The Indian Mealmoth is considered one of the most important pests of stored food products in American homes. This moth gets its common name from the United States where it was regularly found infesting cornmeal made of maize or “Indian corn.” Infestations often occur in homes when packages are brought inside that are unknowingly infested with eggs. Once adults emerge, they can quickly find and infest other foods. Adult Indian Mealmoths average just over a ½ inch long. Their wings are covered in tiny scales that create a unique color pattern which can be used to distinguish them from other moths. The lower two-thirds of their forewings are reddish brown, and the upper third is grey. Although, these wing scales can easily rub off making it hard to spot the color pattern on some adults.
The Indian Mealmoth can complete its life cycle in as little as 30 days. Adults are typically short lived, surviving for no more than a few weeks. Over that short lifespan, adult females can lay as many as 400 eggs. Larvae spin large amounts of silk while feeding which accumulates fecal pellets, cast skins, and egg shells. The silk and accumulated waste serves as evidence of Indian Mealmoth activity. Prevention is generally the best strategy to avoid Indianmeal moth problems. Any items that are likely to be infested should be carefully inspected for signs of activity before they are brought home. Proper sanitation and exclusion steps should also be taken to minimize the likelihood of an infestation. Lastly, keep storage areas clean and free of clutter, and store all food items in glass, metal or hard plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.