Indian Meal Moth

Category:

Actual Size: 16 mm wingspan

Characteristics: Outer half to one-third of front wing covered with copper to bronze scales.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Yes

Habitat: Infest coarse flour, whole wheat, cornmeal, and nuts.

Habits:

  • Found more often than any other pantry pest in the nation.
  • Found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Adults do not eat; all damage is done by the larvae.

Indian Meal Moths in Puerto Rico

The Indian meal moth is a global pest and received its common name because it feeds on meal made of Indian corn or maize. The Indian meal moth is easy to identify due to its characteristic wing pattern where the rear half of the wings is distinctly copper or bronze colored. These moths are general feeders upon grain and grain products, dried fruits, seeds, graham crackers, nuts, powdered milk chocolate and candies. Home infestations can be traced back to nearly any food source but commonly originate in dried pet food or bird seed.

Indian Meal Moth Habitat

The Indian meal moth is the most common food-infesting moth found in homes, grocery stores, and any place where dried pet foods are produced or stored. Adults do not eat, and larvae feed constantly on grain products, spinning large amounts of silken webbing over the food sources. Since it prefers the coarser grades of flour, it is the most common insect found in packages of whole wheat, graham flour and cornmeal. Nuts are also a common breeding source, especially the nut caches of squirrels in attics and chimneys.

Indian Meal Moth Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Though Indian meal moths do not bite or pose any serious health risks, they are a nuisance in the home as they infest grain and stored pantry products. The larvae do considerable damage as they contaminate food and deposit silken webbing on food products. The waste from contamination is greater than the amount of food consumed. Flying adults are a common sign of an infestation. Adults are attracted to light and may move to distant rooms in the house away from the infestation. As a result, they are also commonly mistaken for clothing pests.

If an infestation is present in your San Juan home, locate and discard all infested material. Contact your local exterminators for help or advice with Indian meal moths!