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How To Get Rid of Pantry Moths

Do you hate pantry moths buzzing around every time you go to get the groceries out of the back of your car? Have you contemplated moving houses just because these little critters make your life a nightmare? Does your significant other give you hard time for not taking care of the problem?

Well, there is an easy solution to fix the problem and prevent it from coming back.

About Pantry Moths

Pantry moths are mostly harmless to human beings, in the sense that they do not bite but they can still be very annoying. These insects avoid sunlight and are attracted to dark corners. Hence, they usually come out at night. They inhabit dimly lit areas where there is an ample supply of food such as nuts, flour and cereals.

They breed in moisture. The pantry is the perfect place for a moth colony. The easiest way to identify a moth infestation is adult moths flying out from behind objects when the objects are moved. At first, you might think that directly spraying the pantry with insecticides would solve the problem instantly, but it does not stop larvae from growing and the moths from repopulating.

Plus the food in the pantry that has not been infested will be wasted and deemed inedible.

 Identification Guide From the University of Nebraska


What Type of Pantry Moths Am I Dealing With?

Pantry Moth is essentially a catch all term for any flying moths you may discover in your kitchen feeding on your stored away foods. The most common species of pantry moths include the indian meal moths or mediterranean flour moths.

For the purposes of this guide, when we mention pantry moths we are referring to either the indian meal moth or the mediterranean flour moth. It could even mean both of them at once because there are cases where both species of moth is present in a pantry infestation.

The Pantry Moth Life Cycle

Similar to most insects, pantry moths go through a complete metamorphosis meaning that they  go through a life cycle starting as an egg, then becoming a larvae, then going through the pupa stage and finally reaching adulthood.

Often the phase of the pantry moth life cycle that is most commonly spotted which signals an infestation is the adult moth flying to and fro in the pantry. At this point the pantry moth damage has been done and they have already contaminated selected foods in the pantry.

From beginning to end, the life cycle of the pantry moth can be accomplished in as quickly as a month or nearly a year long depending on a number of different factors such as the environmental issues, temperature and the type of food consumed. In warmer temperatures, the life cycle can be done quicker.

The Pantry Moth Egg Phase

If you’re wondering how you can identify a pantry moth egg, they are grayish to cream colored and extremely tiny. A female pantry moth has the ability to lay 400 eggs in one sitting.

These eggs will be deposited directly onto the stored food product that the larvae would use to nourish themselves once the egg hatches. Thus, a female moth will be flying around looking for a food source to lay her eggs. After about a week, the pantry moth egg will hatch.

The Pantry Moth Larvae Phase

The larvae stage is actually the most destructive phase of the pantry moth life cycle because it is where the larvae relentlessly feeds on everything within its reach. Once the pantry moth egg hatches out comes the larvae which looks similar to a worm.

The pantry moth larvae is about half of an inch long and has five pairs of legs and almost looks like a caterpillar.

Pantry moth larvae can often be confused with weevil grubs. Pantry moth larvae are whitish colored, but they can vary in color depending on the food their are eating as there have been instances where the larvae can have a greenish, pinkish or brownish hue.

Pantry larvae are vicious eaters and are even knock to drill their way into soft plastic or cardboard to satisfy their hunger. Once the larvae has developed enough (after about 40 to 50 days more or less), the larvae will finally stop feeding and transition into a pupa.

The larvae will leave behind the wreckage and contamination they caused on the stored food in the form of casings, droppings and bodily waste and find a place to pupate.

The Pantry Moth Pupa Phase

Pantry moths pupae are usually found laid out in an open space in a pantry or even in a cocoon that has been spun with webbing. Pantry moth larvae typically pupate away from the food source they had been feeding on, and would go to a crack in the pantry shelf or even the seams on the door or other spots to pupate.

Other times when locations to pupate are scarce, the pantry moth larvae will just go ahead and build their cocoon directly in the stored food product which is a large reason that infested food will have webbing in it, making it further unfit to eat. There are rare occasions when a pantry moth larvae will travel away from the pantry itself to pupate, for instance a closet. This act may often make people mistake them as a clothing moth.

The size of pantry moth pupae is between 1/3 of an inch long to 1/4 inch. When in the pupation cocoon, the pantry moth pupae will stay in this transitional phase for the duration of 15 or 20 days.

The Pantry Moth Adult Phase

When you discover a pantry moth flying around it has reached the adult stage. The primary objective of the pantry moth once they have reached adulthood it is simply to multiply and bring on the next generation of moths. Pantry moths can be a nuisance, flying erratically everywhere throughout the house, ordinarily around evening time. Whenever they see light they will start drawing themselves towards it and will also be searching around for a mate.

