Warehouse Almond Moth, Ephestia Cautella

The tropical warehouse moth, Ephestia cautella is a major pest of stored food products worldwide.

Infestations have been reported in cereals and chocolate manufacturing facilities. The tropical warehouse moth infests dried fruit and nuts, cereals, oil seeds, cakes and chocolate products.

Ephestia cautella is also known as the almond moth or cocoa moth. After just 70 days in a facility, the presence of the tropical warehouse moth can causes damage and losses to over 60% of the stock making it an economically important pest.

Warehouse Almond Moth

The Tropical warehouse moth, Ephestia cautella feeds on a variety of stored products that include rice, wheat, maize, beans, cake, flour, bran, oat meal and maize, dry fruits such as fig, almond, raisins, dates, pears, ground nuts, walnuts and confectionary items such as biscuits and chocolates. The act of feeding can be extremely damaging to the food produce and there is often further contamination of food stuffs with faecal matter.

The Tropical warehouse moth is often confused with the Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella). E. cautella originated from tropics or subtropics via imported food that was infested with the moth.


Adults of E. cautella are approximately 8-10 mm in length with an approximate 10-18 mm wingspan. Forewings are grey-brown and banded with lighter and darker colours.

Adult females lay around 300-400 eggs during the first week, usually starting 20-25 days after adult emergence.

The larvae are an off-white colour with purple spots. Larval growth and rate of development depends on temperature. At 25°C they will be fully-grown in 25 days. The tropical warehouse moth overwinters as larvae in low temperatures. When pupation draws near, they generally migrate away from the foodstuff, and climb walls in search of crevices to pupate safely away from the food source. Pupal period is completed within 12-15 days if food sources are readily available.


Nature of Damage

The larvae of tropical warehouse moths commonly attack grains, nuts, dried fruits and a great variety of other stored products. Larvae are able to chew through foil wrapping to infest protected products. E. cautella larvae cause damage by contaminating foodstuffs with frass or silk webbing. Silk webbing produced by the caterpillars can block and subsequently damage the machinery of flourmills and food processing plants.



Russell IPM Ltd manufactures and supplies pheromone lures, traps and complete monitoring systems for the black carpet beetle Ephestia cautella, the tropical warehouse moth or almond moth.

The Xlure-RTU is a multi-species diamond trap for Ephestia cautella, and other Ephestia spp. 

Trematerra, P et al., (2013) The use of water traps and presence of spermatophores to evaluate mating disruption in the almond moth, Ephestia cautella, during exposure to synthetic sex pheromone. Journal of Pest Science.


The purpose of the study was to verify the efficacy of a mating-disruption system (MD) applied in a confectionary factory infested by almond moths, Ephestia cautella (Walker), using pheromone traps and the presence of spermatophores in females caught with water traps. Results obtained confirmed that water is a considerable attractant for E. cautella, as a great number of males and females were caught. The presence of spermatophores in females allowed determination of mating status: most captured females were mated; in the area where MD was applied to the percentage of unmated females was lower as compared to the control area (the proportion of unmated females was much higher in the control area). In an integrated pest management programme, the combined use of MD and water traps eliminates large numbers of male and female almond moths. This information will be useful in developing strategies for suppressing E. cautella infestation.

Darwish, Y. A. et al (2015) Effect of extreme low and high temperatures on the almond moth, Ephestia cautella. Journal of Phytopathology and Pest Management.


The different immature stages of the almond moth, Ephestia cautella (Walker) were exposed to low temperature of -5ºC for different exposure times. Exposure of eggs to 240 to 360 minutes is sufficient to achieve 100% mortality for this stage. Exposed early larval instar to -5ºC for 180 minutes is sufficient to achieve 100% mortality. Exposure of the late larval instars to 300 and/or 360 minutes is effective to achieve a complete mortality for the late larval instars of the pest. Exposure of pupae to 300 minutes or more is effective to get a complete mortality for the pupal stage. High temperatures were tested against egg, late larval instars and pupal stages of E. cautella. Mortality tended to be increased with the increasing of temperature and exposure time. Exposure time for more than one hour at 45ºC, 15 minutes at 50ºC and 10 minutes at 55ºC were more effective and led to more than 95% mortality for the egg stage of E. cautella. Exposure of the late larval instars for more than 97.22, 72.17, 17.65 minutes at 45, 50 and 55ºC is sufficient to achieve more than 95% mortality for the late larval instars as indicated by LT95 values. Exposing the pupae to 25 minutes at high temperatures of 50ºC and to 15 minutes at 55ºC is an effective to get complete mortality for the pupal stage. Thus exposure times for more than 90 minutes at high temperature of 45ºC; 33 minutes at 50ºC and/or 11.67 minutes at 55ºC were more effective to achieve more than 95% mortality of the pupal stage of E. cautella.

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