The control of pests in the protection of stocks was dominated for a long time by the call for the "pest exterminator" and the apparently safe solution by using chemical control agents. Moth paper and mothballs in the wardrobe were standard in grandmother´s time. In the meantime, many of these substances have proven dangerous to health. After the new regulation on biocides, the range of  approved chemical control agents is limited to only a few products.

However, today we have a range of biological control agents at our disposal. On the one hand, these are  biological insecticides, but especially the natural antagonists of moths and beetles, the beneficial insects. Just as the ladybird beetle devours the aphid, there are parasitic wasps that "love a storage pest to bits". The mode of action and the effectiveness of the beneficial insects has been known for decades and has been proven by numerous studies. And in the meantime the "pest exterminator" has become a Chamber of Commerce-examined Pest Controller with several years of training who increasingly also uses beneficial insects for control!

Instead of quickly resort to the spray can to control flying moths and crawling beetles, a new control principle applies now: detect a pest infestation at an early stage, determine the pests (by traps), remove infested stock items and effectively control the remaining stages of pests (eggs and larvae) by using beneficial insects. In individual cases also in combination with biological insecticides.

The use of beneficial insects is a modern, environmentally friendly and effective way to control pests.

The control of food moths in the household and warehouse

Food moths (Indian meal moths, Mediterranean flour moths or Angoumois grain moths) are widely spread pests in households and food storage and processing companies. Endangered goods are cereal products, nuts, spices, teas, pasta, various sweets, like chocolate, but also dry food for pets, especially bird seed and grain feed. The larvae can ideally develop here.

An infestation by food moths is not only unappetizing, but also hazardous to health. The feeding activity of the larvae spoils the food. The consumption of infested food can cause allergic reactions, mucous membrane irritations and bowel diseases.
Besides, mites and various fungi might settle on the fecal residues. Therefore infested food should be disposed.
In the household, the `food moth` or Indian meal moth Plodia interpunctella is the most common one.

Appearance of the food moth:

The moths are very easy to recognize by the distinctive coloring of the wings (bronze bands on a silver background on the forewings), size about 1 to 1.5 cm. The larvae are yellowish-white and become up to 1.5 cm in size.

Way of life of the moths:

The female moths lay their eggs (200-300 eggs / female) on or in close proximity to food. Shortly thereafter the small larvae hatch and immediately start eating. Afterwards the larvae walk around and search for a suitable hiding place for pupation. At normal room temperatures, the larval development takes about 4-6 weeks. After another 10 days the next generation of moths hatches, the females lay eggs again and the cycle starts again.

Main reason for moth infestation in the household is the wrong and overlong storage of food.

To prevent spread, a few simple basic rules should be observed:

  • Pests often get into the house with the purchases. Always check food before purchasing or at the latest before storing in the cupboard for an infestation (an infestation can be recognized by spun small droppings, gossamer or feeding damage in/on the packaging)
  • Storage only in tight-closing glasses or storage containers. Paper and film packagings do not offer safe protection against larvae.
  • Do no store large quantities. The longer food is stored the higher is the risk of an infestation. Regularly control nuts, almond slices, raisins and other baking ingredients that are often stored for a very long time. Opened packages should always be filled into closed containers.
  • Always store stocks in a dry and, if possible, cool place.
  • Built-in kitchens offer many hiding places for moths. Therefore the cupboards should be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed twice a year. Gaps can also be treated with hot air (hair dryer).
  • Pheromone traps only serve for control purposes and are no effective control agent. Only males are trapped, the females continue to lay eggs.
  • Secure the windows in summer with fly screens to prevent flying in from the neighborhood.
  • Be careful when using insecticides as they may also have an effect on humans.
  • If all measures do not solve the problem, parasitic wasps must be used against the food moths. The tiny parasitic wasps (smaller than 0.5 mm) are able to control the moths effectively, environmentally friendly, discretely and sustainably.

The TrichoKarte is an application system for the Trichogramma parasitic wasps developed by us and tried and tested in the practice for many years.

It has already been used a million times outdoors, in greenhouse growing, in stock-keeping and private households.

