Indian Mealmoth Plodia interpunctella

Physical characteristics: Adults are small and slender, with a wingspan of 0.62 to 0.79 inches (16 to 20 millimeters). Each forewing is yellowish brown toward the base and reddish brown toward the tip. The hind wings are dull white and almost clear. The mature larvae measure 0.36 to 0.60 inches (9 to 15 millimeters). They have a yellow-brown head and shield over the front of the thorax. The rest of the body is dull white to pinkish.

Geographic range: Indian mealmoths are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Habitat: Indian mealmoths live outside and are attracted to lights at night but are usually seen in cupboards and pantries in homes. They also infest supermarkets and feed stores. The larvae are found in stored foods or pupating between shelves and walls or where walls and ceilings meet.

Diet: The larvae eat all kinds of stored foods, including pastas, cereals, dry pet food, and dried fruit.

Indian mealmoths are attracted to lights at night but are usually seen in cupboards and pantries in homes. They also infest supermarkets and feed stores. (Illustration by Patricia Ferrer. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: Adults fly at night and are attracted to televisions and other sources of light in the home. The larvae tunnel into food and ruin it with their waste and trails of silk webbing.

The female lays eggs just three to four days after emerging from the pupa. The speed of larval development depends on temperature, humidity, and food quality and ranges from thirteen to 288 days. Multiple overlapping generations are found in homes and warehouses.

Indian mealmoths and people: The caterpillars infest stored foods in homes, supermarkets, and warehouses and are considered pests.

Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ■

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