can pantry moths make you sick

Can Pantry Moths Make You Sick?

In this article, we’ll answer the question, can pantry moths make you sick? We’ll discuss the dangers, allergies, and what to do if you accidentally eat a whole bunch of pantry moths.

What are Pantry Moths?

Pantry moths, or Indian Meal moths, are one of the most common moth species to infest our food. Their eggs hatch larvae and their webbing is found all over our pantry.

Pantry moths are small, winged insects that are often seen in pantries or other food storage areas. They are attracted to food sources and can lay their eggs in pantry items, which can then hatch and develop into adult moths.

Male pantry moths are typically shorter-lived than females and do not generally reproduce. However, both sexes can fly and may be seen fluttering around pantries in search of food. An adult moth is generally dark-colored with narrow wings.

They range in size from about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch. Pantry moths are not considered to be dangerous to humans, but their larvae can infest and contaminate pantry items, which can lead to food spoilage.

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Pantry Moth Infestation

If you have pantry moths in your home, it is important to take steps to control them and prevent them from infesting your pantry items. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Inspect pantry items regularly for signs of pantry moth infestation, such as small larvae or webbing.
  • If you find pantry moths in your pantry, remove all infested items and clean the pantry thoroughly.
  • Store pantry items in airtight containers to prevent pantry moths from getting in.
  • Keep pantry areas clean and free of food debris to discourage pantry moths from moving in.
  • Use pantry moth traps to catch and kill pantry moths.

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Take Action Immediately

It might make you sick just thinking that the pantry moths have been laying eggs in your pantry. You open a bag of flour, box of cereal, bag of pet food packaging – only to find little worms or pantry moths!

However, it seems like their unappealing looks are all that we should be worried about when it comes to this annoying pest. It’s crucial to take action right away. These pests can quickly lay eggs and infest pantries, cabinets, and other stored food.

Unfortunately, they can be difficult to get rid of once they’ve taken over an area. acting fast is key to preventing a pantry moth infestation.

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Indian Meal Moth or Pantry Moth Infestation: Can It Make You Sick?

Are pantry moths harmful? The short answer is no. Pantry moths aren’t known to carry any viruses, pathogens, or toxins. The thought of swallowing pantry moths without knowing may be unpleasant, but that’s generally about it.

Pantry moths lay eggs directly onto their food. This includes bread, cereal, rice, nuts, pasta, pet food, and candy. The eggs of these pantry pests can take anywhere from a month up to a year to hatch, depending on a variety of environmental factors.

This means that by the time you’ve discovered an infestation, you’ve probably already consumed some eggs, Indian meal moth larvae, and even whole baby moths!

Pantry moth larvae are difficult to spot because they don’t exceed half an inch in length. They’re either brown, green, yellow, or pink. They’re the main reason for infestation, and consuming large quantities of pantry moth larvae may cause some stomach upsets.

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Does this mean pantry moths are 100% safe to consume? Well, not quite.

Pantry moths might be small, but they can cause big problems. Not only are these pesky critters capable of destroying your food supply, but they can also carry disease. Pantry moths are often able to infest homes by hitchhiking their way in on food items.

Once they’re inside, they reproduced quickly and can be difficult to get rid of. In addition to being a nuisance, pantry moths can also carry diseases that can be harmful to humans.

Allergic Reactions to Pantry Moths

While most people don’t experience any ill effects from contact with these pests, some may develop an allergic reaction or gastrointestinal upset.

In rare cases, pantry moths have been known to carry more serious diseases such as salmonella and E. coli. If you suspect you have a pantry moth infestation, it’s important to take action immediately to prevent the spread of disease.

Even if they don’t trigger an allergic reaction, pantry moths can land or feed on poisonous substances. These substances can cause a spread of disease when consumed by humans.

Again, we’re talking about microscopic levels of toxins. But still if you are wondering: are pantry moths harmful? There have been no reported cases of serious illnesses from consuming pantry moths.

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What Happens if You Eat the Larvae?

The moth’s caterpillar is just as dangerous as the adult. In the vast majority of situations, there is no effect. On a daily basis, the number of caterpillars consumed is likely in the thousands, but we are unaware of this.

Basically, eating pantry moth larvae in food or flour will have no effect. There would be no influence on one’s physical state if you ate the larvae. Because pantry moths and their larvae are considered nasty, it solely affects one’s mental state.

The cereal moth larvae or Indian meal moth larvae are the most commonly eaten caterpillars.

In fact, in some locations and civilizations, these caterpillars are eaten routinely alongside other insects since they are plentiful in comparison to other foods and provide an additional source of high-quality proteins.

