Ephestia elutella


Ephestia elutella, the cacao moth, tobacco moth or warehouse moth, is a small moth of the family Pyralidae. It is probably native to Europe, but has been transported widely, even to Australia. A subspecies is E. e. pterogrisella.

Cacao moth
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Pyralidae
Genus: Ephestia
E. elutella
Binomial name
Ephestia elutella
(Hübner, 1796)

Numerous, see text

The wingspan is 14–20 mm. This moth flies throughout the warmer months, e.g. from the end of April to October in Belgium and the Netherlands.


Caterpillars of Ephestia elutella (tobacco moth)

The caterpillars of Ephestia elutella are often considered a pest, as they feed on dry plant produce, such as cocoa beans and tobacco, as well as cereals and dried fruit and nuts. Less usual foods include[1] dried-out meat and animal carcasses, specimens in insect collections, and dry wood.

Tobacco and its related products can be infested by Lasioderma serricorne (tobacco beetle) and Ephestia elutella, which are the most widespread and damaging parasites to the tobacco industry.[2] Infestation can range from the tobacco cultivated in the fields to the leaves used for manufacturing cigars, cigarillos, cigarettes, etc.[2]



This species has been known under a number of junior synonyms:[3]

  • Ephestia amarella Dyar, 1904
  • Ephestia icosiella Ragonot, 1888
  • Ephestia infumatella Ragonot, 1887
  • Ephestia roxburghi (lapsus)
  • Ephestia roxburghii Gregson, 1873
  • Ephestia roxburgii (lapsus)
  • Ephestia uniformata Dufrane, 1942 (variety)
  • Homoeosoma affusella Ragonot, 1888
  • Hyphantidium sericarium Scott, 1859
  • Phycis angusta (Haworth, 1811)
  • Phycis elutea Haworth, 1811; (unjustified emendation)
  • Phycis rufa Haworth, 1811
  • Phycis semirufa Haworth, 1811
  • Tinea elutella Hübner, 1796


  1. ^ Grabe (1942)
  2. ^ a b Ryan, L., ed. (1995). "Introduction". Post-harvest Tobacco Infestation Control. Norwell, Massachusetts and Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 1–4. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-2723-5_1. ISBN 978-94-017-2723-5.
  3. ^ See references in Savela (2009)


  • Grabe, Albert (1942). "Eigenartige Geschmacksrichtungen bei Kleinschmetterlingsraupen" [Strange tastes among micromoth caterpillars] (PDF). Zeitschrift des Wiener Entomologen-Vereins (in German). 27: 105–109.
  • Savela, Markku. "Ephestia Guenée, 1845". Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  • Lepidoptera of Belgium
  • Cacao moth on UKMoths