The Indianmeal Moth got its common name due to being found feeding on cornmeal. It is probably the most important and most commonly encountered Stored Product Pest found in the home and in grocery stores in the United States. Of Old World origin, it is now found worldwide.
Indianmeal Moth Recognition
Adult Indianmeal Moths are about 3/4” wide from wing tip to wing tip, wings are pale gray with reddish brown or coppery luster in certain lighting. Mature larvae are about 1/2” long, usually dirty white in color, but may vary to a brownish or greenish color depending on its food source.
Indianmeal Moth Biology
The female Indianmeal Moths will lay between 100-400 eggs on the food source during a 1-18 day period. Upon hatching, the Indianmeal Moth larva establishes itself in a crevice of the food material. The larval period lasts 1-10 months depending on temperature and food availability. There are usually 4-6 generations per year, with the life cycle (egg to egg) typically requiring 1-5 months.
The adult Indianmeal Moths cause no damage to food. The larvae cause considerable damage by crawling through the food source, leaving behind silken threads and webbing, frass (excrement), and larval casings. Pantry Moths will attack a broad variety of foods, from grain products, flour, cereals, bread, etc., to dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, candies, powdered milk and any dry pet food.
Adult Indianmeal Moths are attracted to light and are commonly found around windows and indoor light fixtures.
Indianmeal Moth Control
Achieving control of Indianmeal Moths, as with any type of Stored Product Pest, requires a multi-step process. Because Stored Product Pests are so invasive, every step is very important.
1.) Food Source Removal: This consists of disposal of all infested foods or products, as well as any opened containers of grains, flour, dried foods and/or dry pet foods. This is typically the single most expensive step of the control process, but also one of the most important.
2.) Good Sanitation: Thoroughly vacuuming out all food and pantry cabinets is vital in the control of Indianmeal Moths. Removing all containers from cabinets and carefully cleaning the corners, cracks and crevices in food cabinets and pantries is the best way to ensure proper treatment of infested areas by your pest control technician. Make sure to dispose of the used vacuum bag immediately after cleaning infested areas to prevent spreading the infestation.
3.) Treatment: Appropriate treatment by a trained and licensed pest control operator is almost always necessary to eliminate the remaining eggs and larvae of the Indianmeal Moths.
4.) Prevention: To help prevent future infestation, it is important to carefully inspect any incoming food sources for signs of Indianmeal Moths or other Stored Product Pests. Any flour, grains, seeds or dried foods that are opened or in paper/cardboard containers should be kept in airtight glass or Tupperware containers. Any foods that are still in unopened plastic bags or sealed plastic containers are fine until opened.