The Indian Meal Moth is considered the most troublesome and most common of the grain-infesting moths. Damage is caused by the larvae spinning silken threads as they feed and crawl, thus webbing food particles together. Besides infesting all cereal food products and whole grains, larvae also feed on a wide variety of foods 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.
Homeowners first notice small moths flying in a zigzag fashion around rooms (kitchens and pantries) in the home. These moths fly mostly at night. 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). Packages of whole wheat, graham flour and corn meal are often infested. Some adult moths do fly into the home during summer months through open doors or windows, but most “hitchhike” inside in packaged goods and groceries. Not only homes, but restaurants, grocery stores, warehouses, pet stores, seed companies, mills etc., become infested.