In terms of the human digestive tract, pantry moth larvae may be treated similarly to any other animal protein that must be digested and processed.

Unless one is allergic, there will be no effects.

moth in food

Indian Meal Moths Are Actually Delicious!

If you’re willing to overlook their unsightly appearance, you can actually get a lot of nutrients from pantry moths.

Did you know that pantry moths are considered a major food source in some countries? This is because pantry moths are packed with healthy fats and proteins. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a paper in 2013 detailing the benefits of eating insects, namely moths.

We’re not saying you should go ahead and have a healthy snack of moths every morning. However, you should know that pantry moths are more beneficial than harmful to your health. In fact, eating 100 grams of pantry moths can provide you with 100% of your daily requirements of calcium, zinc, iron, and potassium.

What Attracts Pantry Moths?

Pantry products are the simple answer, and this results to infested foods. It is important to keep your pantry clean and clean out food particles that could attract pantry moths.

Flour seeds, baking chocolate, teas, spices, grains, nuts, rice cake mixes, pet foods, dried beans, dried fruit, dried food, birdseed, and bread attract pantry moths. So, keep them away from your pantry shelves.

Because the pantry moths have ample time to complete their reproductive life cycle while within the packaging, an infested food suggests that it is probably far from fresh. Get rid of pantry items that may be infested with pantry moths.

How to Find Pantry Moths | Inspect Pantry for Meal Moths Infested Foods

If you find yourself with a pantry moth infestation, don’t panic – they’re relatively easy to get rid of. Here’s how to find pantry moths and get rid of them for good.

The first step is to find out where they’re coming from.

Check all of your food packages, especially any that are open or have been opened recently. You might also find them in cracks and crevices in your pantry or cupboards.

Once they’ve arrived as eggs on your grocery items, they would eventually complete their life cycle in your pantry shelves. The larvae feed, and they will burrow into the box or plastic to feed once they have hatched.

They then molt multiple times, increasing during the process, until pupating. Pupation begins with the creation of a cocoon, which they will remain in until they fully mature as an adult moth.

The next step is to clean your pantry thoroughly.

So, once you’ve located the source of the infestation, get rid of any infested food. Throw away anything that’s open, and seal up any unopened packages Tightly.

Vacuum all shelves and flooring, and wipe down all surfaces with a mixture of soap and water. This will help to get rid of any eggs or larvae that are present. Once everything is clean, consider using an insecticide to help prevent future infestations.

With these steps, you should be able to get rid of your pantry moth problem for good.

 Poisonous Moths to Look Out For

Just because pantry months aren’t poisonous doesn’t mean that there aren’t poisonous varieties out there.

Poisonous moths are very harmful and could be hazardous if ingested in large quantities. We’ll cover some of the most commonly found poisonous moths and how to identify them.

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Burnet Moths

The Burnet moth is also known as the five-spot or six-spot burnet. They look like pantry moths but have red spots on their wings. Their wings are also longer and narrower.

Be careful if you find one of them in your house. They’re extremely poisonous and release cyanide when attacked. Cyanide poisoning can cause headaches, dizziness, and can progress to loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest. If you feel any of the early symptoms, go to the ER immediately.

Lonomia Moths

Lonomia moths are known as giant silkworm moths. They’re considered highly venomous and cause several deaths every year, especially in South America.

You probably won’t come across a Lonomia moth if you live in the city. However, if you’re near a forest, you might find one lurking against the bark of a tree.

These moths have an anticoagulant venom in their urticating hairs, which can be lethal to humans.

Emperor Moths

Emperor moths are similar to pantry moths, but there are a few differences to consider. For starters, emperor moths have four dark circles on their wings. The males are paler while the females are intense brown, almost orange.

Emperor moths secrete a compound known as an anticoagulant. This is especially lethal to dogs, cats, or livestock. It can also have detrimental effects on humans since it increases bleeding and the risk of hemorrhages.

Zebra Longwing Moths

It’s easy to spot a Zebra Longwing moth. They’re black with white or yellow streaks across their wings.

Similar to Burnet moths, they also release cyanide chemicals. Cyanide is cytotoxic and can lead to severe health consequences.

small moth like bugs

Causes Allergic Reaction

You might not think of moths as being dangerous, but some species of moths can actually cause allergic reactions in humans. The Indian meal moth is one of the most common culprits. You might be wondering, how can pantry moths trigger an allergic reaction in the first place?

You’ll be happy to know that pantry moths don’t have the ability, nor the interest, to bite you. In fact, most moth species don’t have a mouth, to begin with.

Pantry moths also don’t sting. The main cause of allergies is the wings! Moths shed scales just like humans shed skin. The tiny particles then become airborne when they come into contact with other surfaces.

