The rice moth is similar in size to the Indianmeal moth, but is much less common. The larvae are general feeders and prefer warm climates.
The adult moth has pale buff-brown forewings with 15-25mm ingspan the hindwings are almost transparent and uniform in color. The wing tips are rounded and tightly folded to the body when at rest. There are no distinctive markings on the wings, although veins may be slightly darkened. Adults do not feed and live for one to two weeks. Females lay from 100 to 200 eggs near food sources.
The larvae are dull white, with long fine hair and dark brown head. Larvae spin silken threads as they feed and web grains, debris and other particles into galleries in which they live and feed. When they are fully-grown, they form dense white cocoons to pupate. Pupae are usually found in food or they may be found between pallets and sacks. Adults emerge from pupae within four to eight weeks and repeat their life cycle.
The rice moth is one of the key pests of rice, cocoa, biscuits, pearl millet, sorghum and seeds. Larvae also contaminate foods by secreting silken threads that web together food particles, dusts and frass “debris or excrement produced by insects”. These will render infested products unaccepted for sale, manufacturing and consumption.