moths

Indian Meal Moth Control: Protect Your Home

Appearance

What Do Indian Meal Moths Look Like?
indian meal moth
Size: Fully grown larvae range in size from 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch in length. Adult moths have an average wingspan of 5/8 of an inch.

Color: Typically off-white, Indian meal moth larvae may also appear pink, brown, or greenish in color. Adults appear whitish-gray while the edges of their wings are covered with copper or bronze scales.

Characteristics: The unique wing coloration of adult Indian meal moths is the primary distinguishing factor of the pest.

Facts

  • Distribution: The Indian meal moth, also sometimes denoted as Indianmeal moth, is a notable stored-product pest. Very common throughout the United States, with a distinct presence in the Mid-Atlantic region, the pests primarily infest homes and grocery stores.
  • Damage: The larval stage is responsible for damage inflicted on foodstuffs. Indian meal moths frequently travel into homes in infested bags of dried pet food and bird seed.

Food

What Do Indian Meal Moths Eat?

  • Stored food
  • Ground grains
  • Cereal products
  • Dried herbs
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts
  • Pet foods
  • Dried flowers
  • Seeds

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

Biology

Eggs
Female Indian meal moths deposit eggs directly onto grains or similar foodstuffs. They lay 100 to 300 eggs at a time, and larvae begin to hatch as early as 2 days to 2 weeks after.

Larvae
The larvae then feed on the fine materials within the grain. After anywhere from six to eight weeks, pupation begins. Adults emerge between 15 and 20 days later.

moth larvae picture
Indian Meal Moth Larvae

The entire life cycle completes within 40 to 55 days, and 7 to 9 generations occur in a single year.

Life Span
Adults live anywhere from 5 to 25 days.

Detection

  • Mold – Look for accumulated mold in potentially infested food sources, as the presence of Indian meal moths can result in an increased potential for water absorption.
  • Silky webs – The existence of silken webs in grains and other stored products indicates an Indian meal moth infestation.
  • Feces – May notice accumulations of fecal matter, cast skins, and egg shells in the silken webbing.

Problems Caused by Indian Meal Moths

Though the pests neither spread disease nor affect the structural integrity of homes in any way, Indian meal moths cause significant damages to stored foods. Both in homes and grocery stores, the insects render a costly amount of product unfit for consumption by humans and pets alike.

Signs of Infestation

Small and hard to spot, larvae nevertheless leave behind telling signs that alert homeowners and grocers to their presence.

Food Weight Change
To grow and develop, Indian meal moth larvae feed on seed germ, which often results in a noticeable reduction in the dry weight of the food product.

Webs
The most telling sign of an Indian meal moth infestation is the existence of silken webs in stored grains. Though the webbing may be hard to detect on its own, the material accumulates feces, cast skins, and egg shells, which makes it easier to recognize.

Flight
In addition, adult moths flying around should alert homeowners to an infestation.

Prevention Tips

Proper sanitation is key to preventing infestations of Indian meal moths.

  • Spills – Always clean up spills and crumbs, and maintain the cleanliness of homes and buildings.
  • Food containers – Specifically target containers in which grains and similar items are stored by wiping them clean between uses.
  • Inspect food – Additionally, examining food products thoroughly before bringing them into the home can help prevent accidental incursions.
  • Seal – Storing dried food in airtight containers is also very effective.

Tips for Removal from Home

Remove Infested Food
Indian meal moths cannot survive in temperatures colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, homeowners maintain the option of throwing out infested foodstuffs or freezing them for a few days to kill the pests.

Either way, infested items should be thrown out.

Call an Expert
If infestations are large and out of hand, contacting a pest control professional to apply insecticides is recommended.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

Kitchens
Is your home a haven for Indian meal moths? These aggravating pests can be found indoors and out, and there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that effective control methods are readily available. The bad? The root of the problem may be your own habits, especially in the kitchen.

“With Indian meal moths, the trick is always to track down the source,” says Jennifer Brumfield, B.C.E. “More specifically, we’re looking for their food source.” Brumfield breaks down some common offenders based on experience in dozens of homes.

Overloaded pantries

  • Spilled flour
  • Open packages of cookies or crackers in the back of the shelf

Expired food items

  • Old candy stowed away and forgotten in drawers
  • Leftover holiday treats, like dried fruits or chocolates

Treats “hidden away for later” by children and pets

“Typically, we need to inspect more than just the kitchen to find the source of the problem,” Brumfield notes – especially when kids or pets are a factor. If you’re having tough pest problems that you can’t seem to fix, contact Western. We don’t give up until we find the source.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857