Monday, February 28, 2011

Indian Meal Moth – Plodia interpunctella

Diagram of Plodia interpunctella
Illustration of Plodia interpunctella from Agricultural Entomology for Students, Farmers, Fruit-Growers and Gardeners by Herbert Osborn, published in 1916.

Travelmarx headquarters is under a slow siege from the Indian Meal Moth – Plodia interpunctella. Also called the Pantry Moth, Flour Mouth, or the North American High-Flyer. Every morning we find one or two of the moths in our kitchen. We did discover some cornmeal contaminated with larvae in January and cleaned everything up (i.e. threw it all out). When we first saw the larvae we thought they were weevils, but now with the moths we know they were unmistakably Plodia interpunctella. We are now, we hope, seeing the last of these pests. But a sweep through all food stores is in order. The Encyclopedia of Life lists the conservation status of this insect as “of no concern”. We don’t feel so bad using the electric bug zapper racket to usher then into their next life and break the cycle of infestation. One characteristic of interpunctella is that when you touch them the drop straight down and stay motionless for a few moments, making it easy to catch them.

The genus Plodia was first described in 1845 by Achille Guenée, a French lawyer and entomologist. The species interpunctella was first described in 1813 by Jacob Hübner, a German entomologist. But what do the names mean? The best we could come up with is the following: the genus name, Plodia, is without entymology according to An accentuated list of the British Lepidoptera, 1858 (p. 58) and interpunctella means “well-divided, pointed”. What part of the larva or moth interpunctella applies to is not specified.

Plodia interpunctella, Moth - Alive
Plodia interpunctella, Moth - Dead

1 comment:

  1. "to usher then into their next life?" how generous of you!


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