When Indian meal moths infest a home, they can release a protein that causes an allergic reaction in some people. If you think you might be allergic to Indian meal moths, it’s important to see a doctor so you can get the proper treatment.

People who are exposed to these particles can suffer an allergic reaction.

The symptoms are usually mild, and include:

  • Swelling
  • Tiny red bumps
  • Itching
  • Rash

If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t panic. There’s usually no cause for concern. They should resolve by themselves or with some antihistamines. Talk to your health care provider for more guidance.

The spikes on pantry moths can cause a condition called Ophthalmia nodosa. This condition affects your eyelids and can cause rash, swelling, and redness.

There have also been reported cases of respiratory distress from inhaling the spikes. In this case, it’s best to immediately visit the ER for closer inspection.

Getting Rid of Pantry Moths

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Even if you’re not allergic to pantry moths, you still need to constantly check your house for signs of infestation. You don’t want to end up with hundreds of thousands of pantry moth larvae and spoilt food. Here are a few tips on how to remove these health risks from your home.

The first step is, of course, identifying what kind of moth infestation you have. There are potentially thousands of species that could end up in your house.

Most likely, you’re going to have the traditional pantry moths roaming your home. However, it’s recommended to have a pest technician confirm the type of pest to ensure you’re not dealing with a poisonous moth infestation.

Removing Infestation

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This is where the pest technician comes into play. The technician may place some traps that release pheromones. These pheromones will trap the males and significantly cut the moths’ population.

Wipe off all pantry shelves with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and warm water. Add peppermint oil to the mixture. Peppermint oil is a natural insecticide and will help keep bugs away.

Use the same 50/50 solution to clean the floors. Once you’re done cleaning, remove the vacuum bag and put it in your outdoor trash can. Use your outdoor trash can to dispose of contaminated objects. Do not throw them away in your kitchen trash can because this will only spread the problem!

Clean your vacuum’s compartment completely to kill moth larvae hiding inside the filter.

By removing infested food products, you will be able to avoid creating a suitable environment for laying eggs. So be sure to clean out your food storage, bulk bins, glass jars, mason jars, food products, pet food bags, bird seed bags, or food storage areas.

These household pests won’t be able to lay eggs, and you will be able to cut their life cycle as early as possible.

Cleaning Thoroughly

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You should always clean your house thoroughly. If you’ve had an infestation before, then this step is critical. Poor housekeeping can be a cause of infestation. Be sure to pull out the shelf liners and clean them regularly.

If you do not keep your house clean, it can lead to an infestation. This is because crumbs and other food particles attract pests. Furthermore, clutter provides hiding places for pests. Therefore, it is important to sweep and vacuum pantry floors and shelves.

Wipe down surfaces with a vinegar solution, and store food in airtight containers. In addition, you should declutter your home to reduce the number of hiding places for pests.

Another possible cause of infestation is failing to seal up entry points. Insects and other pests can enter your home through cracks in the foundation, gaps around doors and windows, or holes in screens.

To prevent this, you should inspect your home for any possible entry points and seal them up with caulk, weatherstripping, or other materials. This will help to keep pests out of your home.

If you have had a pantry moth infestation before, it is critical to take these measures to prevent another one. This is because poor housekeeping and failing to seal up entry points are two of the most common causes of infestation.

Taking these steps will help to keep your home clean and free of pests

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Throw Out Infested Food Source

Pantry moths can lay their eggs in food, and the resulting larvae can contaminate an entire food supply. If you find evidence of pantry moth larvae in your food, it’s important to throw out the infested food immediately to prevent the spread of infestation.

Pantry moths can infest dry goods like cereal, crackers, grains, and even spices. These larvae can cause serious health problems if ingested, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Get rid of affected food like dried beans, cereals, pet foods, grains, macaroni, bird seed, and dried fruit. You’d often find a pantry moth infestation in the food packaging especially when you buy groceries from a natural food store.

If you see any webbing or larvae in these items, discard them immediately. It is also a good idea to inspect your pantry regularly for signs of infestation.

If you have had a pantry moth infestation in the past, it is crucial that you take preventive measures to ensure it does not happen again. Poor housekeeping can be a cause of infestation, so be sure to clean your pantry regularly.

Using Sticky Traps

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If you’ve ever found small moths fluttering around your kitchen, chances are you have a pantry moth infestation. Pantry moths are attracted to stored food, and their larvae can quickly contaminate an entire pantry or cupboard.

While there are various methods of getting rid of pantry moths, one of the most effective is to use stick traps. Sticky traps are small adhesive strips that can be placed anywhere in your kitchen.

