Aphomia sociella

This is a moth which lays its eggs in a bumble bee nest, or more rarely in a wasp nest. There the larvae feed on any organic material, e.g. the wax cells and their con- tent of nectar and pollen in a bumble bee colony, but they may also attack the bee larvae. When fully grown the moth larvae leave the nest in a body and in a sheltered spot nearby they then spin a communal cocoon, which may contain hundreds of pupae. These are commonly found, sometimes so firmly attached to the substrate that it is difficult to break them loose. The larvae may cause damage by gnawing the substrate to provide a suitable site for the communal cocoon, but otherwise they are completely harmless. The adult moths do not attack textiles or anything else in the house.

Tapestry moth

Tapestry moth

Tapestry moth

( Latin: Trichophaga tapetzella)

This is the largest of the moths that attack textiles, and it has a tendency to• feed more on coarser materials than the other textile moths, including such things as horse hair, coarse furs and skins.
Like the preceding species it thrives in humid conditions, and nowadays it is found especially in outhouses and stables. It does not attack wallpaper, but is a serious pest of tapestries hung on damp external walls.

Brown house moth

Brown house moth and larva

Brown house moth and larva

( Latin: Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

This is another moth that is very similar to the clothes moth, but it is larger (up to 1.5 cm long).

Under favourable conditions the female can lay 500-600 eggs and the larvae feed on many different types of material. They are found in stores of cereals and seeds and may attack practically any kind of vegetable matter. They also gnaw woollen goods, often causing severe damage.

The larvae are sometimes found in birds’ nests where they feed on food remains and on the nest material. The adult moths may fly indoors from birds’ nests built under the eaves. The larvae, however, are very sensitive to desiccation, so if the humidity is constantly below 80 %, they cannot complete their development. They will, therefore, only cause damage in damp rooms or cellars. When conditions become unfavourable the development of the larvae may come to a standstill for a period of time. They then go into a resting phase, which may be the result of low temperature or low humidity, and activity is only resumed when the conditions again become favourable. The pupal stage is spent in a torpedo-shaped, brownish cocoon.

Case bearing clothes moth

Case bearing clothes moth

Case bearing clothes moth

( Latin: Tinea pellionella)

Unlike the common clothes moth this is an insect which does live outside in temperate regions. For instance, it is not uncommonly found in birds’ nests.

The adult case bearing clothes moth is very similar in appearance to the common clothes moth. The larvae of the case bearing moth are, however, easy to recognise, for they spin a small tubular case which becomes covered with fragments of wool or feather. They creep around in this case and withdraw into it when threatened. Clothes moth larvae, on the other hand, attach their tube firmly to the substrate.

The case bearing clothes moth larva pupates inside its case. In other respects its habits and life history are similar to those of the common clothes moth, but it requires a higher humidity, and it has become less common as a pest in recent years.

Wine moth

( Latin: Oinophila v-flavum)

This is not really a food pest, but it is somewhat of a specialist, that i often found in wine cellars where the larvae gnaw holes in the corks. They thrive particularly in damp cellars, feeding on the mould growing on the walls and on the wine corks, and what is worse they can live in mouldy corks. The debris produced by their activities can be seen hanging from the corks, often covered with wine that has seeped out of the bottle.

Brown house moth

( Latin: Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

The larva of this moth is sometimes to be found in grain warehouses or among foodstuffs, but it is primarily a pest of textiles

Indian meal moth

( Latin:  Plodia interpunctella)

This is a particularly serious pest in stores of food in warm regions of the world. It mainly infests dried fruit, nuts and almonds, and the larvae are also found in chocolate, and sometimes in cereal products. Under the most favourable conditions (at 25° C) development from egg to adult takes only 35 days. As in the other moths that attack foodstuffs the larvae leave the material they have been feeding on and move off, often upwards, in search of sheltered places in which to pupate. In the house the larvae may be found in packets of nuts or almonds.

Dried currant moth

( Latin: Ephestia cautella)

This is very similar to the preceding species and it has the same habits. Also known as Cadra cautella.

Mill or flour moth

( Latin: Ephestia kuehniella)

This moth came originally from India. It was first found in Europe in about 1877 in American wheat. Nowadays there are few concerns dealing with flour and cereals which do not suffer from time to time from the depredations of this kind of moth. It may also become a menace in private households.

The adult moths fly about at dusk, and the females each lay up to about 300 eggs in the flour. When the eggs hatch the larvae start to feed immediately. All the time they are spinning a sticky silken thread, which causes the meal to hang together in large clumps. It also acquires an unpleasant smell and a grey-brown colour due to the faeces.

The fully grown larvae move up to the surface of the flour and wander off to find a nearby crevice in which they can pupate. The pupa, which is 7 mm long, is completely enclosed in a thick, white silken cocoon.

The adult moths emerge from the hiding places after 2-3 weeks.

Mill moth larvae prefer wheat flour, but will also feed on all sorts of grains, cereals, seeds, macaroni, dried fruits, cocoa, nuts and almonds.

In mills the silken threads may cause a blockage of piping, funnels and sieves, so that the process has to be stopped for a thorough cleansing and possibly gassing.

In the house it will normally be sufficient to discard the tainted goods, but it is as well to remember that larvae ready to pupate will have hidden themselves nearby, and may make their presence known a few weeks later.

Small moths

( Latin: Microlepidoptera)

Although one does not generally associate moths with foods, there are in fact some species which exploit foods and some of them are among the serious pests in stores and factories.