The Indian Meal Moth - A Homeowners Guide
Kaldari, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpunctella) is sometimes referred to as the Food Moth or the Flour Moth. The Indian Meal Moth larvae (caterpillars) are commonly known as "waxworms". They are a common grain-feeding pest found around the world, feeding on cereals and similar products.
Adult Indian Meal Moths are 8–10 mm in length with a typical wingspan of 16–20 mm. The outer half of their forewings are bronze or dark grey in colour, while the upper half are a yellowy-grey colour, with a dark band between. The Indian Meal Moth larvae are off-white with brown heads. Fully grown Indian Meal Moth larvae are usually about 12 mm long.
The entire life cycle of this species may take one month to 300 days with temperature being the main factor. Female moths lay between 60 and 400 eggs on food. These eggs (see photograph) are usually less than 0.5 mm and not sticky. The eggs hatch in 2 to 14 days. The larval stage can last from 2 to 41 weeks, depending on the temperature.
The Indian Meal Moth larvae can infest a wide range of dry foodstuffs of vegetable origin, such as cereal, bread, pasta, rice, dried fruits and nuts. The food they infest will often seem to be webbed together.
After larvae or moths have been found, it is important to throw out all food sources that are not in very tightly sealed containers. The moths are able to get into surprisingly tight spots, including sealed bags and plastic containers. They are also extremely difficult to eliminate, and can crawl on ceilings and spin their cocoons in rooms other than the kitchen or food cupboards where they hatched. Indian Meal Moth larvae are able to travel significant distances before they pupate. When seeking the source of an infestation, the search should not be limited to the immediate area where pupae are discovered.
MothPrevention.com recommend the use of non-toxic pantry moth traps to inhibit the development of adult Indian Meal Moths and precipitate their eradication. See our range of Food Moth Products suitable for use in the kitchen.
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