How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths In Your Kitchen

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I really never thought I would write a post about how to get rid of pantry moths in your kitchen. I had never heard of pantry moths or the Indian meal moth until about a month ago. I was at a friends house and she mentioned, “I am so sick of these tiny moths in my kitchen!” They did not look like typical moths like the ones you see flying around outside light bulbs on your home. Well, of course, I had to look really close at the moths. I am not sure why I did, but I always like learning new things. The thing that’s different about these moths is the fact they are only about 1/2 an inch in length. I have only seen larger moths. I had my iPhone with me and we both decided to look up why these tiny moths could possibly be hanging out here. Lo and behold, they are called pantry moths.

I started laughing because I remember having mice in my house when I lived in Riverton, Utah. Before you scream out loud about anyone having mice in their home, I must tell you a funny story. I had the perfect neighborhood and to this day I wish I had not sold that home. The whole neighborhood would bring chairs outside with our lunch and laugh for hours. I mentioned one day that I caught six mice in one hour in my kitchen. I had to throw out so many things. Plus I had to disinfect everything. I must say, I am the expert on what kind of mouse trap to buy. Yes, indeed I am. My cute neighbors started laughing because I said “I had a family reunion this morning of mice in the kitchen”! I’m losing it! We all laughed.

We found the hole where those rascals were coming in, and with the new mouse traps I stopped the party. The girls all said, “why would the mice go to Lindas house when we have all the crumbs from kids under our kitchen tables”. We had a good laugh. It doesn’t matter how clean you are, the mice love to party. This is my favorite mouse trap: Intruder 16000 Better Mouse Trap 2 per Package So, my friend having pantry moths just made me laugh in a good way. I told her we would tackle it together. And we did. I store all my food products in hard commercial plastic containers like these: Rubbermaid Commercial FG630600CLR Space-Saving Container, 6-Quart Capacity with these lids: Rubbermaid Commercial 6509 8-3/4″ Length x 8.3″ Width, White Color, Linear Low Density Polyethylene Lid for Space Saving Container They are air-tight and I store everything in them. I still buy some OXO containers, but these Rubbermaid ones are my favorite.

Read More of My Articles  Back To Basics: How To Clean Your House

How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths In Your Kitchen by FoodStorageMoms.com

How Do Pantry Moths Come Into My House:

Pantry moths will come into your house via a package of flour, rice, beans, cracker or cereal, chips or most any food item from the supermarket. They are teeny tiny, almost invisible eggs that are in food packages and hatch larvae that turns into moths. You may see these tiny black/brown beetles that are very tiny bugs in corn meal, bird seed, flour, cereal, etc. You may see these cream colored worm-like critters climbing on your walls. The first thing you need to do is look for the oldest packages of food or spices you have. Yep, they love all the unopened packages as well. Oh, and those partially closed spice containers are a dream come true for these babies.

Places To Look For Pantry Moths:

  1. unopened packages, check the cereal boxes, the unopened bags, check the creases of the bags inside all boxes
  2. cracks in your cupboards
  3. spice containers
  4. breadcrumbs, even if unopened
  5. boxes with baggies-they love to hide
  6. check dried flowers
  7. check under lids, they can hide anywhere
  8. cupboard hinges
  9. vacuum all floor moldings, empty the bag and take the dust out to the trash
  10. they hide in the cupboard pin holes, its a perfect place to lay eggs
  11. use a pantry moth trap like this one: Pro-Pest Pantry Moth Traps – 6 Ready to Use Pre-baited Traps (3 Packs of 2 Traps) The female emits a similar pheromone substance as these traps when she is ready to mate. The male panty moths will follow the scent to the traps. The male critters will flock to the sticky mat looking for the female pantry moths. This should hopefully stop the pantry moth life cycle
  12. some people think if they put their food in the freezer it will kill the pantry moths. They actually go into a dormant stage sometimes and wake up when back in the warm comfort of a cupboard.
  13. pet treats and dog food are a delicacy to these critters
  14. children’s macaroni artwork is tasty, throw out the artwork when possible
  15. dried fruit, they will chew right through those bags or cardboard containers
  16. remove all cupboard liners, they hide underneath, vacuum everywhere
  17. nuts
  18. chocolate as in chocolate chips
  19. never buy a damaged box of food at the store because they may have some eggs hiding inside
  20. Jello gelatin boxes
  21. they chew through baggies

How To Clean The Pantry Moth Hiding Places:

I helped my friend by totally taking EVERYTHING out of the cupboards. We inspected for webs, larvae, egg and moths. We both washed down the top and underneath the shelves in each cabinet. Yep, they hide in crevices and corners.

Things you will need:

  • bleach/Clorox  spray
  • garbage bags
  • vacuum
  • paper towels to dispose of the webs, beetles, larvae, and moths
  • hot soapy water with rags you can throw out
  1. wash all cupboards with hot soapy water. I went one step further, I brought out the BIG guns (bleach mixture): Clorox Clean-up Disinfectant Spray Cleaner with Bleach Value Pack (2-32ounce bottles) w- 4 SOS Sponge I picked it up at the local supermarket. We sprayed, wiped and sprayed again all the cupboards, baseboards, countertops and window seals. We wiped down everything we thought a moth family might use to hide. She has not seen ANY pantry moths for a month now. Hopefully, we got the infestation under control and eradicated.
Read More of My Articles  11 Ways To Clean The Bathroom Quickly

Food Storage by Linda

University Of California Agriculture & Natural Resources

Comments from readers:

Pat:

Mom called them millers and we taped whole bay leaves to the bottom of the shelves. Just bought a bottle of the whole leaves in the spice isle, works like a charm. Change ’em every spring since it’s not generally a problem in winter.