The TrichoKarte VORRAT is fitted standardly with 2000 parasitized eggs of the Trichogramma parasitic wasp T. evanescens euproctidis (for a release every 14 days) or 3000 parasitized eggs (for a release every 21 days).

We have defined quality standards for our products. They are the basis for a successful control of the moths and the overall success of the procedure!

Biological control of moths in the household

Trichogramma parasitic wasps are egg parasites, that means they look for the laid eggs of moths, lay their own eggs inside and instead of a moth larvae a new beneficial parasitic wasp hatches. This cycle repeats as long as there are moth eggs available. When the parasitic wasps do not find moth eggs anymore, they die.

To effectively break the development cycle of the moths, we recommend 4 releases of the parasitic wasps at 14 day intervals. With each release, 4 TrichoKarten, each fitted with about 2000 parasitic wasps eggs, are distributed close to the stocks. Like a mini-subscription, the cards are sent automatically at 14 day intervals.

The quality is decisive!

We have been breeding Trichogramma parasitic wasps for more than 20 years to biologically control different lepidopteran pests. The breeding and the provision of beneficial insects for a successful control requires a lot of experience and care.

Our application systems, like the TrichoKarte, have been tested and have been established in practice for many years. Especially for the use of beneficial insects a good consultation is important so that the beneficial insects work successfully.

You can purchase our beneficial insects on the TrichoKarte with different partners or online shops.

Control clothes moths in the household with parasitic wasps

It always affects only the best clothes! The larvae of the clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) love to eat holes in wool clothing. Often the damage is only detected when the feeding damage becomes visible or moths fly around. The larvae of the clothes moth are the main pest in our wardrobe. Besides the damage in the fabric, the 10 mm long, whitish cocoon tubes of the larvae are another sign for an infestation by clothes moths. The larvae can only develop on animal wool, that is why they infest especially high quality woolen materials.

The eggs laid by the female moths are about 0.5 mm long, white and only hard to find in the fabric. The young larvae are about 1 mm in size and of yellowish white color.

The flight of the clothes moth can be controlled by means of a pheromone trap. The moths themselves do not eat (they have atrophied mouthparts), they die after the oviposition. A female moth lives at room temperature for up to 14 days.

The control of the clothes moths is more difficult than the one of the food moths as the clothes moth has a much longer development time and the parasitic wasps have to search a very large surface (folded pullovers in the wardrobe, confusion by fine fluffy wool like mohair etc.).
Clothes moths prefer dark and quiet hiding places in dry and warm rooms. During their lifetime, the females lay up to 250 eggs on textiles, fur or feathers. The larvae feed on preferably keratin-containing (animal) products like real wool, hair or feathers. From these materials the larva constructs its cocoon tube for pupation. Clothes moths also infest carpets, fillings of old furniture, wall decoration, animal fur, trophies, etc.

Appearance of the clothes moth:

The 5-10 mm long and delicate moths have a grey-yellow color and fringes at the hindwings and forewings. The final size of the larvae just before pupation is max. 10 mm.

 Way of life of the clothes moth:

At temperatures between 25 and 30°C and a humidity of 70 % the larvae develop in about 2 months into pupae. Generally  up to 2 generations develop per year. The clothes moth is a mere  material pest. The larvae can chew wool, fur, feathers and textiles in furniture and wall coverings with their strong jawbones.

A damage can be prevented by taking a few simple measures:

  • Always air or wash worn clothes. Sweat residue attracts the clothes moths.
  • Keep wardrobes closed, the currently very popular open dressing rooms facilitate infestation by clothes moths.
  • Control valuable and rareley worn clothes regularly for infestation and keep them in garment bags or containers.
  • Regularly vacuum clean natural wool carpets thoroughly.
  • Control infestation by means of a pheromone trap. Attention: Only male moths are trapped!

Use of parasitic wasps against clothes moths:

The Trichogramma parasitic wasps are natural antagonists of the clothes moths. They feel most comfortable at temperatures above 20°C and are then most effective. The parasitic wasps have an excellent sense of smell and can localize the laid eggs by means of tiny parts of wing scales that the female moths lose when they lay eggs.

