Indian Meal Moths

Indian Meal Moths usually take up residence in areas of your home or business where flour and grain products are stored.  

Physical Characteristics

The Indian Meal Moth goes through several life stages to adulthood.  However, the presence of adult meal moths is usually what alerts the resident to an infestation.  

  • Eggs are approximately 0.5mm in length and are grayish white.  You will find them singly or in clusters laid directly on food sources.
  • Larvae go through five to seven moults before moving to the next stage of development.  Mature larvae are around 1.5 cm in length with five pairs of prolegs which help them move in order to pupate.  They are usually off-white in colour but can be pink, brown or have a green tinge depending on the food source.  
  • Indian Meal Moth pupae are between 0.5mm and 1cm long and are pale brown in colour.  The larvae can pupate in a cocoon or unprotected.  
  • The final stage of development is, of course, adulthood.  Fully grown Indian Meal Moths have two-tone wings (grey and reddish brown) which differentiates them from clothing moths, for which they are often mistaken.  They measure around 1cm in length with a wingspan of approximately 3cm.

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Habitual Characteristics

The life cycle of an Indian Meal Moth can take place over anywhere between 30 and 300 days, depending on temperature and food source.  The nocturnal adult female can lay up to 400 eggs in an 18 day cycle with fertilisation occurring just 3 days after emergence.  As discussed, the eggs are laid directly on to the food source.

The larvae are surface feeders causing damage to your food products by spinning silk that hoards fecal matter, skin castings and egg shells.  When they are ready to pupate, the larvae will leave the food source looking for somewhere to spin a cocoon.  This is why it can sometimes be difficult to find the source of the infestation and why people often mistake these pests for clothing moths when they find them in other areas away from the kitchen.

Preventative measures you can take

The best prevention is to never let them in to your home.  Here are some things to consider in day-to-day life:

    • Examine all cereals, flour and dried fruit for infestations before you buy them.  Check for damage and always check the packaging date for freshness.  Infestations can be identified by webbing in the food itself or white worms on the packaging.
    • Foods used infrequently should be purchased in small amounts.  All dried foods should be stored in suitable screw-top containers preferably glass, metal or plastic with tight fitting lids.
    • Keep your kitchen clean.  Clear up any spills in cupboards and on countertops promptly.

Dealing with an infestation

In many cases infestations are small and can be resolved, by the resident, with a thorough clean.  First and foremost, all infested food must be discarded.  Examine everything for evidence, keeping in mind Indian Meal Moths are capable of chewing through unopened cardboard and plastic packaging.  The important thing is to find and eliminate the source.  Following that, all spilled foods must be cleaned up and the area scrubbed with soap and hot water making sure to remove and destroy any cocoons found.

However if you find yourself overwhelmed, OnSite’s treatment consists of a light aerosol application for an initial “knock-down” follow by a residual spray that is applied to the cracks and crevices of cupboards and effected areas following proper preparation by the resident.  All our Indian Meal Moth Treatments are covered by a 3 month warranty.

Another common problem in the Vancouver area is silverfish infestations. Contact us to find out your treatment options

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