INTRODUCTION. The common name results from its being a serious pest on almonds. It is also known as the dried currant moth and tropical warehouse moth, and was formally named Ephestia cautella (Walker). It is distributed throughout the warmer parts of the world, including the southern United States and California and in heated warehouses further north.
RECOGNITION. Adults with wingspread (wing tip to wing tip) about 9/16-7/8" (14-22 mm). Color mottled gray with 2 wavy transverse bands on front wing, inner band about midlength and blackish with paler area to its inside, outer band pale, often with some black on each side; hind wing pale gray. Hind wing not narrowed, with a short hair fringe less than half width of wing. Head with mouthparts/tongue well developed as a coiled tube. Hind wing with M2+3 and Cu, branching closer to discal cell than to wing
margin, Cu apparently 3-branched. Male genitalia with valve lacking terminal process; vaive with a prominent lateral (on side) thumblike costal process near midpoint, process less than half valve width. Female ovipositor short; bursa (sac) with 2-4 (rarely 1 or 5) sclerotized/darkened teeth (signa/lamina dentata), duct of bursa(between sac and ovipositor) with longitudinal sclerotized/darkened bar. Mature lava 1/2-5/8" (12-15 mm) long; with many primary hairs (setae), no tufts. Color dirty white to pale gray with head brown and many small dark spots including 4 rows of brown spots down back (middle 2 rows more dense); abdominal segments 1-8 with small pigmented raised areas (pinaculae) around hair/setal bases. Head smooth, with 6 ocelli on each side. With 5 pairs of well-developed prolegs on abdomen, each bearing many cro¬chets (hooks) in a circle. Prespiracular tubercle (wartlike area between spiracle and front edge of segment) of prothorax with 2 hairs (setae). Tubercle VI on mesothorax (wartlike area near and above leg) with 1 hair (seta). With large dark thickened round ring around base of seta III (directly above spiracle) of mesthorax and abdominal segment 8. Abdominal segments 1-8 with 2 hairs (setae) directly below spiracle within same tubercle/wartlike area. Abdominal segments 1-8 with top 2 hairs (setae) on most segments at same level, with rearward of 2 hairs (setae) 2-2.5 times length of headward hair (seta). Abdominal segment 8 with short hair (seta) in front of spiracle separated from spiracle by a distance equal to horizontal diameter of spiracle.
SIMILAR GROUPS. (1) Carob moth (Cadra calidella) has male genitalia valve with a prominent lateral thumblike process beyond midpoint towards valve end and female genitalia has bursa (sac) usually with 5 or more sclerotized/darkened teeth. (2) Raisin moth (Cadra figulilella) has male genital valve with long thumblike process, process more than half width of valve, and female genitalia has bursa duct (between sac and ovipositor) with spiral rings of sclerotized/darkened material. (3) Dried fruit (Vitula edmandsae serratilineella) and tobacco (Ephestia elutella) moths have front wings with several wavy dark transverse lines, male genital valve lacking thumblike process, and female ovipositor broadly rounded or obtuse. (4) Mediterranean flour moth (Anagasta kuehniella) has front wing with 2 black zigzag transverse bands/lines and discal spot (between bands), male genital valve with only a terminal process, and female ovipositor much elongated.
BIOLOGY. Adult females lay their eggs on/in the food material, averaging 114 eggs (range up to 300) in her lifetime. At 86°F/30°C, eggs hatch in 3 days. There are 5 larval instars which require 22 days at 90°F/32°C. Pupation takes about 7 days.
Developmental time (egg to adult) can be completed in 30-32 days under optimal conditions of 90°F/32°C and 70% RH, but can take place at temperatures between 60- 97°F/15-36°C. When reared in raisins, average times were: incubation 8 days, larval period 63.6 days, and pupal period 10.4 days, for an average development time of 81.7 days. Adults live for 1-2 weeks.
HABITS. The adults cause no damage. The larva usually lives inside a dense silken gallery amongst the food material and this tube gets filled with frass. In cooler regions, mature larvae overwinter in silken cocoons. With heavy infestations, the larvae usually leave the food material to pupate on the walls of the storage area. Adult emergence reaches its peak around dusk. Worldwide, dried fruits are the preferred food, especially figs and dates. However it does infest a wide range of stored vegetable materials such as flours, grains, cereals, cocoa beans, peanuts, and shelled nuts including almonds.
CONTROL. Please call us today for a free quote for elimination of these moths.