.  If disturbed they fly in an irregular zigzag pattern.  Larvae are about 1/2 inch (16mm) long, dirty white in colour with a yellowish brown to reddish brown head.  Usually found on or near the infested grain or grain products.

The larvae are surface feeders and generally attack grain and grain products.  They may feed on dried fruits, seeds, nuts, graham crackers, powered milk, biscuits, chocolate, dry pet food, and bird seed. They prefer courser grades of flour such as whole wheat, graham flour and cornmeal.

The adult female lays 100-400 eggs, singly or in small groups, on or near the larval food source during a period of 1-18 days.  Upon hatching, the larva establishes itself in a crevice of the food material.  It feeds in or near a tunnel-like case it has webbed together of silk.  The larval period lasts 13-288 days depending on temperature and food availability.  When ready to pupate it leaves the food source and pupates into the adult moth pictured above.  There are usually 4-6 generations per year, with the life cycle typically requiring 25-305 days.

Adult Indian Meal Moths cause no damage and are not harmful to humans.

Control of this pest will require disposal of all potential food sources and an insecticide application.  All kitchen cupboards will need to be emptied prior to service.  This treatment will require all occupants and pets to vacate the residence for a minimum of 4 hours, ask your service technician for complete details.