Everything You Need to Know About Indian Meal Moths

In the United States, one of the most common pests reported in grain that has been stored is the Indian meal moth. In homes, it is common to find it in foods stored in the pantry. It feeds on cereals, grain products, dried fruits as well as nuts and many types of processed foods. An adult moth will have a wingspan of approximately three-quarters of an inch. They are a copper color as well as reddish brown. Their rear wings have no distinctive color pattern and are gray. Adults are active at night and very attracted to light or anything bright.


The Indian meal moth lives on every continent that provides a tropical habitat. In the United States, this type of moth is a common pest in Florida. It can survive and thrive in many different conditions. The Indian meal moth is considered a persistent pest wherever it is found. Around the world, it will live in different types of food storage facilities. Its favorite places to live are grain storage buildings as well as bins specifically designed for grain storage.

Egg and Larvae

Should the temperature of a bin or building where grain is stored remain at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, an Indian meal moth will be able to easily live and reproduce. A life cycle from egg to adult takes from forty to fifty days. A mature female Indian meal moth can lay up to 300 eggs on grains. They may lay one egg on a single piece of grain or may leave as many as thirty. It could take up to fourteen days for the larvae to hatch. The amount of time it takes will be determined by the environment. When the larvae of the Indian meal moth hatch, they will be larvae and feed on the fine materials within grain.

Life Cycle

It is possible for over nine generations of Indian meal moths to complete the life cycle in a single year. This usually doesn’t happen. When temperatures get cool, fewer generations can complete the life cycle. When conditions are optimal, it is possible for the entire life cycle of an Indian meal moth to be completed in twenty-eight days. The pupae of the Indian meal moth are often found on the walls of grain storage bins or buildings. They also attach themselves to grain surfaces. Once they emerge from the pupae stage, they will be adults for up to ten days. They then mate and the entire life cycle repeats itself.


It is common for Indian meal moths to migrate long distances. They are known to actively fly long distances to forage. These flights will occur during the twilight hours of the day when blue light and not Uv light is the dominant light source. Blue light attracts the Indian meal moth.


The newly hatched larvae of the Indian meal moth feeds on the fine materials inside the grain. Indian meal moths larval stage can last as long as a year. During this time, they can inflict significant loss of grain. Younger larvae will feed on the top inches of grain. When larvae get larger, they will feed on the germ on the grain. The larvae are also able to bite through plastic and cardboard.


The Indian meal moth is known for causing direct damage to grain. It happens when the larvae feed on seed germ. When grain is sold for consumption by animals or humans, the Indian meal moth can significantly decrease its dry weight. This type of moth can decrease the value of grain by the contamination caused by its larvae. When live insects are present, it can cause the dockage of grain during the selling process.


Farmers and homeowners experience the most success avoiding damage from an Indian meal moth with proper sanitation. It can help farmers avoid the need to utilize pesticides. This involves removing old grain, as well as dust, around a grain bin or grain storage building before any new grain is placed in it. In homes, people can make certain their pantry food is stored in proper containers. The area where food is stored should be regularly cleaned.

The Indian meal moth was named because it feeds on Indian-meal or corn meal. Once they are discovered, these moths are difficult to eliminate. They can travel a significant distance from one site of an infestation to create another site of infestation. Only regular and thorough sanitation can help prevent the damage caused by the Indian meal moth.

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