What Are Grain Moths and Why You Should Get Rid of Them


In this article, we’ll discuss grain moths and why you need to get rid of them ASAP. Also, we’ll offer a few tricks you could try to keep moths away from your pantry.

Once, I opened a container of breadcrumbs to make fried chicken, only to find a moth inside. That was quite a surprise, but it could happen to you as well.

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But, what do you know about these intrusive little creatures?


What Are Grain Moths?


Grain moths, also known as pantry moths or Indian meal moths, are a type of winged insects that feed on flour and other grain products. These moths are quite common across the US, and you’ll mostly find them in pantries or kitchen cupboards.

These annoying pantry pests can make a home of the following packaged products.

  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Grains
  • Dried beans
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Cereals
  • Cake mixes
  • Baking chocolate
  • Dog food
  • Dried food
  • Spices and herbs
  • Teas
  • Birdseed


The lamest thing about pantry moths is that it’s usually not easy for you to discover them until they become fully grown. Often, the larvae will spin huge amounts of silk inside stored products, which is hard to notice.

This silk includes fecal pellets and eggs, which later hatch inside food products. Therefore, preventing a grain moth infestation can be quite tricky.

But have you ever wondered how these larvae found their way into your pantry in the first place?


How Grain Moth Infestations Start


A few scenarios could lead to a grain moth infestation.

Sometimes, the cupboard or pantry itself might house meal moth eggs. Yet, even if your housekeeping skills are immaculate, grain moths can still make it to your pantry.

The bigger reason why you might find a grain moth inside a box of flour can be traced back to the food-packaging process. Indian meal moths probably laid some of their eggs at the packaging facility, which, again, is hard to notice.

How does this happen, though?

After grain moths mate, the female moth looks for the perfect environment to lay her eggs, which can be up to 400 at a time. Usually, that place must be ideal for the larvae to feed and grow.

Then, after the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the flour or dried food to grow several weeks. Next, they develop a cocoon, then get out a full-fledged grain moth. Of course, their growth and development rely on a few factors such as:

  • Temperature
  • The type of food they’re eating
  • Moisture levels

The lifespan of a grain moth can be 1-10 months based on the previous factors. Sometimes, these nosy insects can live for more than that.

As you can see, the way that a grain moth can find its way into packed food is discreet. Therefore, most people tend to discover Indian meal moths in their stored goods after they’ve become adults.


Do Grain Moths Cause Health Issues?


Fortunately, grain moths have no negative effects on human health. If anyone consumes them by accident, which is undeniably gross, they wouldn’t need to worry about catching any sort of disease.

So, why do you need to get rid of pantry moths ASAP?

First off, those winged insects can multiply quite fast, not to mention that they’re hard to discover. So, even though they’re harmless, you definitely wouldn’t want your food with moths in it.

Second of all, they’re pretty tough to get rid of, especially if they’ve become fully-grown in your pantry. In this case, you can expect them to lay more eggs, which can have you going around in circles.

Therefore, it’s only wise to start looking for the best ways to reduce their numbers. So, what should you do if you notice grain moths inside your kitchen pantry?


Surefire Tips on Getting Rid of Grain Moths


Here are a few things you could try to eliminate pantry moths.


1.   Identify Infested Products


As we previously mentioned, it’s quite tricky to make note of a grain moth infestation. However, you may still be able to mark their trails if you pay enough attention.

You should look for larvae inside flour, pasta, and cake mixes since these foods are their favorite. Aside from larvae, it’s also important to look for webs to make your search thorough.

Of course, you shouldn’t limit your search to the previous products only. Look inside different sorts of cans, on spice jars, and even products that are completely sealed.

Don’t forget to check your pet’s dry food as well.

Once you’ve found out all their hiding places, you can move on to the next step.


2.   Take Any Infested Food Outside


As soon as you notice a grain moth infestation in any type of stored food, take this product outside your house. If you wish to throw it in the garbage, make sure to take the trash out the same day.

