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INDIAN MEAL MOTH

Identification & Biology of Indian Meal Moth:

 

  • 14-20mm wingspan
  • At rest 8-10mm long
  • Outer halves are bronzy-reddish brown in colour
  • Inner halves are light grey to yellow in colour

 

The female Indian meal moth can produce between 150-300 eggs, laid individually or in clusters. As a moth, Indian Meal Moths goes through complete metamorphosis including egg, larvae (crawling stage), pupae (cocoon) and adult (flying moth). Therefore, if the infested food product is discovered and removed, and no other food source exists, the life cycle of the moth may be interrupted. The eggs need temperatures of 14c to hatch, the larvae will then spin silk webbing amongst food stuffs. The larvae can take up to 6 months to develop depending on temperature. They moult between 4-7 times before pupating. The larvae are yellowish or white with a light brown head.

Where Indian meal moth live & how they affect you:

The Indian meal moth lives in warehouses, in raw materials especially those brought in from overseas. It is the principal pest in the dried fruit & nut industry. In food premises they can often be a sign of badly rotated stock or old stock being brought into the premises. They like to eat all sorts of grain, fruit & vegetables, confectionary, pet food, bird seed etc. The larvae will eat through paper, cardboard, foil & most packaging materials. They can be mistaken for the common clothes moth; they tend to fly in a zigzag pattern around rooms, especially kitchens & pantries. They fly mainly at night & are attracted by light source. On occasion some adult moths do fly into premises through open doors or windows; they mainly however get in through packaged good & groceries. Many places can become infected by the Indian meal moth including restaurants, grocery stores, homes & pet stores. A question frequently asked is what are the dangers of ingesting infested food products? Given that the Indian meal moth doesn’t come into contact with disease containing surfaces & therefore do not transmit disease, there is no harm to be had to people or pets on this matter.

Control measures for squirrel:

If you are experiencing an infestation, sanitation i.e. the removal of all infested food stuffs is of key importance to this issue. Next you will need to thoroughly vacuum the corners of all cabinet shelves & areas adjacent to the food storage area. As a precautionary measure, throw away the vacuum bag. Pheromone traps are used to inspect, monitor & pinpoint infestations of the Indian meal moth. These diamond shaped glue traps are used with a pheromone lure to entice the male, but control will be incomplete as the egg laying female moths do not enter these traps. Room fogs can also be used to control large numbers of these moths, but this will only kill the present moths & not those that will hatch later. Insect growth regulators are recommended to be used to capture good control of this pest. It is applied to cracks & crevices or as a surface application near affected areas. The active ingredient in this affects the larvae stage hence effectively stopping the breeding cycle. This will produce positive long term results & is especially useful when the source of the infestation can’t be isolated. It is important to note that exposure to this chemical doesn’t affect humans or pets.

Indian meal moth - Helpful Tips:

Hygiene is of key importance to the control of Indian meal moths & the following is necessary to eliminate the problem:

  • Protect potential food sources from attack by storing items securely
  • Keep food cupboards & work surfaces clean from crumbs & other food particles
  • Block any harbourages, which create the ideal hiding place for breeding sites.
  • Create accommodation that is easily cleaned, to avoid the accumulation of debris.