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Indian Meal Moth

Danger/Damage

Indian meal moths can infest a wide variety of available food sources, including but not limited to cereals, dried fruits, seeds, crackers, nuts, dog food, powdered milk, chocolate, candies, etc. rendering them unfit for future use. The larvae are voracious eaters. The damage incurred by these pests is due to contact, fecal debris, or webbing. Indian meal moths are a prolific pest, and they pose a threat to food stores worldwide.


Did you know?

The Indian meal moth was named by an American Entomologist in the 19th Century, who noted it feeding on cornmeal, known as an Indian meal. Despite its name, the ancestry of these moths is still uncertain, though it is suspected to be of Old World origin. Presently, they are the most common food-infesting pest globally, and specimens have been observed on nearly every continent.


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Adults have a wingspan of about 5/8-3/4 inch (16-20 mm). Up to one-half of the forewings are covered with bronze or copper-colored scales. The head and thorax of the moth appear gray with a brown/ coppery posterior. The mature larva is normally 1/2 inch in length and typically sport a dirty white coloration. However, their colors can vary from brown, green, or even pink depending on their food sources.


Indian meal moths frequent a wide variety of stored goods and are particularly fond of dried fruit. Females lay their eggs on any viable commodity; however, they do show some preference towards products that already contain webbing from past infestations or towards foods in which the adults themselves developed as larva. These larvae tend to be surface feeders and generally produce a considerable amount of webbing throughout the infested part of the material in which they harbor. Although coarser grades of flour such as cornmeal, whole wheat, and graham flour are optimal. Evidence of breeding in shelled and ear corn has been noted. Adults typically live for about six days and are attracted to light. Outdoor reservoirs of these moths can be found near food and feed facilities and may account for occasional re-infestation.


A life cycle (egg to egg) can take anywhere from 25 to 305 days to be completed. A single female can lay up to 400 eggs after mating and can begin oviposition in as little as 24 hours after emergence. The laying of eggs typically takes place at night when the risk of predation is low. Eggs are laid singly or in small clusters and are generally deposited near or directly on the larval food source. Larvae hatch within 2 to 14 days and will disperse upon emergence, establishing themselves inside a food source within a few hours. The larval stage can last from 13-288 days depending on temperature and food availability. When a larva is sufficiently developed to pupate, it will leave its food source in search of a suitable anchoring site; typically, crevices or wall/ceiling junctions. Upon emergence, adult females will move to a surface above a viable food source to release pheromones and attract mates. Mating typically occurs around dusk and takes place on walls, pallets, or similar structures.


  1. The Indian meal moth was named by an American Entomologist who observed them feeding on cornmeal, also known as an Indian meal at the time of discovery.
  2. Indian meal moths are often mistaken for clothing moths in homes. In particular when larvae wander about looking for pupation sites or when adults are observed in flight.
  3. Indian meal moths can reside in a home for months before they are numerous enough to be noticed.
  4. In homes, Indian meal moths are typically brought in on infested pet foods or birdseed.
  5. Adult Indian meal moths do not damage food products.

Are ticks hazardous to humans?

Yes. Blacklegged ticks are one of the most well-known pests related to Lyme disease–an illness that can be debilitating if not diagnosed in the early stages.

What are the signs of a black-legged tick infestation?

The most common sign of a black-legged tick problem is spotting one in your yard, on your body, or on your pet.

When are ticks most common?

Ticks are most common during the spring/summer months as that is when people begin to spend more time outdoors.

How to avoid black-legged tick bites?

While walking through forests and wooded areas, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt of light color to protect against bites and make ticks easier to see and remove before they can attach and feed.

  1. Wear closed footwear and tuck your pants into your socks.
  2. Use a tick repellent with DEET, following the directions.
  3. Put a tick and flea collar on your pet and check them for ticks often.

What to do if you find an attached tick?

Remove ticks from your skin immediately. Transmission of Lyme disease generally requires the tick to be attached for more than 24 hours.

Using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool, grasp the tick close to your skin and pull it out gently. Don’t squeeze it; this can cause the Lyme disease agent to be introduced into your body.

Do not apply anything to the tick or try to burn it off.

After removal, place the tick in a screw-top bottle (pill vial) and take it to your doctor or local health unit. They can send it to a Public Health Laboratory for identification.

Thoroughly cleanse the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.


 
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