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Top 10 Pests: Indianmeal Moth

Indianmeal moth adult Indianmeal moth larvae
Adult Indianmeal moth Larvae (immatures)

Photo USDA-ARS-GMPRC

Photo USDA-ARS-GMPRC

Indianmeal Moth

Scientific Name:
Plodia interpunctella
Family:
Pyralidae (Subfamily Phycitinae)
Order:
Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies)
U.S. Distribution:
All states (as pest of stored products)

 

 

 

 

This page has three tables, (1) Identification, (2) Look-alike Pests, and (3) Biology and Habits.

Identification

Match the Shape and Size Match the Color
Indianmeal moth line drawing

Indianmeal moth adult

 

 

  • Adult moth averages 3/8 inch long (9 mm)
  • Wingspan averages 2/3 inch (18 mm)
  • Antenna 2/3 length of body
  • Fringe of hairs on wings
  • Long palps
  • Folds wings over back when at rest
  • Base of wings gray
  • Outer (distal) part of front wings reddish-brown with dark bands
  • Hind wing silver gray
  • Larva whitish (may have pink or green tint)
  • Larva has brown head (see photo at top right)
Illustration from Techletter Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA/Agricultural Research Service

 

Look-alike Pests

Look-alike Pest Differences

Angoumois grain moth
(Sitotroga cerealella)

Color uniformly pale yellow-brown; outer (distal) part of front wings NOT reddish-brown with dark bands; hind wing with narrow tip
Mediterranean flour moth
(Anagasta kuehniella)
Wingspan 1 inch (24 mm) or slightly less; front wing pale gray with zigzag lines; front of body raised when at rest

 

Biology and Habits

Match the Food and Site Match the Habits and Damage
Cereals, seeds, and other foods of Indianmeal moths indianmeal moth larva
  • Larva feeds on dry pet food, cereals, dried fruits, cornmeal, graham & whole wheat flour, nuts, bird seed, fish food, chocolate, spices, almost any stored food
  • Indoors: found in packaged, bulk, or spilled food materials mentioned above, especially foods that are old, damaged, overlooked, or stored in dark areas
  • May be found infesting food hoarded by mice in wall voids & other sites
  • Larva spins webbing, which contains fecal pellets and shed skins, over its food material
  • Larva may leave food material and crawl up walls looking for site to spin cocoon
  • Adult rests during day in dark areas, flies mostly at dusk in zigzag manner
  • Major pest of stored foods; most of the damage is from contamination of foods
Photo © Pinto & Associates Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA/Agricultural Research Service

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