The Mediterranean Food or Flour Moth is larger than the Indian Meal Moth. Development and damage is similar to the Indian meal moth, except the larvae live and feed in the small silken tubes that they spin. Although flour is the favorite food, grains, bran and breakfast cereals are also attacked. The life cycle takes about 10 weeks. The webbing and matting of the larvae often cause the main damage by this insect, whether it is contaminating foods in the home or clogging machinery.
The adult Mediterranean Food Moth is a light-grey colour and from 6-12mm long, with a wingspread of about 23mm. The wings are marked with two fuzzy, dark zigzaging lines (see photograph). The hind wings are a ‘dirty white’.
This moth is most easily recognised by its characteristic stance when at rest - extending the forelegs and in doing so raising the head, giving the body a sloping appearance. No other house moths have this characteristic pose.
The female moth lays from 110 to 600 small white eggs in their preferred food sources and the eggs are usually attached to the food. Usually in about 3 days the eggs hatch into small white or pink larvae, with a dark colored head and small black spots on the body, that immediately begin to spin silken tubes. The Mediterranean Food Moth larvae remain within the tubes until fully mature – usually about 40 days.
When fully grown, the larvae will leave the immediate area where they were feeding and look for a place to make their silken cocoons within which they turn into red-brown pupae. After eight to twelve days the adult moths emerge. Although the lifecycle can take place all year round in warm houses, during particularly warm weather, the Mediterranean food moth may complete its life cycle (egg to adult) in five to seven weeks.
When considering pest control measures for food preparation and food storage areas it is critical to ensure a safe solution is used; either clear the whole area of foodstuffs and dispose of contaminated food prior to using chemical treatments and thereafter use moth traps designed for food areas.
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