The control of the clothes moth with parasitic wasps is carried out over a period of 16 weeks.
As the beneficial insects only have a limited lifetime, they are newly sent 6-8 times at 14 day intervals and  replace the old cards. With each release, 4 TrichoKarten, each fitted with parasitic wasps eggs, are distributed in the wardrobes. Trichogramma parasitic wasps are egg parasites, that is they look for the laid eggs of moths, lay their own eggs inside them and instead of a moth larva a new beneficial parasitic wasp hatches. This cycle repeats as long as there are moth eggs available. The parasitic wasps are only interested in the moth eggs. When the work is done, they die and disappear inconspicuously in the house dust. They are neither dangerous for humans nor for pets.

In closed rooms the use is possible all year round. The parasitic wasps can only be stored for a short time. Afterwards they hatch, therefore use them immediately on receipt. Please do not open the cards. The side opening is sufficient for the small animals.
The control of the clothes moth is more difficult than the one of the food moth. The development cycle is much longer and it is often not easy to localize the source of infestation. Clothes moths can also have settled in carpets or old pieces of furniture. The control should only be started after a consultation.

Our brochure for the use of beneficial insects in the protection of stock and material:

Application of the TrichoKarten: per compartment with approx. 60-80 cm width and 50 cm height: 1 TrichoKarte each.

Infested textiles can be stored concentrated in one part of the wardrobe. All other textiles (cotton and synthetic fibers) in another one as they are not infested by moths.

The naturally active Neem is especially recommended for moth infestation in carpets, wall hangings, upholstered furniture and other home textiles. The Neem-product (spray or powder) also hits house dust mites. The frequently occurring carpet beetle (Anthrenus) and the fur beetle can also be treated with Neem.

The quality is decisive!

We have been breeding Trichogramma parasitic wasps for more than 20 years to control different lepidopteran pests. The breeding and the provision of beneficial insects for a successful control requires a lot of experience and care.

Especially for the use of beneficial insects a good consultation is important so that the beneficial insects work successfully. We will be happy to assist you with any questions.

You can purchase our beneficial insects in different online shops or directly with one of our distribution partner.

Trichogramma parasitic wasps

The use of Trichogramma is one of the oldest biological control methods in Europe. Already in the early 1970s, egg parasites were spread on the first corn acreages in order to control the European corn borer. The roots of our company also lay in the early stage of the biological control of the European corn borer in the 1980s.

Over the years the biological control was extended to codling moths and plum fruit moths, as well as to various pests in the greenhouse growing of vegetables or ornamental plants and in the meantime to lepidopteran pests in tropical greenhouses. About 15 years ago, the use of Trichogramma in the stored products protection was developed together with a partner.

Target pests for Trichogramma are the Indian meal moth (food moth), the common clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth that can be effectively controlled by the use of beneficial insects. Regularly new damaging moths occur. We test the possibility to control them by Trichogramma and develop appropriate control concepts.

Interaction Trichogramma parasitic wasp and target pest

The only 0.3 to 0.4 mm small Trichogramma parasitic wasps are natural antagonists of numerous lepidopteran pests. The tiny hymenopterans parasitize pest eggs, that means, they occupy them with their own eggs. The pest egg is eaten up while a little beneficial insect develops inside. After about 10 days, a young parasitic wasp hatches from the killed moth egg and looks for further moth eggs.

 The cycle repeats as long as there remain pest eggs. Naturally occurring populations are not sufficient for a successful control. A seasonal settlement is also only possible in a few cases. Therefore, the beneficial insects are bred en masse and targetedly released every year during the oviposition of the target pest.

In Germany at the moment 10 naturally occurring Trichogramma species are known. Of these we breed 4-5 species in large quantities and use them commercially. There are about 150 known Trichogramma species worldwide from which about 20 species are used for biological pest control.

The Trichogramma parasitic wasps may also be used against pests like

  • Bee moths in bee colonies and bumblebee boxes for the pollination in greenhouse growing

Application systems TrichoKarte and TrichoKugel

TrichoKarte and TrichoKugel have proven to be optimal application systems. They contain parasitic wasps in up to 10 different stages of life, in order to hatch in a period of two to three weeks depending on species and target pest.

Expertise and long-term experience

The team of AMW has many years of experience in the breeding of Trichogramma. Through the own development of new mass breeding systems and mechanical manufacturing techniques, today we are able to supply large quantities within a very short time.

