May 14, 2024

In today’s blog post, we shall explore the benefits of a pheromone monitoring program for almond moths, a common and wide spread food industry pest. 

The almond moth is now called Ephestia cautella and was previously called Cadra cautella.

Who should monitor almond moths?  Any dry food manufacturer must monitor for almond moths in their premises and supply chain using pheromone traps.

Dry foods susceptible to almond moth larvae : The almond moth, Ephestia cautella, is a notorious pest that infests various stored food products. Almond moth larvae are destructive as they feed and contaminate various dry foods, damaging even packed products by chewing through the packaging.

  • Cereals and legumes : Wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley, lentils, dried peas, chickpeas, bran, flours, oatmeal, and breakfast cereals are prime targets for almond moth larvae which burrow into kernels, leaving behind webbing and frass (insect excrement).
  • Nuts and Seeds : Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other nuts and seeds are susceptible to almond moth larvae, which can chew through shells and feed on the nutmeats inside.
  • Dried Fruits : Raisins, dates, figs, apricots, and other dried fruits provide an ideal environment for almond moth larvae to feed and thrive on the fruit flesh, leaving behind webbing and frass.
  • Biscuits, Chocolate, Cakes and Confectionery : Almond moth larvae have a particular fondness for biscuits, chocolate, cakes and other cocoa-based confectionery products. They can burrow into chocolate bars, leaving behind a trail of webbing and frass.
  • Spices and Herbs : Paprika, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, and other spices and herbs can become infested with almond moth larvae, which can feed on them, leaving a bitter taste and unpleasant odour.
  • Pet Food : Dry pet food can be susceptible to almond moth larvae,which feed on the kibble, leaving behind webbing and frass, making the food unpalatable for pets.
  • Other Stored Products : Almond moth larvae infest various stored products, including dried vegetables, flour, pasta, and tobacco.

Almond Moth Pheromone Trap Selection and Placement :

  • Trap Type : Triangular delta or diamond-shaped wing traps are options for monitoring almond moths using pheromone lures. Almond moth pheromone lures mimic the scent of female moths, attracting males and being a sex pheromone type.
  • Placement :
    • Initial Survey : Place traps in a grid pattern throughout the suspected almond moth infestation spaces like warehouses and food processing areas to assess the extent and distribution of almond moth infestation.
    • Targeted Monitoring : After identifying almond moth hot spots, increase trap density in those areas to monitor population fluctuations.
    • Trap Height : Place traps one and a half to two meters above the floor to match the typical flight zone of almond moths.

The SPP Diamond Trapp for monitoring almond moths

Almond Moth Pheromone Trap Monitoring Frequency :

  • Initial weekly monitoring : Check almond moth pheromone traps weekly during the initial survey phase to gather baseline data on moth activity.
  • Ongoing periodic monitoring : After establishing an almond moth population baseline, the trap monitoring frequency can be adjusted to bi-weekly or monthly depending on the level of infestation and the goals of the pheromone monitoring program.

Almond Moth Pheromone Trap Data Recording and Analysis :

  • Almond moth catches : Note the number of male almond moths caught in each trap and the date of capture.
  • Analyze : Track almond moth trap catch data over time to identify trends in almond moth activity and determine if populations are increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable.

Almond Moth Pheromone Trap Action Thresholds :

  • Establish : Set action thresholds based on the acceptable level of almond moth activity in your facility, including the average number of moths trapped and the maximum acceptable almond moths in one trap. Action thresholds must trigger specific management actions when exceeded, including deployment of extra almond moth pheromone traps, cleaning, inventory inspection to detect almond moth infestation, disposal of infested products, and space treatment to control almond moths in the areas being monitored with pheromone traps.

5. Management Actions :

  • Increased Monitoring : If trap catches exceed action thresholds, increase monitoring frequency or the number of almond moth pheromone traps to track population trends more closely.  Even daily monitoring of almond moth pheromone traps may be required in extreme cases.
  • Sanitation : Intensify cleaning efforts to remove food debris and potential breeding sites.
  • Mating Disruption : Consider implementing mating disruption techniques using pheromone dispensers to confuse male moths and disrupt mating.  Commercial pheromone-based almond moth mating disruption products are now available to control almond moths.
  • Insecticide Treatment : As a last resort, targeted insecticide applications may be necessary, such as surface sprays, aerosols, or fumigation. Consult a pest management professional for advice on appropriate products and application methods.

Benefits of Almond Moth Pheromone Monitoring :

  • Early Detection : Pheromone traps can detect almond moth infestations early before they cause significant damage.
  • Targeted Control : Monitoring data helps pinpoint infestation hot spots, allowing for targeted control measures and minimizing the use of pesticides.
  • Cost-Effective : Early detection and targeted control can save money by preventing product losses and reducing the need for expensive heat treatments or fumigation. Extensive almond moth infestation may result in the shutdown of a food processing plant to eliminate the infestation and make the processing equipment and environment free of almond moths.
  • Environmentally Friendly : Almond moth pheromone monitoring is a non-toxic and environmentally friendly pest management tool.
  • Mating Disruption Integration : Pheromone monitoring is essential for assessing the effectiveness of mating disruption programs and making necessary adjustments.

Limitations in the use of Almond Moth Pheromone Traps : While pheromone traps are a valuable tool for almond moth management, they do have some limitations:

  1. Attracts Males Only : Pheromone traps lure male almond moths and provide information on male population trends but not on females, which are responsible for egg-laying and population growth.
  2. Not a Control Method : Pheromone traps are monitoring devices, not control measures, as they help detect and assess infestations but won’t eliminate them on their own.
  3. Lure Longevity : The effectiveness of almond moth pheromone lures diminishes over time.  Replacing lures regularly, typically every 4-6 weeks, is essential to ensure the continued attraction of male almond moths.
  4. Environmental Factors : Trap catch numbers can be influenced by temperature, humidity, and air currents.  High temperatures and low humidity can decrease lure efficacy.
  5. False Positives : Occasionally, non-target moth species may be attracted to pheromone traps, leading to inaccurate data interpretation.
  6. Not Suitable for All Environments : In large, open areas with high airflow, like grain silos, pheromone plumes may not distribute effectively, limiting trap efficacy.
  7. Requires Expertise : Proper trap placement, data interpretation, and decision-making based on monitoring results require some expertise in pest management.
  8. Monitoring Alone is Insufficient : Pheromone traps should be part of an integrated pest management (IPM) program that includes sanitation, exclusion, and, if necessary, targeted insecticide applications.

Despite these limitations, pheromone traps remain valuable for almond moth monitoring.  When used correctly and as part of a comprehensive IPM strategy, they provide essential information for early detection, targeted interventions, and effective pest management.

By implementing a comprehensive pheromone monitoring program, you can effectively manage almond moth populations and protect your stored food products.

Giridhar Pai Associates LLP markets the Trece Storgard IMM+4 Pheromone Lures and the Gum tree Traps SPP Diamond Trapps for monitoring Almond Moths. 

Contact us for your IMM+4 pheromone lure and SPP Diamond Trapp requirements.

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