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Flour Moth

General Facts

The Flour Moth is a common pest of dry plant produce and stored foods such as cereals and it is found around the world. They are usually called flour moths because they don’t normally eat whole grains, but generally feed upon flour or milled products. The adults are often seen on the ceilings and walls of infested structures. The larvae leave a silken thread behind wherever they crawl so that the surface of the food may become covered with the webbing that they produce.

 

Appearance & Habits

The adult moth is pale gray and up to 12 mm long, with dark bands. The wingspan is between 16-20 mm. The larva (caterpillar) is off-white with a darker head and about 12 mm long when mature. The females will deposit up to 300 eggs, either singly or in groups of up to 30 eggs, on or around food sources and the eggs hatch within 2 weeks. Soon after hatching, the small whitish larvae begin feeding. Full grown larvae are about 1/2 inch long, with a brownish head and a dirty white body (sometimes with green or pink tinges). Larvae may spin a silken cocoon and transform to the light brown pupal stage on the surface of the food source or crawl around and pupate nearby. The caterpillars are often found feeding on flour, cereals, baked goods and other dry grain products in food storage areas. Less often, dried fruits or mushrooms and even peat or rotting wood may be eaten. The adult moth can emerge from the cocoon in 4 to 30 days.

 

Control

As with most grain or flour-feeding instects, the most effective method of control is to adopt basic good sanitary practices. It is essential to ensure that food storage areas are kept clean and tidy and that no residues are left over. In addition it is imperative that food, especially grain, sugar and flour, is kept in plastic or metal storage containers with tight fitting lids. This will stop flour moths and other pests from getting at their contents.