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Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Meal Moth

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Meal Moth larvae dine on stored grains and can be found gorging themselves in silos, warehouses, and pantries around the world.

Updated: 04/30/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Meal Moth has a global presence thanks to mankind's ability to store dried grain crops. Larvae of this species are not particular about the grain, and eat into stashes of wheat, barley, corn, rice, and other staples. Worldwide trade of these stored grains made it possible for the Meal Moth to find a food source anywhere grains are present. It has been found in the fields where grains are grown, in distribution warehouses, and even home pantries. Because most storage areas are temperature-controlled, the Meal Moth can be present all year round. This species is the only one of its genus that is found in the U.S. and Canada.

The adult moth is a chestnut brown color with a central, paler brown band that may have olive green hues. This paler band is bordered in thin, white, wavy lines and it stretches across the center of the wings. The inner middle part of the wings is dark. The abdomen may curl upward, poking out between its wings. The caterpillar is creamy white in color with a brown head. Its plump body may be seen inside bags or containers of grains as it feeds on the endless food supply.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Pest insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Pyralidae
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          Genus: Pyralis
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            Species: farinalis

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Pyralis farinalis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 14mm to 30mm (0.55" to 1.18")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; tan
Descriptors: grain; pantry; pest; bands; flying; crop pest; pantry

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 14mm (0.6in) and 30mm (1.2in)
Lo: 14mm
Md: 22mm
Hi: 30mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Meal Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Meal Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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