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What Do Pantry Moths Look Like?

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Pantry moths enter your home as larvae in flour, corn, grains, cereals, peas, beans and other types of packaged food products. When they mature, they'll zoom around your kitchen. Three types of pantry moths are common; identify the type to determine what kind of traps to set.

One Hungry Moth

Indian meal moths are primarily gray and about 3/8 inches long. Their wingspans are 5/8 inch across. Indian meal moths have front and back wings. The tips of the front wings are deep brown or bronze color. Indian meal moth larvae eat dried herbs and fruits, nuts, fish flakes, pet food and grains, including cereals. The moths prefer dark conditions, and you’ll probably spot them flying through your house during the evening hours.

Even Popcorn Isn't Safe

Angoumois grain moths infest corn and are a particular problem in areas where large amounts of corn are stored. They usually enter homes in popcorn or in corn ears used as decorations. Angoumois grain moths are approximately a third of an inch long and have tan or yellow/brown bodies. The moths' wings extend a half-inch in length, and the rear parts of the wings are fringed. Angoumois grain moth larvae tunnel their way into kernels of corn and then hatch into adult moths inside the kernel.

The Biggest Pantry Moth

Mediterranean flour moths are gray with two black irregular lines on their wings. The front wings are a little lighter in color than the back wings. Mediterranean flour moths are the largest pantry moths, ranging in size from a quarter-inch to a half-inch long. Their wings are about 1 inch across when extended. Mediterranean flour moths hold their heads upright when they aren't flying and tilt their wings downward. As their name implies, you’ll find Mediterranean flour moth larvae in flour, but the larvae also eat grains and meal.

Eggs and Larvae

Moths lay eggs, and the resulting larvae do the most damage to food. Female moths lay their eggs on the surface of grains, corn, flour and other foods. Because the eggs are so small, they aren’t detected when food manufacturers package the food. The infested products are sold in stores. Unbeknownst to you, larvae hatch from the tiny eggs and feed on food in your kitchen. If you open a package of flour or cereal at just the right time, you might notice larvae, which look like tiny worms, or you might even see small discarded cocoons. After the larvae feed on the food product, they spin cocoons and turn into adult moths. The moths then escape the food packaging and lay eggs on other foods stored in your kitchen.