Indian Meal Moths

Larvae of the Indian meal moth feed upon grains, grain products, dried fruits, nuts, cereals, and a variety of processed food products. The Indian meal moth is also a common pantry pest.

Indian meal moths are easy to distinguish from other grain pests by the peculiar markings of the forewings; they are reddish brown with a copper luster on the outer two-thirds, but whitish gray on the inner or body ends. The hind wings lack distinctive markings and are more or less uniformly gray. Adults can be seen resting on the grain surface or grain bin walls. The adults fly at night and are attracted to lights.

The eggs of the Indian meal moth are whitish, ovate and very small. Because of their small size, they are difficult to see without the aid of a microscope. Eggs are deposited on the grain surface singularly or in groups of twelve to thirty.

A typical life cycle (egg to adult) is completed in forty to fifty-five days. A potential for seven to nine generations per year exists; however, because of cool temperatures during the winter months fewer generations are usually completed. Under optimal conditions, the entire life cycle can be completed in approximately twenty-eight days.

A mature female lays 100 to 300 eggs on food material, either singularly or in groups of twelve to thirty. Larvae begin to hatch in two to fourteen days, depending on environmental conditions. Newly hatched larvae feed on fine materials within the grain and are small enough to pass through a sixty mesh screen. For this reason, it is difficult to exclude larvae from most packaged foods and grain. Often is the case, the packaging has already been contaminated from the seller.

However, larvae cannot chew through packages, so they must enter through a hole or at the seam. The larval stage lasts from two weeks to one year, and is responsible for stored product losses. Adults live from five to twenty-five days.

Prevention is the best strategy to avoid Indian meal moth problems. Proper sanitation will help minimize the need to use pesticides.

If you notice Indian Meal Moths, call Atlas today.

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