Besides the mass breeding, in our laboratories we maintain a collection of more than 200 strains of 30 different Trichogramma species that amongst others come from outdoors baiting and collected pest eggs. Interesting breeding lines are checked by us in extensive laboratory tests and field trials in terms of their appropriateness for the control of damaging moths. In this way suitable antagonists of cabbage moth, codling moth etc. could already be determined.

The molecular biological identification of Trichogramma parasitic wasps

For the quality control of Trichogramma, criteria like number, lifetime, number of offspring, host acceptance and host preference are evaluated.
The morphological determination of the only 0.4 mm small Trichogramma parasitic wasps that are used against damaging moths in plants and also in the stored product protection is very difficult, because a preparation of the male genital apparatus must be carried out for it.
Due to species-specific host and habitat preferences of the individual Trichogramma species and the related suitability to control a specific pest, the taxonomic determination of the Trichogramma is indispensable.

In-house examination by PCR

The molecular biological examination by PCR is a possibility to reliably identify the different Trichogramma species. We regularly examine the Trichogramma species in our laboratory for different quality parameters and thus optimize the effectiveness for the control.

The beautiful pictures and movies of Trichogramma are the result of a cooperation of Mister Prof. Urs Wyss, University of Kiel and Bernd Wührer for the short movie on the Biology of Trichogramma parasitic wasps.

Biological control of beetles that damage stocks by store chalcids

The store chalcids are naturally occurring antagonists of some beetle larvae that damage stocks. Especially their ability to find larvae living hidden in the grain makes the parasitic wasps very interesting for the biological control.

The beetle larva is stung through the grain and is paralyzed. The parasitic wasp bores its ovipositor into the grain and lays an egg on the beetle larva. During growth, the larva of the parasitic wasp feeds on the beetle larva. After the pupation, the adult animal gnaws a hole into the grain and leaves it looking for further pests. At about 26 °C (70% humidity) the development takes about 3 weeks, whereby the females live approximately for two weeks after hatching.

A female Lariophagus distinguendus is only 2-3 mm in size. These beneficial insects are black and shimmer slightly metallic.

The following beetle species are parasitized:

Australian spider beetle
Flour beetle
Pea beetle
Lesser grain borer
Bean beetle
Grain weevil
White-marked spider beetle
Golden spider beetle (see below for detailed description)
Shiny spider beetle (see below for detailed description)

Rice weevil
Tobacco beetle

Additionally to the use of Trichogramma, the store chalcids can also be used against the larvae of the angoumois grain moth (Sitotroga cerealella) that unlike other moth larvae develop inside the grain.

Application recommendation:

Preventively 40 parasitic wasps can be used for 25-100 qm grain (depending on the situation). For storage, beneficial insects are introduced 2-3 times at 14-day intervals.  In case of infestation or treatment of empty rooms the beneficial insects may be applied curatively and the dosage can be adjusted.
The application and the number of beneficial insects always depend on the infestation, the warehouse design, the climatic conditions.

Control the golden spider beetle and the shiny spider beetle in half-timbered houses with the store chalcid Lariophagus

Golden spider beetles and shiny spider beetles appear en masse especially in hot summers or after reconstruction works and unsettle the residents of old houses or half-timbered houses. The golden spider beetle and the shiny spider beetle belong to the family of the spider beetle. They have a spherical body and their appearance reminds of spiders.

The golden spider beetle (Niptus hololeucus)

The golden spider beetle (Niptus hololeucus) can grow up to 5 mm long and attracts attention due to the dense golden yellow hair. It infests any types of grain and cereal products. But it can also be found in feathers, plant cushioning material and alternative insulation materials. It often becomes a problem in older houses with hollow intermediate floors. If the infestation establishes itself, significant damage to the building structure may occur.

The female beetle lays up to 30 eggs on the underlay. If necessary, they also cover longer distances in order to find appropriate feeding conditions for the offspring. The larval stages and also the beetles feed on animal and plant substances, but cannot develop further on textiles. The pupation takes place in a cocoon. With a temperature of approximately 20°C (70% humidity) the development from the egg to the beetle takes about 7 months, if the temperature is 5° higher, the development accelerates to only 70 days.

