The Mediterranean Meal Moth is also known as the Mediterranean Flour Moth, Indian Flour Moth or Mill Moth. Their name derives from their propensity to invade and infest stored supplies of food staple items such as flours, grains, sugars and cereals. They are commonly found inside homes, particularly in areas where food is stored or has been accidentally spilled.
Mediterranean Meal Moths prefer grain-based foods like flour, cereals and various baked goods. They will also feed on dried fruits or mushrooms occasionally.
The size and scope of infestations often depend on the available supply and access to stored food on the premises. Large infestations have occurred in locations such as grain mills, where an abundance of their preferred food supply is present.
Infestations in homes are generally less serious although these pests can be extremely difficult to completely eradicate.
The adult moth is a light gray color and measures up to 12mm long. Its wingspan is normally between 16mm and 20mm. In their larval form, they are off-white in color with black spots along the body and a darker-colored head. The larva is approximately 12mm long when fully developed.
The female moth normally lays between 100 and 700 eggs in an area where food is present. They hatch after three to eight days and emerge as larva. Following their larval stage, the caterpillars will spin a cocoon to encase themselves at which time they will take on a reddish-brown color. They will emerge as moths after approximately 8-12 days.
Infestations is often indicated by the presence of larva in stored food or the web-like remnants of the cocoons left behind following their emergence as moths.
Adult moths may be seen at various times flying around inside a dwelling, but due to their size and erratic flight, the adults moths can be difficult to see and even more difficult to capture or kill.
These pests have a well-earned reputation for being very persistent and difficult to eradicate. It is essential to inspect all stored food within the home and check it thoroughly for signs of infestation. If there is any doubt at all about a particular product, throw it out. Make sure the discarded goods are completely removed from the home so any remaining pests cannot escape and continue the infestation.
Once all infested food products have been discarded, the best way to prevent re-infestation is to thoroughly clean all affected storage area surfaces.
Following successful eradication, all foods, particularly grains, flour, cereals and sugar should be stored in sturdy containers with tight-fitting covers. In many instances it is possible for these pests to make their way into food that is stored in containers with plastic snap-on lids such as Tupperware.
There are no specific health risks associated with Mediterranean Meal Moth infestation, although improper methods of eradication using dangerous pesticides could pose a risk from poisoning.