Indian meal moth close up

Indian Meal Moths can be found in homes at every stage of their life cycle. You may see the small adult moths flutter near kitchen windows or Indian meal moth larvae crawling in or near food supplies.

The Indian Meal Moth is categorized as a pantry pest due to its diet of stored grains. They appear in food storage areas while searching for grains, dried fruits, cereals and other processed foods.

There’s nothing worse than pouring a bowl of cereal in the morning and seeing a moth fly out or small worm-like larvae in your bowl. Luckily, these pesky moths can be easily managed by following the Indian Meal Moth prevention tips below.

Additional Pest Information

Appearance – The Indian meal moth got its name after an insect scientist found it feeding on corn meal, also known as Indian meal or maize. From wing tip to wing tip, adult moths measure 5/8-3/4 inches long. This small moth has wings that are copper or reddish colored on the outer part and tips of the wings, with a lighter band across the upper part of the wing.

Biology – Female moths can lay 100 to 300 eggs near food surfaces. While the adults don’t eat, the larvae hatch hungry and feed on the available food. Newly hatched larvae are hard to see, but they can grow to be 1/2-5/8 inches long.

Larvae are yellowish, pinkish or greenish in color with a brown head. It is the newly hatched larva that causes problems by feeding on just about anything. From cereal products, bird seeds, to dog or cat food; they contaminate the food with larval shedding, feces, and silk webbing.

Prevention –

  • Check dried food products for moths, especially open packages and products that have been stored longest.
  • Throw away contaminated food in outdoor trash bin.
  • Rotate out older food.
  • Clean cupboards and shelves regularly.
  • Clean spilled foods, especially under appliances and counters.
  • Store food in pest-proof containers.
  • Store pet food and birdseed in pest-proof containers.
  • Consult a pest professional if problems persist.

Adult moths live up to a month, so you may see them flying around even though you may have thrown out all the infested food. Eliminate all eggs and larvae to properly stop infestation.

Indian meal moth wing pattern
Indian meal moth larvae.

How to Get Rid of Indian Meal Moths

1. Identify Sources of Infestation – Promptly discard infested items and thoroughly clean out all food sources. This is pivotal to controlling Indian Meal Moths in your home.

2. Trap Live Populations – Find non-toxic traps in the pest control sections of big-box retailers. Place them in pantries and around affected areas. These will help catch adult moths that could lay eggs in new food sources.

3. Prevent Re-Infestation – Store foods in sealed air-tight containers or in cold storage to help prevent re-infestation of the Indian Meal Moth. If the moth can’t get in to lay eggs, then you won’t have any future issues. Also, use a natural moth spray in your pantry or try using essential oils, vinegar or bay leaves to keep the moths from returning. A pest control expert can take professional moth control measures in your Michigan home.