Indian meal moths are small moths that grow to 3/8 inch or less with a wingspan up to ? inch.
The adult moth is very distinctive, with a coppery red outer half to each forewing, and a creamy white basal half.
Indian meal moths and their offspring infest all kinds of food products. The larvae cause damage to food items by spinning silken threads as they feed and crawl; webbing food particles together. Homeowners notice small moths flying indoors in a zigzag pattern near or in front of television sets. Occasionally, the larvae, which look like white worms with black heads, crawl up walls and suspend from the ceiling attached to a silk thread. Other times, a few larvae may be found in a food package along with unsightly webbing, cast skins and fecal pellets. Packages of whole wheat, graham flour and corn meal are often infested.
The Indian meal moth can be found infesting the widest range of food products of any moth. It will infest virtually any processed food of vegetable origin including cereals, candy bars, pet foods, spices, grain products, seed products, powdered milk, dried fruit and nuts and even dried flower arrangements.
A female Indian meal moth can lay up to 400 eggs on food material over a two to three week period. She usually lays her eggs at night and, under favorable conditions, they can produce as many as eight generations per year. The larvae often leave their food supply when they are ready to spin their cocoons and they may wander about in search of a suitable place to pupate.
Not only homes, but restaurants, grocery stores, warehouses, pet stores, seed companies and mills become infested. The Indian meal moth is considered the most troublesome of the grain-infesting moths in Ohio.
With any stored food pest, the source must be eliminated before control can be obtained.