The pantry moth traps work by attracting the moths with a pheromone lure, and then trapping them on the sticky surface. Over time, these pheromone traps will reduce the number of pantry moths in your kitchen, and eventually get rid of these household pests altogether.

These pheromones attract male pantry moths, breaking the cycle of reproduction. Place these in out-of-the-way places in your kitchen or pantry and inspect them for pantry moth catches on a regular basis.

Create Natural Meal Moth Traps

If you find meal moths in your pantry, remove all infested items and clean the pantry thoroughly. You can also try some natural traps to get rid of pantry moths.

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One option is to make a trap out of a plastic bottle.

Cut the top off the bottle and invert it so that it fits snugly over the bottom part of the bottle. Then, put some pantry moth food in the bottom part of the bottle (you can use things like flour or cereal).

The pantry moths will be attracted to the food and will go into the trap, but they won’t be able to get out.

Another option is to make a trap out of a cardboard box.

Cut some holes in the sides of the box and put pantry moth food inside. The moths will be attracted to the food and will go into the box, but they won’t be able to find their way out.

Whatever trap you choose, make sure to check it regularly and empty it out when necessary. With a little effort, you can get rid of pantry moths for good!

Kill Eggs and Pantry Moths with Cold Temperatures

Cold temperatures are an effective technique to kill pantry moths flying around! Keeping as many grain and nut goods in your fridge or freezer as possible will kill moths and prevent future breeding. Keeping these foods out of your pantry will keep pantry moths out as well.

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Preventing Future Meal Moth Infestation

Inspect Food Items at the Grocery Stores

The terrible thing about a pantry moth infestation is that you usually don’t realize you have one until it’s too late. To avoid this problem, you should take precautions before consuming your food.

Look for holes and broken seals in food packaging. If you see this kind of damage, notify the store manager or take it to the returns counter. Check the “Best By” date as well; older items allow trapped eggs to develop more slowly.

As soon as you reach home, inspect interior packaging (such as the bag inside a box of cereal) for any holes or damage.

While it’s preferable to throw away food that you suspect is tainted, you can also treat it. Adult pantry moths, their offspring, and eggs can all be killed by freezing the food for a week.

Another alternative is to microwave on high for 5 minutes. You can alternatively bake the food for at least a half-hour at 130° F or higher in a shallow pan.

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Store Food Items in Airtight Containers

Pantry moths can lay their eggs on pantry, in cracks and crevices, or anywhere else they find suitable. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will start to feed on pantry items.

If you find Indian moths in your pantry, remove all infested items and clean the pantry thoroughly. To keep pantry moths out, store all food items in airtight or sealed containers.

This will create an impenetrable barrier between pantry moths and their food source. By taking these simple steps, you can keep your pantry and food packaging free of pantry moths, and prevent affected food or infested products.

Use Natural Meal Moths Repellent

As mentioned above, the pantry moth is attracted to food sources, and their larvae can contaminate pantry items with their webbing and feces.

There are a few natural repellents that you can use to keep moths away. Male moths are attracted to pheromones, so you can use this to your advantage by using a pheromone trap. These traps will lure moths into a sticky trap, preventing them from reproducing.

Essential Oils

You can also try using essential oils to repel moths. Some essential oils that have been known to work include lavender, mint, bay leaves, cloves, and eucalyptus.

Simply add a few drops of bay leaves oils or other essential oils to a cotton ball or piece of cloth and place them in your pantry. You can also add these oils to a diffuser to help keep moths out of your kitchen.

Meal moths can be a real nuisance, and getting rid of them can be a challenge. But there are some natural pantry moth repellents that can help keep them away.

how do you get rid of pantry moths

Diatomaceous Earth

One of the best pantry moth repellents is diatomaceous earth. This natural substance is made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic creatures called diatoms.

When pantry moths come into contact with diatomaceous earth, it cuts through their exoskeletons and dries them out, killing them.

Cedar Oil

Another pantry moth repellent is cedar oil. This natural oil has a strong scent that pantry moths find offensive. Simply add a few drops of cedar oil to a cotton ball or piece of cloth and place it in your pantry. You can also add cedar oil to a diffuser to help keep pantry moths at bay.


Pantry moths are definitely not a pleasant sight. They dwell in our pantries, contaminate our food, and can sometimes trigger allergies.

Thankfully, pantry moths aren’t dangerous to our health. Even if you consume large amounts of eggs and pantry moth larvae, you shouldn’t feel anything beyond some gastrointestinal discomfort. Otherwise, you’re actually getting an extra source of protein!

If you’re still getting moths even when you clean, call a pest control company to check if there’s a specific chemical treatment for your needs.

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