Pantry moths are the little flying insects you may find appearing out of nowhere in your kitchen. While they seem innocent, seeing one of them is enough to signal serious trouble ahead. We will walk you through the simple steps needed and show you how to get rid of pantry moths.
The good news is that there are several ways to get rid of these creepers once and for all. We’ve been getting many questions asking us how to get rid of kitchen moths. So, we decided to gather the best ways of eliminating this pesky insect in this article.
Let’s dive in!
Where Do Pantry Moths Come From?
These common household pests are also called Indian meal, flour, or grain moths. The adult moths are usually half an inch long with gray or reddish-brown wings.
Moreover, the adult females lay eggs within dry food products. The eggs then hatch into larvae that are also about a half-inch long with an off-white color. They munch on dry foods until it’s time to metamorph. This is when they move into dark corners or cracks, spin silky cocoons, then develop into adults.
When you buy dry goods, there’s always the chance they contain moth eggs or larvae. This can be a result of an ineffective package sealing. It can also result from moth larvae eating their way through the paper and plastic of the packages.
Pantry moths have also been known to fly in through the window. Then, once they find food and shelter, they set up camp in your home.
Pantry moths can live from 30 up to 300 days, depending on the weather and the available amount of food. However, adult moths can survive for only a couple of weeks maximum.
So, why does it seem like there’s an endless array of them flying around? The reason is that the female can lay up to 400 eggs during its lifetime, that’s why it seems like they’re always there.
How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths
Getting rid of pantry moths can be tricky. You need to do a thorough job to make sure you get every last one. The good news is that there are several things you can do to remove them from your pantry and keep them away for good.
What you’ll need:
- Disposable cloths for wiping
- 50/50 vinegar, water solution or kitchen spray
- Toothpicks/cotton ear pads
- Vacuum cleaner
- Disposable garbage bags
Step 1: Know Your Enemy
If you’re reading this, you probably already know you have a kitchen moth infestation in your kitchen. But just to be sure, there are three things you should look for. The first is the pantry moth itself, which is easy to spot.
The second is the larvae. These have a maggot-like appearance and can be found within your dry food packages. They can also be hiding away in cracks between the shelves or in the corners.
The third is the cocoon. Look for web-like silk that’s very fine. It could be around the edges of lids. You may also notice full cocoons stuck to the corners of packages or pantry shelves.
Step 2: Empty the Pantry
Everything you have stored in your pantry has to come out. It’s the only way to do a thorough check of every single product in your pantry.
Some people remove everything from their pantry at once. Others prefer to do it shelf by shelf, so it’s more organized. You can go with what works best for you.
Step 3: Remove All Contaminated Packages
It’s sad but true. You have to throw out everything that’s been contaminated. Remember, larvae can chew through plastic or paper. This means that nothing in your pantry is safe. Once it hits one bag of flour, it can easily move on to others, such as oatmeal, rice, cereal, nuts, birdseed, and even pet food.
Place everything in thick plastic garbage bags and throw them out of the house. Don’t keep anything inside the house, or you may risk moving the infestation to other parts of your home. Remember that, despite their name, pantry moths can breed anywhere, not just in the kitchen.
Step 4: Do a Thorough Clean
Once you’re finished with the rundown of your pantry, it’s time for a deep clean. Using a disinfectant kitchen spray or hot water and soap, wipe down every surface in your pantry. Don’t forget to get those corners where cocoons or larvae may be hiding. You can even use a toothpick, toothbrush, or cotton swab to make sure nothing is hiding in any corners or cracks.
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After you’re done, dry everything off. Now would be a good time to carefully vacuum the pantry or cabinets. Pay special attention to the inner and outer corners, as well as any cracks. When you’re finished, change the vacuum bag immediately or empty the canister. Make sure you get rid of it outside and away from your home.
The next step is to do a second cleaning with a 50/50 solution of warm water and white vinegar. This ensures that there are no remaining eggs anywhere in your pantry.
Afterward, wash all your food containers and canned goods in hot soapy water. Make sure you’re not missing any cracks, bends, or corners where cocoons might be nestled away. Let all containers dry completely before returning them to the pantry.
Step 5: Control and Prevent
There are a few things you can do to make sure you never have another infestation of kitchen moths ever again.
To find out if there are any remaining moths, you can use sticky pheromone traps. These act as a moth trap because the male moths are drawn to the pheromones. They then stick to the glue and die. The Trappify traps use scientifically engineered pheromones to trap all common species of months in North America. No pesticides are ever used in Trappify products.
Bear in mind that pesticides don’t work on pantry moths. Besides, it’s not safe to use pesticides anywhere near your food.
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To prevent a recurrence, you can try to add your choice of peppermint or eucalyptus oils to the vinegar/water solution. It’ll deter any pantry moths infestations in the future.
Another tried-and-true preventative measure is fresh bay leaves. Tie them up in the pantry and leave them hanging. They can stay fresh up to a week before you need to replace them.
You can also use cedar blocks to prevent kitchen moths from coming back as they’re a natural repellent. They do a great job of getting rid of musty odors because they absorb moisture. All you have to do is frequently sand down the surface of the cedar block. This helps expose the block’s fresh fibers.
Some people swear by the freeze treatment. This is when you put goods in the freezer for a couple of days to kill moth eggs that may be present inside the packaging. This works best with unopened packages, especially anything you’ve recently purchased.
Then, when it’s time to remove the packages from the freezer, take a look inside. If you notice any dead moths or larvae, throw it out immediately.
When you’re sure it’s safe, store the foods in airtight glass jars. You can also use hard plastic containers to keep your food fresh and well-protected.
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Wash and Dry
Another good idea is to wash bottled or canned goods when you buy them. Also, make sure you wipe the outside of their lids. It’s even better if you can transfer the contents to an airtight container before placing them in the fridge. Throw out the original jar and lid.
A Final Note – How to get rid of pantry moths
After reading our foolproof tips, you should now be an expert on how to get rid of pantry moths. It may take a big chunk out of your day, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
After all the wiping, reorganizing, freezing and replacing, you know that nothing will ever get past you again. Remember, with newly-found order in your pantry comes the need to keep your kitchen clean, restocked, and happily moth-free!
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