The female moth will discharge a pheromone or attractant into the air which will help the male moth to find her so she can lay her eggs. Pantry moths don't consume anything in the adult phase and thus they have a very short lifespan, lasting between 1 to 2 weeks long.  Be that as it may, with the capacity of the pantry moth to lay 400 eggs at once, if you have an infestation, there will be plenty of them to deal with even after they pass.

Adult pantry moths are about half an inch long, and are 5/8 of an inch with wings spread open. Depending upon the kind of pantry moth the color may be different. An indian meal moth has a reddish tint on the back area while the upper part of the moth is grayish . A Flour moth is on the other hand dark and gritty white.

Pantry Moth Adult Stage will last 7 to 13 days.

Why Pantry Moths Are Such A Big Concern

Whenever a pantry moth makes its presence felt in your kitchen and begins their pantry moth life cycle, often from the moment you grab a food item from the grocery store which they may have been mistakenly shipped in, very quickly their population will grow in alarmingly large numbers with the larvae looking to consume everything it sees in your stored food area.

Trust us when we say pantry moths are not picky when they eat. Pantry moth larvae will track down even the most insignifice pieces of food found on the floor of the pantry to nourish themselves, or they will work their way  into old boxes of grains and cereal boxes and will literally drill holes into the cardboard to get their food fix.

Pantry moth webbing has been discovered in the craziest of places. If your stored goods are near the back of the pantry, the infestation may be quite severe due to the fact that it is dark and generally undisturbed back there, an ideal situation for pantry moths to thrive. Soon enough, the pantry moths will start to work their way forward to satisfy their hunger and target your other food items, leaving no stone unturned.

If there is a cereal brand you haven't been in the mood to have for a long time or a box of goodies that you forgot about, the pantry moths will surely eat it on your behalf. 

Getting rid of a pantry moth infestation can be very costly because often to be on the safe side you need to throw away every food item you have in your pantry, new or old, because they all could very well be contaminated.

Pantry Moths can be the bane of your kitchen's existence because of their prevalence and annoying, unsanitary behavior. When you have a pantry moth problem, you'll need to dispose of pantry moths immediately before things get really out of hand.

Warning Signs that You May Have Pantry Moths

The most clear sign that your kitchen has been compromised by the presence of pantry moths are if you open the door of your pantry and catch a moth flying around, attract to the light you just turned on.

When you catch a pantry moth flying seemingly from “out of nowhere” around your kitchen, you must immediately go to your pantry and check all your food sources and WE MEAN EVERYTHING.

What you’re going to want to look for is any webbing material (which they use to make their cocoons) or maggot looking moth larvae in your older dried food boxes.  If you don’t find anything in there, focus your inspection by check the cracks and corners of cupboards and cabinets for webbing. If you have any plastic containers where you store dried foods, check those as well to locate the source of the pantry moth problem.

In many cases it really doesn’t matter to much what type of pantry moth problem you have since the techniques to control this type of pantry pest is largely the same and doesn’t vary by species.

Pantry Moth Control Preliminary Measures

Once you have discovered an adult moth, you have to get to the bottom of where the pantry moth infestation is. This means emptying out your pantry and doing some serious prepwork for pantry moth control

Once you have tracked down the source of the pantry moth infestation it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Any stored food product that has pantry moths in them needs to be discarded immediately.

Pantry Moth Sanitation: Leave No Stone Unturned

In many cases, it’d probably be better to just throw all your dried food products out to save yourself some time and not leave anything to chance. By eliminating the food sources that the pantry moths love so much, you make it so the infestation doesn’t carry on after intervention.

All infested food items or possibly infested items should be tossed into a trash bag, and tossed outside. Don’t leave it anywhere inside your home or garage or else you’re going to be having pantry moth problems wherever you left them and not just in your kitchen pantry.

If you are not wanting to start your pantry over from scratch, you can go through the tedious process of inspecting every box you have, even if it’s brand new and unopened. Break the seal, open everything up and check.

Aside from the pantry food, check other items that could be a pantry food target. You would be surprised to find pantry moths in places you don’t expect such as on your kids macaroni art on your fridge doors, pastas, doggie snacks, candy jars etc.

Don’t ignore your canned goods! While pantry moths usually are found in boxed dried foods, you should inspect your cans and jars because pantry moths are known to pupate on the rims and lids of cans. If you see webbing on your unopened cans, wash them with vinegar.

Clean and Vacuum the Pantry Moths Away

Once the food is all checked and the suspicious products are tossed. Break out the vacuum and suck up all the cracks, crevices and corners of your emptied out pantry. Get the baseboard, door trim and practically every inch of the pantry.

Get your favorite spray cleaner and wash and spray down all the pantry walls, flooring and even the inside of the door hinges and the door jamb since these are also prime places non-adult pantry moths can be found.

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned up your pantry, empty out your vacuum bag and take out the trash!

