Indian Meal Moths


The only way to control Indian meal moths is to locate infested materials and discard it. A thorough cleaning is also needed to get rid of stray larvae, pupae or other food sources.

The Indian meal moth is one of the most commonly reported pests of stored grains in the United States. Larvae of the Indian meal moth feed upon grains, grain products, dried fruits, nuts, cereals, and a variety of processed food products. They are a common pantry pest.

The Indian meal moth has a wing expanse of nearly three-quarters of an inch. It is easy to distinguish from other grain pests by the markings of the forewings; they are reddish brown with a copper luster on the outer two-thirds, but whitish gray on the inner or body ends.

A typical life cycle (egg to adult) is completed in forty to fifty-five days. A potential for seven to nine generations per year exists. Larger larvae are usually yellowish, greenish, or pinkish. Fully grown larvae are 1/2 “ to 5/8 “ in length with a brownish head capsule. Larvae of the meal moth spin a web as they become fully grown and leave behind silken threads wherever they crawl. The webbing is often sufficiently abundant and this is usually what alerts a homeowner or business.

Larvae cannot chew through packages, so they must enter through a hole or opening at the seam. The larval stage lasts from two weeks to one year, and is responsible for primary grain loss. Larvae usually feed on the grain germ. The biggest reduction in value of the grain is the result of contamination by larvae that leave droppings and silken webs in the grain.


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