How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths

Read on for everything you need to know about dealing with these uninvited guests.

A close up photo of an Indian meal moth

Getty Images/John-Reynolds

If you've discovered pantry moths in your home, we know it can be an uneasy feeling. We've gathered all the information you need to know about pantry moths including what they are, signs you may have an infestation, how to get rid of them if you have them, and what you can do to prevent them in the future. If you notice a moth in your pantry, we recommend acting fast so you can get the situation under control.

What Are Pantry Moths?

Pantry moths are simply the name of a type of moth that lays its eggs on common household food products such as grains, beans, flour, nuts, and even pet food. While there are several types that can be considered “pantry moths,” the Indian Meal Moth, Mediterranean Pantry Moth, White-Shouldered House Moth, and the Brown House Moth are the most common types, according to Moth Prevention. They are small, and spotted with flecks of brown, tan, and/or gray colors and often fly in a zig-zag pattern. 

Signs Of Infestation

The National Pesticide Information Center says that a telltale sign of infestation is if you find an adult moth in your pantry, as females can lay up to hundreds of eggs on or around your dry goods. Their larvae are capable of chewing through cardboard boxes and plastic bags, meaning even unopened packages of food are at risk for infestation. Additionally, you may find webbing around the packaging, sticky secretions that causes your food to clump, or unusual odors in your cereal and grain products that could all be signs of pantry moth infestation.

The good news is that The Farmers’ Almanac says that a pantry moth infestation is not likely an issue with your home or your housekeeping methods. It’s more probable that the eggs were laid in a food production facility or in the grocery store’s bulk bins before the food products even landed in your pantry. 

How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths

Pest and termite control company Orkin advises seeking professional help if you have a pantry moth infestation. However, while you wait for remediation, it will be helpful to toss out any infested food, clean out food storage containers with hot water and soap, and vacuum or scrub your cupboards. Just make sure that your containers are dry before using again and that your pantry shelves and floors are also dry before remediation. You’ll also want to take out any trash filled with infested items out of doors as soon as you’ve edited your pantry for infested products. 

The National Pest Control Center advises inspecting all food products in your pantry if you have or think you may have a pantry moth infestation to prevent further damage. The items most at risk of infestation include cereal, grains, beans, nuts, flour, dried fruit, birdseed, animal food, spices, tea, chocolate, and candy. From there, you may want to store remaining uncontaminated items in your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below for several days to kill any eggs that may be present before placing them back in the pantry. It may also be useful to group the remaining uncontaminated items in one area of the pantry to monitor for further infestation until professional help comes to lay traps. 

How To Prevent Pantry Moths

There are some simple ways to prevent infestation, especially if your household uses a lot of dry goods that come in thin cardboard boxes or single-use plastic bags. It may be worth investing in glass or thick-walled plastic storage containers to decant your pantry goods into (plus, your pantry will look much more organized and aesthetically pleasing). You’ll also want to clean up any spills as soon as possible, as the pantry moths’ larvae can feed and survive on even small amounts of food hiding in a crevice or a dark corner of the floor. Additionally, you’ll also want to keep windows and door screens closed to keep moths out of your house.

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