Galleria mellonella

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Galleria mellonella (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Galleria mellonella Linnaeus - (wax moth)

The moth is a serious pest of bee hives with a world-wide distribution and is found nearly everywhere where bees are kept. The larvae feed on the wax, pollen and honey. In addition, they contaminate the combs with their webbing. The damage by the larvae can cause the whole colony to leave the hive.

The development from egg, through up to 9 larval stages, to the adult moth depends on the temperature and can range from 2-6 months. There may be up to 6 generations per year. The adult moths do not feed and are active during the night when the females try to enter bee hives to lay eggs. The female lives for approximately 3 weeks.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Grosse Wachsmotte
• English: greater wax moth
• Español: polilla mayor de los panales
• Français: fausse-teigne de la cire
grande fausse teigne des ruches

Infested combs should be removed from the hive immediately. Fumigation of the hive is very effective, but can contaminate the honey. Various biological control agents are also available like entomopathogenic fungi, nematodes and Bacillus thuringiensis var. galleriae.

The moth belongs to the family of Pyralidae and has a wing-span of 30-40 mm. The forewing is greyish and the apical margin has a characteristic concave outline. In contrast to most moths, males attract females rather than vice versa.