Insect of the Month

Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpunctella)


Indian meal moth Adults: Adults are up to 13mm (0.5inches) long with wings that have brown copper tips. The part of the wings closest to the head is off-white.

Indian meal moth Eggs: Eggs are oval, ivory in color and 2mm (0.08inches) long.

Indian meal moth Larvae: Larvae are Creamy white, brown head capsule. Coloration varies from cream to light pink color, sometimes pale green.

Indian meal moth Pupae: Pupal cases are whitish with a yellow to brownish colored pupa inside.

Life Cycle

Adult Indian meal moths live for 10-14 days. Mated females can lay 200-400 eggs singly or in groups. Eggs hatch in 3-5 days in warmer months and up to 7 days in cooler months. Larvae feed and become mature in 21 days or if 30 days depending on food quality, temperature, and humidity. Larvae will wander and pupation will occur away from infested materials. Adults emerge from the pupae in 7 to 10 days depending on temperature.

Damage & Detection

Granular frass the size of ground pepper can be found in and on food materials such as nuts, dried fruits, cereals and processed foods containing nuts or seeds and made from wheat, rice or corn. The use of pheromone traps and inspections can determine location and degree of infestation.

Fun Facts

  • Similar species include the meal moth (Pyralis farinalis), Mediterranean flour moth (Ephestia kuehniella), Almond moth (Cadra cautella), raisin moth (Cadra figulilella), and dried fruit moth (Cadra calidella).
  • Other common names for the Indian meal moth include weevil moth, pantry moth, flour moth, and grain moth.
  • Like many food moth species, adult Indian meal moths do not eat. Their larvae are vivacious feeders and damage dried goods.
  • Larvae produce large amounts of silk which can contaminate dried food goods and clog machinery.
  • Indian meal moths initiate flight at temperatures above 12.5°C (55°F).
  • The pheromone that attracts the Indian meal moths also attracts over 20 other moth species (Ephestia spp., Cadra spp, and Spodoptera spp.).

Recommended monitoring systems for the Indian Meal Moth are: