ARTHROPOD MUSEUM NOTES

Number 8 • 2002 • Jeffrey K. Barnes


Indian meal moth
Order:Lepidoptera
Family: Pyralidae
Genus and species: Plodia interpunctella Hübner

Indian meal moth caterpillars Indian meal moth adult


The Indian meal moth, Plodia interpunctella, is one of the most important household pests in Arkansas. It often infests dried fruits, nuts, cereals, powdered milk, chocolate, birdseed, and dry pet food, and it is considered the number one moth pest of processed dried fruits in storage. The larvae of these moths seldom attack whole kernels. They prefer broken and damaged grains or processed cereal products. The adults have a wingspan of about 5/8”, and they are easily identified by the forewing pattern, with the basal third whitish gray, and the distal two-thirds darker and bronze. In an infested home, these small moths may be seen flying past lamps and television and computer screens at night. The larvae, which are often referred to by the general public as “white worms,” spin silk in the foods in which they breed, often webbing together nuts, grains, and flour with strands of silk. Mature, half-inch caterpillars leave their food supply and wander about looking for a place to pupate. Larvae seen on cupboards, ceilings, and counters are often the first indication of an infestation.

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Links:

Iowa Insect Information Notes
Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska
Pennsylvania State University Entomological Notes