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Visual Reference Library - Insects
 IN-10.0 Warehouse, Cocoa, or Tobacco Moth

Ephestia elutella (Huebner)


A moth with a wing span of 16 mm often found in warehouses and other areas where food or tobacco is stored. This species is closely related to the meal moth and is very common insect in tropical and temperate climates.


The adult moth has brownish grey forewings crossed with two light bands. The hindwings are paler and plain grey. The caterpillar is dark to start with, becoming yellow with a dark line down its back, and a dark brown head. It shelters in loose silk web amongst the food source. The pupae are light brown turning black before the adult emerges.


The Tobacco Moth caterpillar is a pest on stored products, especially cocoa beans and tobacco, but also infests nuts, dried fruit and cereals. Adult moths do not feed.


The female lays eggs on or near the products. The eggs hatch into larvae which feed on the product producing large webs of silk. The larvae move off the food to pupate in the storage packaging or in the storage structure.

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Last updated February 2010