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INDIANMEAL MOTH (OR PANTRY MOTH)
Plodia interpunctella - Hubner

The Indianmeal Moth is considered the most troublesome of the grain-infesting moths in Ohio. Besides infesting and contaminating all cereal food products and whole grains, larvae also feed on a wide variety of foods and feeds such as dried fruits, powdered milk, cornmeal, flour, raisins, prunes, nuts, chocolate, candies, health food and seeds, bird seed, dog and cat food, fish food, graham crackers, dried red peppers, pastas, etc. Larvae spins silken threads as they feed and crawl, thus webbing food particles together.


Sometimes mistaken as clothing moths, homeowners first notice small moths flying in a zigzag fashion around rooms (kitchens and pantries) in the home. Occasionally, the larvae or "white worms with black heads" crawl up walls and suspend from the ceiling attached to a single silken thread. Other times, a few larvae may be found in a food package along with unsightly webbing, cast skins and frass (fecal pellets). It is repulsive to the homeowner
and costly to the manufacturer.


Packages of whole wheat, graham flour and corn meal are often infested. Most complaints in Ohio occur during the months of July and August, but often appear in other months as well. Most "hitchhike" inside in packaged goods and groceries. Not only homes, but restaurants, grocery stores, warehouses, pet stores, seed companies, mills etc., become infested.


The female moth lays between 60 and 300 eggs, singly or in clusters, on or near the foodstuffs. Eggs hatch with larvae or "tiny whitish caterpillars" dispersing within a few hours. Larvae move to foodstuffs, and feed in or near a tunnel-like case of frass and silk which they web together. Some food becomes matted with silken webbing. The larval stage is the feeding or "pest stage," and may range from 2 to 41 weeks, depending on the temperature.

This page is intended as a quick reference. Pest experts should be contacted for case-by-case evaluation if you believe that you have a pest problem that requires professional assistance.

Some information found in this overview has been compiled from household pest information sheets published by the Ohio State University Extension Office: HYG-2099-97, and by the Penn State University Extension Office. This information is included on this web site strictly to help in the identification of various pests, and no profit is directly derived there from.

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