Dried Fruit Moth

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Dried Fruit Moth
Dörrobstmotte (Plodia interpunctella)

Dried fruit moth(Plodia interpunctella)

Class: Insects (Insecta)
Order: Butterflies (Lepidoptera)
Family: Borers (Pyralidae)
Subfamily: Phycitinae
Genre: Plodia
Art: Dried Fruit Moth
Scientific name
Plodia interpunctella
(Hübner, 1813)

Caterpillar on chocolate crumble

empty pupal case (exuvia)

Dried fruit moths mating

The dried fruit moth(Plodia interpunctella), also known as the storage moth, grain m oth or house m oth, is a butterfly of the family Pyralidae. The species is a now probably worldwide widespread storage pest.


The dried fruit moth has a wingspan of 13 to 20 millimetres and a body length of 4 to 10 millimetres. The basal part of the forewing is light grey to grey-yellow in colour, the remaining part is lighter or darker copper-red in colour.

Total development takes about 30 days at 30 °C and up to about 74 days at 20 °C. The adult moth lives for approx. 10 to 14 days and does not eat any more.


From the up to 300 eggs (diameter < 0.5 mm) strongly differently coloured caterpillars hatch already after 3-4 days, which in the course of their development moult 3 to 5 times and can reach up to 17 millimetres in length. The larvae like to sit in webs and pupate after some time in hiding places outside the food supply. The development of the moth takes 32 to 38 days under optimal conditions. Dried fruit moths are sensitive to cold, but can have several generations of offspring per year if conditions are good. The moth lives up to two weeks. The caterpillars of the dried fruit moth eat, spin and contaminate cereal products, malt, nuts, legumes, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, pasta, tea, spices, dried fruit and in exceptional cases also fresh fruit.


Pheromone traps and ichneumon wasps are used for control. Infested food should be disposed of, food supplies should be packed airtight, for example in glass or thick plastic containers. Noodles, chocolate etc. wrapped in their original foil are not sufficiently protected, as the caterpillars may be able to penetrate certain plastic packaging (see below).

Degradation of polyethylene

In 2014, Chinese scientists reported the caterpillar of the dried fruit moth could digest polyethylene. Two bacteria(Enterobacter asburiae and an undetermined species from the genus Bacillus) could be isolated from the caterpillar’s stomach, and the bacteria left micrometer-sized pits and holes on PE film.[1]

Web links

Commons: Dried fruit moth– Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  • František Slamka: Die Zünslerfalter (Pyraloidea) Mitteleuropas: Bestimmen – Verbreitung – Fluggebiet – Lebensweise der Raupen. 2. partly revised edition, Bratislava 1997, ISBN 80-967540-2-5
  • Thomas Kaltenbach, Peter Victor Küppers: Kleinschmetterlinge. Verlag J. Neudamm-Neudamm, Melsungen 1987, ISBN 3-7888-0510-2

Individual references

  1. Jun Yang, Y. u. Yang, Wei-Min Wu, Jiao Zhao, Lei Jiang: Evidence of polyethylene biodegradation by bacterial strains from the guts of plastic-eating waxworms. In: Environmental Science & Technology. 48, 2014, pp. 13776-13784, doi:10.1021/es504038a.