The shiny spider beetle (Gibbium psylloides)

Unlike the golden spider beetle, the shiny spider beetle also infests dried spices and herbs. With a length of approximately 4 mm the shiny spider beetle (Gibbium psylloides) is slightly smaller than the golden spider beetle. The body is more ovate, hairless and shines like glass in brown-red. Only the antennae and legs are covered with fine golden yellow hair. The females lay their eggs individually on the nutritive medium, and these become covered by crumbs and dust. The beetle is a light sensitive fellow that appreciates a humid environment.

The development from the egg to the beetle takes about 3 months at 23°C (70% humidity). The beetles can survive hunger periods without food for up to 50 days. The shiny spider beetles can cover longer distances in a short time but are not able to climb up vertical walls. When touched, they play dead for several minutes!

The beneficial insects should be released in an infested house in places where the beetles come out of the brickwork. For this purpose, existing openings can be used. If there are no openings, then small holes should be drilled in inconspicuous places.
To attract or to catch the beetles, double-sided adhesive tape can be applied. A laid out damp cloth may also attract the beetles.

Application conditions for the beneficial insects:

The beneficial insects can be released all year round, but the temperature should be at a minimum of 16-20°C, this means in spring one can start the control at the end of April.

Of course, during and after the use of the chalcid wasps no chemical treatment may take place, this also includes agents like, for example, kieselguhr. Like all beneficial insects, parasitic wasps are also very sensitive to chemical plant protection products and die. However the beneficial insects may be spread before the chemical treatment to control the hidden insect life stages. The waiting time should be 6 weeks.

Additionally, the pests can also be controlled by measures like big heat (60-70°C), big cold (-25 °C) or biological compounds like Neem before using the beneficial insects. Caution should be exercised with heat and cold as this can result in a damage of the materials.

We are happy to answer your questions about the use.

Pest monitoring

The first step for a successful control of moths in the household is a so called "monitoring", usually the catching of the moths with pheromone traps.

By means of specific acting sticky traps that bear the attractant of virgin female moths, it can be determined if and which moths are being active.

With a pheromone trap no female moths are caught and only a part of the existing male moths! Traps are a mere measure for monitoring moths. If male moths fly around, then the egg laying females are also around and Trichogramma parasitic wasps should be used for control.

The pheromones for the different kinds of food moths (Indian meal moth, Mediterranean flour moth, warehouse moth) differ from the ones for the moths that damage textiles (clothes moth, case-bearing clothes moth). If they stick on a trap for food moths, there is an infestation in the kitchen or in the storeroom, as food moths do not eat textiles and clothes moths in turn do not eat ceral products.

New kinds of pheromone traps, like our combined trap, catch both food moths and clothes moths, depending on occurrence. Moths can be distinguished by pictures on the trap.

Pheromone traps: easy to use and nontoxic!

The pheromone traps for the household are simply opened and positioned. They are immediately ready for use. Per room only one trap should be used so that the moths can orientate themselves to the scent. Too many traps have the opposite effect: they impede each other as the male moths loose orientation in the fragrance and do not find the sticky traps.

Places in which moths have already been observed are especially suitable as locations for traps.
While food moths also sit on open surfaces, clothes moths stay more in the wardrobe or near the ground (e.g. carpet). The traps should not be hidden from the moths and should not be positioned too hidden.

Control the traps and document the catches!

During the control or afterwards: it is always important to control the trap regularly and to document the catch. 1-2 times a week one should take a look at the trap and make a note of the number of new moths in the calendar or the enclosed recording sheet.

Combinable with the use of parasitic wasps

The pheromones last up to half a year, but should be replaced after approx. 3 months, in order to obtain a constantly good catching effect. The attractants for moths are completely nontoxic and are also of no interest for the Trichogramma parasitic wasps.

Pheromone traps bought ahead should be stored in a cool place, e.g. in the fridge or in the cellar, so that the attractant does not vanish prematurely.

Supplier in United Kigdom

Please contact:

Agralan Ltd
The Old Brickyard
Address: The Old Brickyard, Wiltshire SN6 6QR
Phone: 01285 860015