Technical Papers

Indian Meal Moths Infesting Your Pantries?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 by Bill Cowley


IndianMeal Moths Infesting Your Pantries - Image 1

Also known as pantry pests, Indian meal moths are the most common pests to infest pantries and food storage facilities. These troublesome insects cost food processing businesses thousands of dollars in discarded products yearly. Indian meal moths are attracted to light and feed on dried fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, chocolate, candies, birdseed, dog food, and powdered milk.

Indian meal moths have pale, grey wings, have a wingspan of about 5/8 of an inch, and are reddish-brown in color. They typically infest homes either from the outside or, most commonly, through stored food products purchased from a store or a warehouse. They pass through four stages during their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adult females lay their eggs inside the food itself and once the eggs hatch, the infested food becomes contaminated and damaged by the larvae and will need to be discarded. 

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends the following tips to prevent Indian meal moths:  

  • Store ingredients and snacks properly in plastic or glass containers with an airtight seal to prevent pests from getting inside.
  • Inspect boxes and bags for any damage or holes at the grocery store before purchasing to avoid bringing any pests home with you.
  • Check the expiration dates on your ingredients before use and dispose of anything stored for an extended period of time.
  • Clean up any crumbs or spills from countertops, tables, floors, and shelves, and dispose of garbage regularly in a sealed receptacle.