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Mediterranean Flour Moths

Mediterranean Flour Moths or Mill Moth (“Ephestia kuehniella”, also “Anagasta kuehniella”) is a moth of the family Pyralidae. It is a common grain-feeding pest found around the world. They are often found feeding on flour, cereals and dry grain products in food storage areas.

Mediterranean Flour Moth

Mediterranean Flour Moth

The Mediterranean flour moth, has a wingspan of about one inch. Forewings are grayish with dark zigzag lines; the hindwings are off-white. This moth is most easily recognized by its characteristic resting pose. The moth raises the front of the body, giving the wings a distinct downward slope. The tip of the abdomen protrudes up between the wings. Larvae are white to whitish-pink and about 1/2b -inch long at maturity.

Mediterranean flour moth, its main habitats are flour and grout mills, corn milling plants, bakeries and any other place used for processing grains or preparing flour products. E. kuehniella occurs in most of the temperate and sub-tropical parts of the world, where average temperatures are around 20°C – 25°C. Complete development requires about 74 days at 25°C and 75% relative humidity. Larvae entwine all the material on which they feed resulting in solid lumps of food particles, faeces and larval exuviae.

Mediterranean Flour Moths

Mediterranean Flour Moths

Life Cycle: The female moth lays from 116 to 678 small white eggs in accumulations of flour, meal, waste grain, and other food sources. Commonly, the eggs are attached to the food. Within a few days (three days at eighty to ninety degrees F) the eggs hatch into small whitish or pinkish larvae, with a very hard and dark colored head and small black spots on the body, that immediately begin to spin silken tubes. The larvae remain within the tubes until fully mature.

which takes approximately forty days. When fully grown, the larvae will leave the immediate area where they were feeding and wander about in search of a location to spin silken cocoons. Within the cocoons, they transform into reddish-brown pupae. After eight to twelve days the adult moths emerge. During very warm weather, the Mediterranean flour moth may complete its life cycle in five to seven weeks. In Pennsylvania, there may be three to four generations per year under favorable conditions.


In the heat of a home, development can occur continuously which produces overlapping generations. Development of clothes moths is slowed on clean wool. Sometimes they are unable to complete their development on completely clean wool. This is because clothes moth larvae require Vitamin B and various salts as essential nutrients, and these are lacking in completely cleaned wool. However, perspiration, and many other kinds of fabric soiling can provide vitamin B and salts. Clothes moth attacks are typically focused on such soiled patches of cloth.

Mediterranean Flour Moths damage

Mediterranean Flour Moths Damage

Damage: 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. It is a pest of mills and warehouses as it can clog machinery with its webs.

Control: Prevention is the best strategy to avoid insect problems in stored grains. Proper bin sanitation before introduction of new grain minimizes the need for pesticides. Good sanitation involves the removal of old grain and dust in and around the grain bin. This includes removal of old grain from corners, floors, and walls and grain that may have spilled on the exterior of the bin. Any grain remaining when a bin is emptied can harbor insect infestations which will move into the new grain. After the bin is cleaned, and all needed repairs have been made, the floor and wall surfaces both inside and outside the bin should be treated.

Before grain is placed in a bin it should be screened to eliminate fine materials and broken kernels. Grain placed in a clean bin should be checked at two week intervals during warm months and at one month intervals during cooler months for the presence of hot spots, moldy areas, and live insects. If any of these conditions exist, the grain should be aerated to lower the moisture level and temperature.

Grain that is to be stored for longer than six months may need a protective application of an approved insecticide. Treatments can be applied as the grain is loaded into the bin through the use of a metering device calibrated to apply the proper amounts. After the grain is binned and leveled, a surface dressing can be applied to prevent insects from entering the grain on the surface.

Consulting a Pest Control professional should be considered if widespread Mediterranean Flour Moths infestations develop.

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