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Author: Lucy Cormack
Date: 17th of Feb 2016

Recent heat, humidity and rain have combined to create the perfect conditions for the city’s insect populations, particularly moths.

“We’ve had a huge increase in the number of inquiries on a range of different insects and spiders this summer,” said David Bock, coordinator of Search and Discover and Kidspace at the Australian Museum. “It is the perfect climate for insects breeding in big numbers and then spiders are feeding off that.”

While December rainfall was almost 20 millimetres above average, January’s falls were well above average, by around 150 millimetres.

February has since run quite dry, with temperatures slightly above average.Mr Bock said the warm weather means more eggs are hatching and surviving through to adulthood, causing havoc in Sydney pantries, where five-year-old packets of almond meal and once-used boxes of flaxseed abound.

“You can have adult moths laying eggs and those eggs becoming adult moths in a matter of months in this warm weather, where in colder months that same cycle can take up to a year.”

For Laura Maxwell, a moth infestation did not come after she had opened a bag of rice, but before.

“We had one in a closed bag of brown rice. I was literally horrified, they must have got in there during packaging,” she said.

The Bondi resident said the bag contained what looked like maggots and moths, describing it as “vile.”

“There were moving maggots in there and [it was] full of moths. The moths created some sort of web inside the packet. I took photos and complained to [the company] and they’re sending me $10 Coles voucher.”

Pantry moths are small moths of different varieties that feed on grains, nuts, rice and other dry food stored in a kitchen cupboard.

One of Sydney’s most common pantry moths is the Plodia Interpunctella, otherwise known as the indian meal moth.

Such moths will usually lay eggs in the food, undeterred by cardboard or plastic packaging, weaving small webs and creating clumps of food.

Competitive Pest Control recommends an annual clean-out to prevent an infestation occurring.

“It’s like any infestation. When you see one and when you see a baby, you know it’s breeding somewhere,” said Oliver Robbins, Competitive Pest Control customer service manager.

“I’ve taken maybe three calls about moths just today. Most pests in Sydney are pretty seasonal. Summer time you just see a huge increase in everything.”

He recommended washing cupboards with soapy water and using a cotton swab to clean crevices as a first step to eradicating a moth infestation.

Mr Bock said the key to removing an infestations is “sealing food sources”.

“Pull every single thing out, clean all the shelves and make sure you haven’t got a little colony. In their life cycle an adult could lay 300-400 eggs and they lay eggs directly onto the food source.”

The Australian Museum had received an increased number of inquiries about spiders this summer, and that too is linked to the warmer weather.

“With the range of insect numbers building there is a lot more food for spiders to feast on too, so spiders are laying a lot of eggs and more are making it to adulthood.”

Read article at The Sydney Morning Herald