Common northwest pests: Meal moths and pantry pests

(Plodia interpunctella)

Indianmeal Moth. The most common species of meal moths found in the home pantry is the Indianmeal moth. All damage is done by the larvae, which attack a wide range of products, including cereal and cereal products, flour, cornmeal, rice, dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, chocolate, candies, and other confections. When infestations are heavy, mature larvae can often be found in parts of the house far from the original food source because they move quite a distance to pupate.

The Indianmeal moth is a fairly distinct small moth with reddish brown forewings that have a coppery luster on the outer two-thirds and are whitish gray on the inner or body portion. The female moth lays its eggs singly or in groups on food material. Eggs hatch within a few days into small, whitish caterpillars.

Larvae of the Indianmeal moth spin a web as they grow and leave behind silken threads wherever they crawl. When fully grown, the larva is about 1/2-inch long and white with a greenish or pinkish hue. This larva spins a silken cocoon and transforms into a light brown pupa, from which the adult moth later emerges. The Indianmeal moth takes about 6 to 8 weeks to complete egg, larval, and pupal stages during warm weather.

Don't confuse Indianmeal moths with clothes moths, which are smaller and have more hair than pantry moths. For more information visit the Cloths Moths page.


 

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