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Keeping Moths Out of Your Products

Managing a logistics business is complicated work. Between personnel, inventory, shipping schedules and warehouse management, you have enough concerns to keep you occupied on any given day. Delays, damaged shipments and mishandled inventory all threaten to ruin the fluidity of your operations. But there’s another threat to your efficiency—and profitability—that’s so small it can go unnoticed for weeks, or even months: A stored product pest infestation.

Stored product pests hide in and feast upon the contents of boxes, containers and other storage units, oftentimes causing massive damage before they’re initially detected. Among the most egregious of these nuisances are moths. Though they may seem benign, moths pose a serious risk to logistics businesses because of their propensity to reproduce en masse and gnaw their way through all manners of products.

Moths can render food products unfit for sale and human consumption, costing grocery stores, farmers and logistics professionals significant amounts of money in damages by reproducing in and feeding on grains, fruits, vegetables and more. These winged pests can also feed on paper, leather and a host of other materials to satisfy their cravings, meaning virtually no stored product is guaranteed safe. When it comes to protecting your company’s bottom line, fortifying your facilities against moths is a must.

Common Types of Moths

Before addressing moths at your facility, it’s important to know which ones pose the largest potential threats.

These are the most typical offenders:

  • Angoumois grain moths: Yellowish in color, Angoumois grain moths are distinguished by a narrow projection that extends from the tip of their hind wing. Larvae develop within corn or wheat kernels, making infestations difficult to detect. These moths are also particularly active in lower temperatures, meaning you may be more likely to see them during the winter.
  • Indian meal moths: These moths usually have gray wings with a rusty brown or bronze color toward the rear half of each wing. Larvae seek flour, cereal and nuts to munch upon, making them a foe of any business storing or transporting these products. What’s more, they change the flavor of food items they infest and can quickly ransack an inventory.
  • Warehouse moths: Nuts, dried fruits and cocoa beans are the primary items on the menu for these moths, although they also consume other dry food products. They can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. To identify these pests, keep an eye out for the dark bands on their wings.

Signs of Moth Infestation

It’s best to work with your pest management provider to create a comprehensive prevention plan upfront. However, no matter how secure your facility is, there’s always a risk of a moth infestation. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for them and train your employees to do the same.

Here are a few ways to identify the presence of moths in your facility:

  • Altered product weight: The dry weight of infested products is usually altered when moths feed upon it. If you notice unexplained changes in product weight, you may want to inspect the affected containers for the presence of pests.
  • Unexplained dust: As a byproduct of moth feeding, dust may pile up around infested products. Conduct regular examinations of your facility’s floor and shelves to see if accumulated dust is present.
  • Frass and webbing: When opening up a product you suspect may be infested, a couple of sure signs of moths are frass (powdery material resulting from boring or digging) or silken webbing. If either of these two elements are present, there’s a good chance moths are already living and reproducing inside the product.
  • Holes: Moths typically chew or dig their way into a stored product, leaving a path in their wake. Holes can be an indicator of the presence of one or more pests, including moths.

A Family Affair

Once you’ve identified the presence of moths, it’s time to act quickly. Reproduction is swift and occurs on a massive scale. Females lay as few as 40 and as many as 600+ eggs at a time. What’s more, these eggs are typically deposited directly on a food source—which means your stored products are likely to serve as a breeding ground. As they mature, larvae have big appetites and can chomp through many materials with ease. Additionally, adult months tend to live for less than a month, which can also cause a carcass problem as generations of moths reproduce and die.

Tips for Preventing Moths

There are several steps you can take to stop moths in their tracks before they become a major issue. Here are just a few:

  • Inspect shipments of products upon arrival. In some cases, moths may arrive inside an incoming shipment, having originated somewhere further down the supply chain.
  • Dispose immediately of any infested products once discovered. The longer moths remain in your facility, the better chance they have of spreading and causing more damage.
  • Limit access to stored items like foods and fabrics by putting these products in “insect-proof” containers. Moths can easily bite and dig their way through cardboard, paper and other less-durable materials. A hard plastic or metal container will prove more effective for keeping them out.
  • Keep a regular sanitation schedule to remove waste products and moisture that might attract moths. This is a crucial part of any pest management strategy, not just for moths.
  • Remove any clutter to reduce moth living places. Moths avoid light (contrary to popular belief) and are often found in some of the darkest spaces of a building.

As a logistics company, you simply can’t afford to have a moth infestation. Your products, and ultimately your bottom line, are dependent upon your facilities remaining free of these flying pests. Talk to your pest management provider about implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan, which will cover everything from prevention to treatment and beyond.

Western Pest Services® offers thorough moth control — from uncovering infestations and identifying their sources to keeping your business pest free all year. It’s the best way to ensure your company stays moth-free.

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