Indian Meal Moth

Indian Meal Moth adults have a 5/8-inch wing spread. The wings are a burnished copper, almost purple color with a broad gray band near where they attach to the body. The larva are small caterpillars with distinct legs on the first three body segments and four pairs of prolegs (false legs) on the abdomen.

Indian Meal Moths are one of the most common stored product pests found in homes and food processing facilities as well as grain storage and processing plants. The larvae prefer to feed on coarsely ground flour and meal, but are also commonly found feeding on whole grains, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, beans, crackers, biscuits, dry pet food, bird seed and red peppers. The larvae produce a silk webbing over the surface of the materials upon which they are feeding that is filled with their frass (feces). The damage caused by this insect’s feeding is compounded by the presence of this repulsive mat.

These insects usually overwinter as larvae. The adult females lay their eggs at night on the larval food, producing as many as 400 in 18 days. The mature larvae often move away from the infested materials to pupate in secluded areas. There are usually 4 to 6 generations per year depending on food supply and temperature conditions.

Effective Indian Meal Moth control depends upon locating and removing the infested food material. Pheromone traps can be utilized to help capture the adult males before they have a chance to mate. Determined vigilance is critical to success.