If not, then the right thing would be to dig a hole in your backyard and bury the infested products inside. It’s always better if this hole is as far as possible from your house.


3.   Wipe the Infected Areas With Vinegar


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Use undiluted vinegar to wipe cans, containers, jars, or boxes that have contained the infested food. Also, wipe the inside of your kitchen cabinets where these items were stored.

The vinegar will kill any remaining larvae that may be anywhere near the products you’ve removed.


4.   Clean Your Pantry Thoroughly


Of course, the previous steps aren’t enough to get rid of grain moths once and for all. To do that, you should consider cleaning your kitchen cabinets thoroughly.

First off, pull out shelf liners and wash them using liquid dish soap and water. Even better, you may want to replace them with new ones. Next, vacuum the shelves, focusing on the corners since moths and their larvae tend to hide there.

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Also, pay some extra attention to undersides, shelf brackets, and any mounting accessories. Then, vacuum the walls of the pantry along with the baseboards, floor, ceiling, and door. Don’t forget the knob and the hinges.

When you’re done, wipe all these surfaces with a solution of hot water and liquid dish soap. In addition to that, it’s always wise to use vinegar. Then, mop the floor as well.

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Now that cleaning up is over, take your vacuum cleaner outside to empty its contents. After disposing of the dust in your outdoor trash can, you should wash the dust compartment as well.


5.   Store Your Grains Elsewhere


Until you’re sure that the problem is over, you can’t use the pantry to store your food. Instead, consider placing your grains in your freezer if you have enough space. You can also store them in any other cabinet as long as it’s far from the infested pantry.

Still, putting your groceries in the freezer is a better option. This is because the temperature is below the freezing point, which will kill any remaining grain moth eggs.

You must monitor your pantry for a few weeks to ensure that there are no more grain moths inside. If they start appearing again, then you must look for any other spots you may have missed while cleaning your pantry.

Pay attention to wrapping paper, product labels, tea bags, etc. Taking note of such tiny details can save you so much trouble in the future.


6.   Put Your Grains Back Into Place


If several weeks have passed with no sign of moths, you can restock your pantry. However, it’s always a good idea to check for grain moth activity every now and then.

Remember, early detection of the problem will help you solve it more quickly.


How to Keep Your Kitchen Cabinet Moth-Free


Of course, you can always use a few prevention tips to keep those annoying pests away. You should start by following these steps.


1.   Freeze Your Grains Before Putting Them in the Pantry


A nice trick you can use is to put any flour, cake mixes, etc. in the freezer right after buying them. As you know by now, the low temperature will kill any eggs or larvae that might reside in the packaging.

Therefore, when you place them in your cabinets, you wouldn’t need to worry about a potential infestation.

Also, if your freezer is large enough, you can store all your grains in it and leave them there.


2.   Use Tight-Sealing Containers


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This tip can be helpful if the food you’ve brought from the store has grain moth eggs. Once you place infested flour or cereal in a tight-sealing container, the larvae won’t be able to get out.

Therefore, you’ll only need to throw away the containers of this jar without having to clean the whole cabinet.


3.   Put Moth Repellents to Use


Some herbs can repel moths, so you may want to keep those inside your cabinets to keep moths at bay. These herbs include:


  • Mint leaves
  • Bay leaves
  • Cedar
  • Lavender


Pro tip: Replace these herbs with fresher ones every once in a while so that they don’t lose their effects.


4.   Keep Your Pantry Clean


If any food messes take place inside your pantry, clean them at once. Also, you should scrub and wipe your pantry or cabinets a few times per year.

This should prevent grain moth infestations and alert you to any potential trouble. So, you’ll be able to act quickly before things get out of control.


Wrapping Up


While grain moths aren’t harmful to us, their existence in pantry food can be hard to challenge. Therefore, you’ll need to get rid of them as soon as you find out about them.

Hopefully, after reading our guide, you should be able to dispose of grain moths and prevent them from ever returning to your cabinets.

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