meal moth

(Pyralis farinalis)

meal moth
Photo by Mike Poeppe
  Hodges #

5510

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

 
  NatureServe

NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
 
Description
 
 

Meal moth is a small, broad-winged, triangular, pyralid moth. It is cosmopolitan, occurring around the world, but is most common in Europe and the United States. It is found anywhere grain is processed or stored, including warehouses, barns, and most home pantries. It is not the only moth common to home pantries, nor is it the most common. That distinction belongs to Indian meal moth. Other common pantry moths are Mediterranean flour moth, brown house moth, and white shouldered house moth.

Meal moth larva feed on cereals (plants in the Poaceae [grass] family), grains (edible seeds of cereals), and vegetables, including potatoes. Adults do not feed and are short-lived. They mate as soon as possible after emerging, then die after nine or ten days.

Adults are 916 to (14 to 16 mm) in length and have a 1116 to 1316 (18 to 30 mm) wingspan. The protruding mouthparts (proboscis) are scaled at the base. The sensory appendages (palps) attached to the upper lip (labrum) are long and turned upward in front of the head.

The forewing is elongate triangular. The basal area is chestnut brown, the median area is fawn-colored, and the subterminal area is chestnut brown. The antemedial (AM) and postmedial (PM) lines are white.

The hindwing is broad and rounded. The subcostal plus first branch of the radial vein (Sc+R1) is fused beyond the discal cell to the radial sector (Rs), then separated for more than half of its length.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 916 to (14 to 16 mm)

Wingspan: 1116 to 1316 (18 to 30 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat and Hosts
 
 

Cereals, grains, and vegetables

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Four generations per year: May to August outdoors, year round indoors

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Adults rest with their wings spread wide, their abdomen raised at a right angle to the body, and their antennae folded back over the body.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Mostly cereals but also other grains and vegetables, including potatoes.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Adults do not feed

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

21, 24, 29, 30, 71, 75, 82.

 
  7/26/2022      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common and widespread

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Pyraloidea (pyralid and crambid snout moths)  
 

Family

Pyralidae (pyralid snout moths)  
 

Subfamily

Pyralinae  
 

Tribe

Pyralini  
 

Genus

Pyralis (meal moths)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Asopia domesticalis

Phalaena farinalis

Pyralis fraterna

Pyralis manihotalis

Pyralis marianii

Pyralis meridionalis

Pyralis orientalis

Pyralis sardoplumbea

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

meal moth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Palp

Short for pedipalp. A segmented, finger-like process of an arthropod; one is attached to each maxilla and two are attached to the labium. They function as sense organs in spiders and insects, and as weapons in scorpions. Plural: palpi or palps.

 

Proboscis

The tube-like protruding mouthpart(s) of a sucking insect.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Mike Poeppe

 
    meal moth      
           
 
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Other Videos
 
  Meal Moth (Pyralidae: Pyralis farinalis) on Wall
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Aug 29, 2010

Photographed near Fisher, Minnesota (29 August 2010). Go here to view other images of this species: http://www.eol.org/pages/171824

 
  Meal moth, Pyralis farinalis (?)
Brian Tomasik
 
   
 
About

Jul 8, 2016

This video shows what I think is a meal moth (Pyralis farinalis) that I found in my house. Sealing flour and other food sources in containers can help prevent these moths.

 

 

Camcorder

 
 
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  Mike Poeppe
6/23/2022

Location: Just west of Houston, MN

meal moth

 
           
 
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Created: 7/26/2022

Last Updated:

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