Indian meal Moth: Kitchen/Pantry Pest (April 12, 2013)

This week's sample came from a box of dog cookies, but the Indian meal moth is a very common pest found in all sorts of products made from grains. The larvae develop in pasta, flour, stored grains, pet food, etc. and the small cream-colored larvae often produce a noticeable webbing on the surface of the stored product. The adults are small, usually on the order of 1/4 - 3/8 inch in length. The giveaway for moth identification is the copper coloration in the last half of the wing. (The clothes moth, another common moth in homes, does not have this two-tone wing coloration.) People will usually see one or two moths flying in the kitchen or in areas where grain-based products are stored and often the moths will be in cabinets that contain uch items. Control is fairly simple; discard the affected product if you can and store all grain-based products in sealed containers. Leaving boxes open simply invites larger populations to develop. Mike Merchant, our Urban Extension Entomologist in Dallas, has a good fact sheet on stored product pests in the home and a blog article on identification of the different types of small moths that might be infesting homes.  If you have small moths in the home, then pay special attention to determining whether the moths are Indian meal moth, some other grain-feeding moth or whether they are clothes moths. The latter is bad news; clothes moths can do damage to wool clothes, furs, carpets and other protein-based products and it is critical to get a proper identification. 

Indianmeal moth. Photo Credit: Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Indianmeal moth. Photo Credit: Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.