Get Rid of Cocoa Moths - Western Fumigation

Facts About Cocoa (Tobacco) Moths

All the information about tobacco/cocoa moths you need.

The adult cocoa moth, Ephestia elutella, is also known as the Tobacco Moth, warehouse moth, and several other common names. No matter what you call them, they’re common to find in the food industry. This is a small, inconspicuous Pyralid moth, measuring about one centimeter in length and up to two centimeters in wingspan. Their slightly shiny wings are brown-gray and streaked with a few dark horizontal stripes. The hind wings are a little lighter, a little silvery, and adorned with a fringed edge. However, they are not very conspicuous and are often overlooked as little grey fliers until they show you the numbers they can create! The larvae, which are what’s usually found in the food, are small caterpillars measuring up to 15 millimeters long in size. They are creamy yellow with a dark head. However, the color of the body can vary depending on the food they are eating. You’ll be more likely to see the adult moths flying or webbed cocoons on the sides of cargo rather than the larvae themselves.

How Did I get cocoa or tobacco moths

Cocoa moth infestations at home generally come from bringing in products that are already infested. If you can identify which product is infected, you should tell the store where you purchased it so they can inspect the other packages and remove the infested product right away. In businesses, they can travel from origin, existing in nature in Europe, to warehoused goods and then distributed globally. They can multiply during transport. Most chocolate makers will have had cacao moths in their storage rooms at some point; but this is true of other commodities as well. That’s why adding fumigation to your food safety plan as a preventive control option is always a good idea.

What Problems Do tobacco or cocoa moths Cause

Cocoa moth larvae can contaminate a whole range of products like cocoa beans and other chocolate preparations, grains, nuts, dried fruits, tobacco, straw, and hay. Cocoa moths can cause minor damage in private kitchens and pantries at home but are major problems in warehouses and grain stores or silos. From product contamination and the loss of revenue that can come from that, businesses can lose vendors as well. The webs they leave behind cause the product they’re in to clump together and can leave cargo considered adulterated. The pattern of damage is similar to a flour moth but when you’re bringing in a fumigator, it really doesn’t matter.

how do i get rid of cocoa or tobacco moths

If you find evidence of cocoa moths, you will want to dispose of the infested products. Cleaning out the area with soap and water will help as will vacuuming the cracks and crevices. Unfortunately, in larger infestations like in grain silos or large warehouses, fumigation is the only way to take care of cocoa or tobacco moths in a short period of time. Once they are taken care of, protect yourself from future infestations by using airtight glass or plastic containers to store your food, ensure your outside perimeter envelope of the building is sealed well, and implement a good sanitation program (including up in the rafters where food dusts can settle and support an infestation). Warehouses and food processing plants should include fumigation in their food safety plans to stay ahead of cocoa moths, tobacco moths, warehouse moths, and many other pests.
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