How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths


You open a bag of entire wheat flour, a box of cereal, or a bag of dog meals only to locate tiny worms, moths, or even some webs. Ew! Here’s how to get rid of these pantry pests.

What Are Pantry Moths?

You have just encountered the Indian meal moth, maybe the most popular amongst the “pantry pests.” These moths can infest bags or boxes of flour, grains, dried beans, seeds, nuts, cereals, baking chocolate, cake mixes, rice, nuts, dried fruit, dog meals, birdseed, teas, herbs, spices, potpourri mixtures, and even decorative wreaths that involve nuts, fruits, and/or seedheads.

1 Cooperative Extension reality sheet describes what you have just noticed this way: “Most of the ‘damage’ to stored goods happens when the larvae spin huge amounts of silk that accumulate fecal pellets, cast skins, and egg shells in food products.”

Not a pretty appetizing image.

Exactly where Do Pantry Moths Come From?

Though you could will need to do some severe cupboard-cleaning, do not lay the blame for the infestation on your poor housekeeping. Meal moths probably laid these eggs at a meals-packaging facility or in the bulk bins at the all-natural food store.

Just after mating, the half-inch extended gray/brown female meal moth finds a appropriate atmosphere for laying her eggs—as several as 400 at a single time. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed and develop for various weeks ahead of spinning a cocoon (pupa), from which emerges an adult moth. Based on temperature, meals supply, and other elements, the meal moth’s life cycle lasts from a month to 10 months or longer.

Are Pantry Moths Harmful?

The fantastic news: This pest does not cause illness, even if you accidently cook and consume a couple of larvae (gross), and it does not escape your foodstuffs to consume its way via your fabrics or furnishings. It likes the exact same foods that you and your pets like.

The terrible news: Indian meal moths can be tough to eradicate, particularly if they’ve completed their life cycle and dispersed all through your pantry.

Pictures: Indian meal larva and adult moth. Credit: John Lyle, University of Florida.

How to Handle Pantry Moths

  • Initial, get the infested flour and any other infested goods you may locate out of your residence. Do not just throw them in the trash, unless you program on taking the trash out correct away. You could also dig a hole away from the residence and bury the infested solution(s) in the soil.
  • Do not shop that trash in the garage or basement though you wait for trash pickup or your subsequent trip to the dump.
  • Then, get rid of almost everything from your cupboards and meals-storage regions, which includes cans and glass jars. Vacuum and scrub all surfaces. Eliminate and replace torn or peeling shelf liners. Making use of a flashlight, spend specific consideration to the corners and the undersides of shelves, as properly as to cracks or holes in shelving.  
  • Meal-moth larvae have legs, and normally move very far from their original residence. You could locate larvae and pupae tucked away in door hinges, backs of door knobs, and corners of wire baskets underneath shelves, and about the edges of jar lids, cans, and non-meals things also stored in your pantry or cupboard.
  • The larvae can chew via paper and plastic. If (like me) you have a tendency to hold an assortment of nuts, fruits, and grains purchased from bulk storage bins and stored in plastic or paper bags, verify just about every bag for openings that could have permitted entry of meal-moth larvae, or for holes the larvae could have chewed themselves.
  • If you have issues, location any things that look intact with no indicators of harm to the meals inside, in the freezer at 0° or below for 4 days. That will kill any eggs that may be present.
  • Now, resolve to shop all pantry edibles in sealed glass or metal containers as quickly as you bring the meals goods into your residence. If a solution is infested, the larvae will not be capable to escape the container to contaminate other products.
  • Maintain modest bags of spices in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Maintain pet foods and birdseed away from the pantry in covered metal containers in a laundry space, garage or outside shed.
  • Hang seed-and-fruit wreaths outdoors. Greater but, obtain or make wreaths of twigs or evergreens that do not contain edibles.
  • Contemplate putting some meal-moth pheromone traps (extensively accessible on-line and in hardware, garden, and residence-provide shops). These traps monitor the presence of meal moths, and maybe stop a future infestation. The traps perform by attracting the male moths, who then turn out to be stuck to glue boards and die, unable to fertilize female moths. (Warning: Some people locate the glue traps a bit gruesome, given that the trapped moths are not killed speedily, but flutter for some time ahead of dying. )

    Note: Do not be deterred by unfavorable comments from other people who claim the traps didn’t perform and now they have moths flying all about their residences. These people are most likely are not seeing meal moths, but rather a single or additional of the several other Lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) that usually stop by home interiors.

Ultimately, please do not use insecticides to kill meal moths. Not only are they unlikely to be efficient, but several are not secure for use around food.

See additional about pantry pests—mice!

Do you have or have you had pantry moths? What did you do to get rid of them?


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