The adult is a small moth, about 3/8 inch long with a wing span of about 5/8 inch. The overall body color is generally dirty gray but the tip half of the wing is rusty brown or nearly bronze. This wing marking pattern allows Indian meal moth to be easily distinguished from other household moths.
Indian meal moths develop in many kinds of stored foods. Coarsely ground grains and cereal products are commonly infested. Dried herbs, dried fruits, and nuts are also highly favored. Pet foods such as dried dog food, flaked fish food, and bird seed can also become infested. Indian meal moth may also breed in ornamental items made of dried flowers or seeds.
Indian meal moth caterpillars have eclectic tastes and eat a wide range of foods.
Females lay tiny eggs (ca. 0.5 mm) on or near potential food items. The newly hatched caterpillars (larvae) seek out foods and begin to develop. The rate of development is dependent on factors including temperature and food quality.