Indian meal moth

Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) adult

Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) adult

Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) larvae and adults

Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) larvae and adults

Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella)

This insect is a common kitchen pest that infests milled cereal products and other foodstuffs. The adult moth is about one half of an inch long with reddish-brown wing tips. Female moths lay 100 to 300 eggs on food material which hatch into small, whitish caterpillars that feed on just about everything. When mature, the caterpillars are about one-half of an inch long and may have a greenish or pinkish hue. Mature larvae are often seen crawling about on walls and ceilings searching for places to spin a cocoon. During warm weather, a life cycle (egg to egg-laying adult) may be completed in 6 to 8 weeks.

The best way to control this pest is by employing the Inspect-and-Discard Method. Begin with those items that have been in the cupboard the longest and check all opened packages of flour, noodles, cereal, dried fruits, nuts, spices and even dog food and birdseed for moths, caterpillars and webbing. Discard any infested food items. It may be necessary to thoroughly scrub the cupboards and kitchen area with a strong detergent. Inspect behind and under appliances for spilled food material that can harbor these insects and remove if found. Once the area is clean, any household insecticide containing pyrethrins (like Raid) can be applied, if you so desire. Be careful not contaminate foods with insecticides used in and around the foods and food preparation areas. Adult moths live up to a month, so you may continue to see the moths for a few weeks after the source of the infestation has been removed. If the problem persists, store foodstuffs in tightly sealed plastic containers or freezer bags until the moths are no longer seen.