Mediterranean flour moth
Ephestia kuehniella Zeller

Classification

Secondary pest: Grain feeder
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Pyralidae
Acronym: EKU

Description

  • Adults are fairly large with a wingspan of 20 to 25 mm and a length of 9 to 12 mm.
  • Adults have forewings that are uniformly grey with some brown and white markings.
  • Labial palps are upturned.
  • Larvae are white to pinkish with a distinct head capsule, reaching a length of 20 mm at maturity.
  • Larvae have dark spots at the base of each setae.

Similar species

Commodities affected

  • Predominantly affects wheat flour
  • Will also infest bulk stored grain but is restricted to surface layers
  • Is recorded from a wide number of other commodities and may feed on dead insects

Signs of infestation

  • Direct larval feeding damage
  • Heavy webbing of food surfaces

Damage

  • Damage is not distinctive.
  • Larvae cause damage, adults do not feed.
  • When they feed on whole grains, larvae prefer to feed on bran and germ.
  • Larvae can produce copious amounts of silk contaminating grain.
  • Silk can also block machinery, legs and augers.
  • Webbing can result in condensation resulting in increased humidity and subsequent formation of moulds that may produce toxins.

How to control

Geographic range

  • Is found worldwide but is not abundant in the tropics
  • Is not well established in Canada, if at all

Where found

  • Is found in mills, processing facilities, warehouses and households
  • Can survive winter outside of heated structures
  • Does not cope well with high temperatures (more than 30°C)

Life history

  • Adults are most active at dusk and dawn, rest during daylight hours
  • When mature, larvae will leave the food and wander in search of a pupation site

Images

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