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Warehouse/Cocoa/Tobacco Moth

A small moth, the caterpillars of which cause considerable damage to stored food products. As the name suggests it commonly attacks tobacco and cocoa, as well as grains, nuts, dried fruit and many other stored products. Adults are up to 10mm in length with greyish-brown wings and have dark double bands at the top and base of the wings (although these are frequently rubbed off). Similar in appearance to the Tropical Warehouse Moth where the wing markings are often less distinct (and the adults are less tolerant to temperature variances).

Up to 200 eggs are laid. There is usually only one generation per year, although under ideal conditions the lifecycle can be as brief as 12 weeks.

Indian Meal Moth

Adult moths are about 8 to 10mm long when at rest and have a wing spread of about 18 to 20mm. When viewed from above with the wings folded over the back, the outer 1/3 of the wing appears reddish-brown or bronze coloured "at the wing tips" while the inner 2/3 of the wing "at the basal portion" is light grey to ochre-yellow. Also, the head and thorax are reddish-brown and the hind wings grey. Brown-headed larvae are dirty white, sometimes tinged pink or green.

The female moth lays between 60 and 300 eggs, singly or in clusters, on or near the foodstuffs. Eggs hatch in 2 to 14 days with larvae or "tiny whitish caterpillars" dispersing within a few hours. Larvae move to foodstuffs, and feed in or near a tunnel-like case of frass and silk which they web together. Under good conditions, the entire life cycle requires six to eight weeks and can be active all year round. However, in cold climates, larvae over-winter and pupate in March.

Grain and Rice Weevil

These insects are easily recognisable by their elongated snouts (this is known as their rostrum). They are the common pest in stored grain.

They are usually found in grain storage facilities or processing plants, infesting wheat, oats, rye, barley, rice, and corn. Although not often found in the home, sometimes they infest table beans, acorns, chestnuts, birdseed, sunflower seeds, and ornamental corn.

The egg, larva, and pupa stages of both weevils occur in the grain kernels and are rarely seen. Feeding is done within the grain kernel, and adults cut exit holes to emerge. Emergence holes of the granary weevil are larger than those of the rice weevil, and tend to be more ragged than smooth and round. Females drill a tiny hole in the grain kernel, deposit an egg in the cavity, then plug the hole with a gelatinous secretion. The egg hatches into a young larva which bores toward the center of the kernel, feeds, grows, and pupates there. New adults bore emergence holes from the inside, then leave to mate and begin a new generation.

Flour Mites

This is a common species of mite in foodstuffs; it has reddish/pinkish legs. Flour Mites can live in almost any type of flour or in fodder and in stores of seed or corn. A single female can lay up to 500-800 eggs in her lifetime at a rate of 20-30 a day. If there is any doubt as to whether flour is infested with mites it is only necessary to spread a little out on a table and leave it for quarter of an hour. If the mites are present the surface of the flour will become uneven as the mites start to wander about.

Mite infested foodstuffs acquire a sickly sweet smell and a taste which renders them unsuitable for human and animal consumption.


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