Pantry Moth Ongoing Prevention

We’ve received plenty of phone calls and emails from frustrated homeowners and customers ruminating about pantry moths making a return despite their best sanitation efforts. What we’ve said to them is that it may not be your fault. Pantry moths can arrive in a variety of ways--you can even grab a product off the supermarket shelf which may have pantry pests.

Unfortunately, the food you purchase from the store having pantry moths is out of your control. However, as long as you take proactive measures with whatever food you have in your pantry like doing regular checks or moving pantry foods to a hard plastic container rather than their original cardboard container, you’ll have less pantry moth outbreaks.

5 Ways to Get Rid of Pantry Moths

  1. Clear out the infested

Your first objective is to identify the source of the infestation. Once that is done, take out all the foods that have been infested and throw them out of the house. Don’t throw it in the kitchen basket because that would just spread the problem instead of reducing it. Take out the trash, take it out to the curb and far away from the house.

The reason for this is to get rid of any possible eggs that might be left behind in the rotting food.

  1. Take it all out of the pantry

Once you’ve rid of the visibly infested foods, take everything else out of the pantry to another area of the house like the kitchen or the yard. Inspect the pantry for webs, sticky substances (honey spills) and dry residue (flour). Check under the lids of bottles and containers as well for webs. Pay special attention to corners, hinges and edges of the cupboards.

  1. Spray, vacuum and wash

Now that the pantry is completely empty, you are free to spray insecticides to kill the moths. You may hire a professional for this fumigation process. Next step is to vacuum the inside of the pantry for any residue or eggs left behind. Lastly, wash the pantry with hot soapy water and a towel or scrub with vinegar. Vinegar is a natural repellent to pest and prevents them from returning because of its alkaline properties.

  1. Everything should be dry

Before you restock your pantry, make sure everything is dry and crisp. To do this, you may use clean paper towels or a hair dryer, whichever is easily available. Wipe the floors, the ceilings, the back and sides to make sure all the nooks and edges are wiped completely. Moisture provides perfect breeding grounds for pests and if there is any moisture left, it might provide an opportunity for the pests to return.

  1. Natural home remedy

Although there is no scientific evidence to support this, a lot of people believe that bay leaves, cedar, rosemary, thyme, cloves and lavender act as natural deterrents for moths and other pests. It is a home remedy which keeps moths away and gives the pantry a fresh new aroma.

  1. Bonus tip: Prevention is better than cure

To prevent occurrence of the problem in the future:


With so many ways to seal up your pantry products, there is not reason not to go wtih prevention. 

  • Try using air tight containers to store flour, cereals and nuts. This helps kill any existing eggs and pests and prevents new ones from getting inside the containers

  • If you stock a lot of groceries, make sure you use the old items first and restock with new ones from time to time. There have been many instances where people store certain items and forget about them. Every time they have a need for it, they buy new ones from the store while the old one rots away in the pantry

  • Keep everything in rotation. Moths and other pests do not infest items which are moved regularly

  • Regularly checking for infestations stops the problem from growing too big

  • Take care of messes and spills as soon as they occur. Do not be lazy! Do not postpone! Moths are like any other insect. They are drawn to unhygienic conditions. They are a symptom, rather than a problem. They are a sign of tardiness. Keep everything clean.


WikiHow has a good Instruction Guide for Cleanup Pantrys for Pantry Pest

Use Professional DIY Products to Help You Get Rid of Pantry Moths

Solutions Pest & Lawn offers a full line of pantry moth control products and have put together some easy to use kits and guides to help you with your DIY pantry moth control. We would recommend you start with a residual insecticide aerosol, some pantry traps and and insect growth regulator.

There are a variety of pheromone traps available(such as Pro-Pest Pantry Moth & Beetle Traps) to attract and trap the pantry pest and we have traps for your specific pantry pest problem so as noted on the identification section, it’s important to note what infestation you are having so you can select the correct product.

Insecticide treatments are vastly effective for controlling pantry moths. There are products which offer no residual control but act as a fumigant. We offer direct contact treatments, that can be applied to the clean out area, and crack and crevice sprays, (such as Pyrid Aerosols)

Insect Growth Regulators  (such as Gentrol) can also be applied for difficult to identify pantry pests. Sometimes you cannot easily determine where the infestation is coming from and all steps have been performed to eliminate the food source. Insect Growth Regulators have been proven to offer an added layer of control on top of a residual spray.

You can get all the best products to treat for pantry moths or any other pantry bug with our Guaranteed Pantry Pest Control Kit. Purchase it today and your pantry foods will soon be safe from the threat of pantry pest contamination.


Find Your Pantry Pest Traps at Pantry Moth Traps

For more information, contact us at 800-479-6583 or email us at askapro@solutionsstores.com.


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