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Stored Product Insects

Pests commonly found in food, also known technically as Stored Product Insects, covers a large number of insects. They can infest a variety of stored products in particular foodstuffs such as grains, cereals, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and even tobacco.

Stored grain insects are a health hazard in both private homes and businesses like food processing plants, warehouses, bakeries, stores, restaurants, mills, farms and silos. They can also cause enormous economic losses through damage and contamination of food products. Any contamination will make your food unfit for human consumption.

Identifying and removing the source of the infestation is a critical part of effectively controlling these pests. Businesses like food processing or grain storage can greatly benefit from an ongoing professional pest management program to contain and eradicate infestations along with high standards of hygiene and sanitation, including stock rotation practices in accordance with any applicable regulations.

Stored Product Pest Control Treatments for your business

Stored product pests often live within food for human consumption. In order to control insects within food, the food must be removed or destroyed in such a manner that it will not disperse the infestation, or treated in a way that presents no hazards in its end use.

Aerobeam Professional Pest Management can help your business with effective management, ensuring minimum disruption to your operation and full compliance with health and safety and any food legislation obligations.

Signs of a pests in food

Common signs of stored product insects include:

  • damage to store product, live or dead insects (small beetles and moths), larvae, pupae or silken webbing on food storage bins on shelves
  • infestation, holes, larvae or webbing on the outside of packets or bags
  • larvae, pupae or silken webbing in food harbourages in cracks and crevices around shelves or on machinery
  • larvae, pupae or silken webbing in food spillages
  • larvae, pupae or silken webbing on beams and window sills
  • Indications of the pests in insects traps or rodent stations

Where to find stored products insects

If you suspect a problem, it is also worth knowing where these pests may be hiding. Stored product insects can live in dried products such as:

  • Stored grain
  • Dried fruits
  • Milled and processed cereal products
  • Sweets
  • Cheese
  • Meat
  • Dry ginger
  • Dried fish and any other dried food

Almond Moth

Almond Moth identification
The body is 7.5 – 10 mm long. The adult almond moth has a wing span of 19 mm. The forewings are grey to dusty brown. The larva is white to pink in colour and has a distinctive brown head. There is a dark straight band across the forewing, which is paler on the inner edge.

The Almond Moth goes by the nicknames “Cocoa Moth” and “Tropical Warehouse Moth”. The almond moth infests stored products and the adults can fly.

A sign of infestation in the product is contamination with silk webbing, frass, cast skins, pupal cases and adult remains.

The almond moth is found worldwide in processing facilities, warehouses and households. It feeds on grain, cereal products, oilseeds and dried plant products, like nuts, fruit and tobacco. The larva burrows into food and creates silk tunnels in which it will be concealed while feeding. Large larva can burrow through packing.

The female lays 150 - 200 eggs loosely and randomly on a food source. The larva can grow to 12.7 mm in length. When the larva is mature, it will actively leave the food source and search for a site in which to pupate. The larva pupates in a silk cocoon.

  • Almond Moth
    Almond Moth
  • Almond Moth
    Almond Moth
  • Almond Moth
    Almond Moth

Indian Meal Moth

Indian Meal Moth identification
Adult has wingspread of about 14 – 20mm. Has pale gray wings, but the front wing is reddish brown and coppery on the outer two-thirds. Mature larva is usually dirty white, but may vary to greenish, pinkish, or brownish, depending on the food it eats. Head region is yellowish to reddish brown.

The Indian meal moth larva's is a very common commercial and pantry pest. The adult Indian Meal Moth causes no damage. Their larvae produce the web material commonly found in food, such as dried fruits, whole wheat and, cornmeal, and shelled or ear corn. Attracted to grain, grain products; corn, lots of different dried foods, such as fruit, nuts, seeds, also, biscuits and powdered milk; chocolate, candy; dried red peppers; dry dog food.

The Indian meal moth female lays approximately 200 eggs, on food material during a 1-18 day period of time. Temperature and availability of food determine the length of the larval stages. The last instar larva leaves the food to find a suitable place for pupation. The complete life cycle takes 25-135 days, with 4-6 generations per year.

  • Indian Meal Moth
    Indian Meal Moth

Mediterranean Flour Moth

Mediterranean Flour Moth identification
Mediterranean Flour Moth adult has wingspread of about 20 – 22mm and when at rest it is 10 - 14 mm long. The hind wings are dirty white while the forewings are blue-grey with transverse dark wavy bars and a row of dark spots at the tip. The larvae are white in color with a brown head and neck shield. The larvae can take on a pinkish or greenish hue and can reach a length of 15 - 20 mm. The pupa form a brown, spindle shaped cocoon approximately 9 mm.

The Mediterranean flour moth larva is a very common commercial and pantry pest. It is a pest of mills and warehouses as it can clog machinery with its webs.

The Mediterranean flour moth is mostly found infesting flour and meal. It has also been found infesting grain, bran, cereal products, nuts, chocolate, seeds, beans, biscuits, dried fruits and other stored foods.

The female lays between 100 - 700 eggs (usually 200) in and among the food source and usually fastens the eggs to the infested material. The eggs usually hatch in 3 - 5 days and the hatching larvae produce a lot of webbing. The young larvae confine themselves to silken tubes which are constantly spun. The larva attains full size in around 40 days. The larva pupates in or on top of the infested material (usually flour) or in cracks and crevices nearby. The life cycle can be completed in as few as 4 - 6 weeks but usually takes about 3 months.

  • Mediterranean Flour Moth
    Mediterranean Flour Moth
  • Mediterranean Flour Moth
    Mediterranean Flour Moth

Tobacco Moth

Tobacco Moth identification
The moth has a wing expanse of 14-17 mm; when at rest, the wings folded to a roof over the body, it is 8-11 mm long. The adult moth has brownish grey forewings crossed with two light bands. The hindwings are paler and plain grey. The caterpillars are whitish, yellowish or reddish (depending on nutrition) with brown head and neck shields. They grow to a length of 10-15 mm.

The Tobacco Moth is an introduced pest species of moth. Often found in warehouses and other areas where food or tobacco is stored.

The Tobacco Moth feeds on cocoa beans and tobacco, but also infests nuts, dried fruit and cereals. Adult moths do not feed. The larval feeding cause the most damage due to contamination with excrement and cocoons is immense. Besides tobacco, the pest infests cocoa, nuts, dried fruits, coffee, corn maize, wheat and spice

The female deposits about 100 eggs, singly or in small clusters. The caterpillars cover the infested goods with webbing. Pupation occurs in a cocoon. The development period depends on warmth and nutrition. Depending on the season, complete development takes 2-6 months.

  • Tobacco Moth
    Tobacco Moth

Having trouble with stored product pests?

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