Stored Product Moths


Insects that attack growing crops continue to evolve and adapt insofar as many of them now present a pest hazard even once materials, e.g. food and timber, are harvested and put into store.  Storage of produce at any stage is susceptible to pests, whether it is in manufacturing facilities, processing plants, distribution warehouses, shipping containers, restaurants or retail outlets.


Insect pests in stored commodities can cause damage in a variety of ways:


  • Destruction or damage to the materials or foods through larval activity
  • Contamination with larval by products, e.g. webbing and frass. Webbing can entirely coat commodities and may be responsible for blocking machinery and ducts. The problem is exacerbated when webbing becomes mixed with frass, food and general debris.
  • Reducing nutritional value of foods
  • Spoiling food by defecating on the product. This can lead to the production of fungi and disease causing toxins. These in turn can cause human illness and potentially the production of deadly mycotoxins that can lead to illness in most livestock and have been linked to some forms of human cancer.
  • Spoiling by contaminating with whole bodies or insect fragments. If found by consumers in produce this is both off putting and potentially very damaging to the reputation of the producer.

Chestnut Leaf Miner – Cameraria ohridella


Larvae of Cameraria ohridella, the Chestnut Leaf Miner, burrow within the leaves of horse chestnut trees, and the damage caused by large numbers of larvae can be striking.  Up to 700 leaf miners have been recorded on a single leaf under favourable conditions.  Severely damaged leaves shrivel and turn brown by late summer and fall early, well before normal leaf fall in the autumn.  The spread and establishment of Cameraria ohridella is of particular concern because once established, the moth appears always to maintain exceptionally high rates of infestation without any evidence of decline.

Codling Moth – Cydia pomonella


Cydia pomonella is likely the most harmful pest of apples worldwide and also an important pest of pears, quinces and walnuts. They may also attack Prunus species, such as peaches.  Larvae bore into fruits, carving galleries inside.  Damage may go unnoticed in the earlier part of the season because their attack causes the dropping of young fruitlets.  Adult moths are seldom seen because they are active mostly at dusk, resting in the foliage during the day.

 Plum Moth – Grapholitha funebrana


Grapholitha funebrana is a major pest of plums and prunes throughout Europe.  The larvae bore into the fruits, carving galleries inside and causing premature fruit drop or rendering fruit unmarketable.   Adult moths are seldom seen because they are active mostly at dusk, resting in the foliage during the day. 

Webbing Clothes Moth – Tineola bisselliella


Webbing Clothes Moth, Tineola bisselliella, along with the Case Making Clothes Moth, Tinea pellionella, are two species of moth that are known to be a pest in stored fabric environmentsLarvae of these moths, not the adult clothes moths, cause significant damage, as they will feed on both natural and synthetic fibres. Fabrics that are stained with food or drink, urine, oil from hair and sweat are particularly susceptible to attack and especially items put in storage.  These moths prefer dark surroundings and they are not attracted to bright lights.  Female moths are unlikely to fly, preferring to hide within creases and folds of clothing.  If they need to move, they do so by hopping or running.  Male clothes moths do have the ability to fly, a feature exploited by pheromone traps.

Webbing clothes moths can cause significant and costly damage to antique carpets and upholstery.  They can be a major problem for museums and theatres where expensive or irreplaceable items are at risk.  The food sources for this pest are diverse.  Potential foods could be any feather material, woollens, rugs, felts, hair and furs (including animal mounts and fur garments). It is also reported that this moth will feed on spices, tobacco, hemp and skins.

 Pine Processionary Moth – Thaumetopoea pityocampa


Thaumetopoea pityocampa (Fam: Notodontidae), the Pine Processionary Moth, is an important defoliator of pine trees throughout the Mediterranean.  Larvae eat the needles and build a collective web nest under which they shelter and feed.  The moths obtained the name from the processionary habits of the caterpillars which at a certain stage, move in a long procession.

This caterpillar can also be a public health nuisance as the hairs on the body of the caterpillar can cause dermatitis with intense itching, oedema with or without dermatitis, conjunctivitis and keratitis.  If there is eye contact, rhinitis, pharyngitis, and bronchitis can result from penetration in the respiratory tract.

 Winter Moth Caterpillar – Operophtera brumata


The Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) is an important pest of fruit and other deciduous trees.  Wingless female winter moths emerge from pupae in the soil from October to January and crawl up trunks to lay eggs on the branches.  Eggs hatch in the spring and the caterpillars feed on foliage, flowers and young fruit, typically completing their feeding by early June.  They then drop down onto the soil where they pupate.

MTobacco Moth – Ephestia elutella


Ephestia elutella commonly known as either Tobacco moth, Cocoa Moth or Warehouse moth, are a widely distributed pest moth of stored products in subtropical and warmer temperate regions. They are considered a primary pest of stored products and can infest many products including tobacco, grains, pulses, processed flours and dried fruits. The moths lay eggs in crevices which hatch into caterpillars that then burrow through food stuffs, feeding and leaving silken webbing. The number of generations varies with climate as they can have as few as one generation a year in colder areas up to constant breeding in ideal conditions. The entire lifecycle can be completed in as short as 30 days in ideal conditions.