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Almond Moth

Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name

Ephestia cautella

Appearance

The adult moth is gray with a wingspan of about ½ to ¾ inches. The wings are brownish- or blackish-gray with the wing base lighter than the wing tip. Full-grown larvae are dull white and appear to have a striped appearance.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

The almond moth infests dried fruit, especially figs and dates, shelled nuts, grains and seeds. This moth is a serious almond pest in California. The life cycle can be completed in about 60 days, and mating and egg laying begin almost immediately after adults emerge from the pupa, or cocoon. Adult moths do not feed and only live for about one week. Female moths can lay 200 – 400 small eggs on or near their eventual source of food. Adult moths are normally seen flying around areas where their food source is stored, and they are more active at dawn and dusk. Larvae create matted webbing as they feed and will often be found beneath the protective layer of webbing where they feed vigorously. The larvae prefer broken, damaged grains to whole, intact grains. The larvae will remain on the food product until they seek a place to pupate, often crawling up to the joint of the ceiling and the wall to make its cocoon.

More Information

The first step in eliminating almond moths is careful inspection. Empty the food storage areas and inspect shelves and food packages. Food that is covered with webbing should be discarded. New food should be stored in sealed glass or plastic containers until you are certain the infestation is resolved. Make sure to re-inspect every one or two months to check for any future problems. Vacuum the empty shelves, door edges and all cracks, crevices and gaps to remove food sources and insects.

When purchasing organic or bulk grains, inspect your purchase to ensure you do not bring home an insect infestation. Do not overbuy – too much product on hand will lead to having old material available for moth infestation. Remember FISO – first in, first out.

If the techniques mentioned above do not eliminate the problem, treatment applications and the use of specialty insect traps are the final steps. Should insecticide treatments be required, always contact your pest management professional for their advice and expertise.