Phil:

I swear by the traps I buy at Foster and Smith [they also have them on Amazon] I thought I got rid of all of them. I got the trap just in case since it uses lures to attract the males. I opened the package and I got swarmed. It was just a cloud of male moths following me to where I wanted to put the trap. Now I automatically put a trap up so they go there as soon as I get them. If I have a male in the trap, that means I need to look for where it came from.  I bought one on sale figuring that it was no great loss if it didn’t work. And besides, I got all of them right? I unwrapped the lure from the plastic and suddenly I had them all around me. Not too bad… Maybe about 6 or 7. I put the trap together. Took it to the spot I wanted it and there was a cloud of them following me. They even followed me to the bathroom when I washed the lure off my hands. Told the other half I felt like a Flour moth hooker…

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26 thoughts on “How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths In Your Kitchen

  • November 13, 2015 at 9:23 am
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    Gee, I’m not sure I understand the cleaning process; maybe you should come to my house & show me. Haha I used to own an herb shop & I carried a homemade dog treat biscuit made by a friend. They were packaged in little muslin bags (attempting the all-natural look). After a few weeks I started experiencing the little critters you mention & traced them back to the dog biscuits. We had to close down for 2 days to clean!

    Reply
    • November 13, 2015 at 11:31 am
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      Hi Linda, oh my gosh, you had to close down your herb shop for two days! I would love the natural look you are talking about but not the pantry moths! We all are here to help each other through this stuff, right? Thanks for the tip on the dog biscuits! Linda

      Reply
  • November 13, 2015 at 11:16 am
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    Thank you so much for researching this pest problem! My daughters family is living in my house in Arizona. The pantry is infested with these moths and it has been driving her crazy. They are remodeling a house to move into, besides all her responsibilities of raising her family. We will tackle this soon, loaded with your tips. Love that you share your great ideas on food storage!

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    • November 13, 2015 at 11:34 am
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      Hi Carla, thank you so much for commenting today! I guess this pantry moth problem is a real problem everywhere! Once you find the source of food they are feeding on you can get rid of them quicker. We found a box of crackers we thought were the culprit. Man, I scrubbed and scrubbed everywhere in that kitchen. It looks fabulous and no more moths! Blessings to you and your daughter. When in doubt throw it out. Linda

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  • November 14, 2015 at 8:22 am
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    Great info and tips!

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    • November 15, 2015 at 5:49 am
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      You never know when someone might need this information. Crazy critters!

      Reply
  • November 14, 2015 at 9:03 pm
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    Hi, I have sworn by clean cupboards and fresh bay leaves on every shelf. Every drawer too. Change them every 6 months WHEN you wash the whole cupboard down. I transfer all my food items from their supermarket packaging to Tupperware or glass jars.
    Yes, the horror of the dog food. Goes from the triple lined bags into tupperware storage. And I make my own dog treats. Used to buy those, jar them and watch the bugs fly around in the jars.
    So yes, they are gross. Read the section about the mice. I so scrub fiercely the 1 time mice got in the house. Heard a talk on radio today, if you see/catch one, you might just have 7. They bring friends when they arrive to visit.

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    • November 15, 2015 at 5:52 am
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      Joyce, you make me laugh, yes those mice bring friends when they arrive to visit! Those pesky pantry moths do not care how clean our cupboards are, they come in boxes from the store to visit! I wrote this post because I had never heard of them until NOW! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love it! Happy Sunday! Hugs! Linda

      Reply
  • March 15, 2016 at 10:35 am
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    Thanks for the tips on where to look for them and how take care of the problem if they start in the house. This makes me worried about eating moths. I will be paying much better attention now after reading this!

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    • March 15, 2016 at 11:06 am
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      Hi Meagan, I think we are all aware NOW about pantry moths and we are ALL looking a little closer at our food! I had never heard of them until last year!! Thanks for stopping by! Linda

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  • March 25, 2016 at 8:29 am
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    Thank you for the advice! As of this time we have 1 mouse. It doesn’t like peanut butter or the humane traps so I’ve been praying it’ll leave. haha

    Any suggestions on what to put in there NOTHING else that I’ve tried works and I’ve wasted $$ time and effort!

    Thanks for the moth info. I”ll file that one.

    Reply
    • March 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm
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      Hi L, we catch mice every day in our yard. We use traps with peanut butter. I’m not sure our traps are humane but it keeps them out of my house. I bought the traps called:The Better Mouse Trap by the Intruder. I bought them on Amazon. Fingers crossed you get rid of them 🙂 Linda

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  • August 3, 2016 at 1:21 pm
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    Hey L I had the same problem with what I thought was a mouse in the house. It also wouldn’t eat peanut butter. It got into a bag of potatos under the sink, so I baited the trap with a piece of potato and removed the potato bag. Bingo! What I caught wasn’t a mouse but a mole that had come in the house for whatever reason. Problem solved.
    J W

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    • August 3, 2016 at 6:50 pm
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      Hi Jimmie, I think we all have some kind of critters to deal with at times! My husband puts peanut butter on the mouse traps outside and somehow the peanut butter disappears! LOL! I can’t imagine finding a mole under the sink! Yikes! We have to use the bait those little critters like to eat, good job finding that mole! Linda

      Reply
  • August 10, 2016 at 3:49 pm
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    Your mouse story has me cracking up, because frankly it’s the truth. It doesn’t matter how clean your home is, sometimes pests are so stubborn that they will find a way in! Thank you for sharing the tips.

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    • August 10, 2016 at 4:03 pm
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      Hi Rachel, I’m so glad my mouse story had you cracking up! I have to laugh or I would go crazy! I live in Southern Utah and we catch about 3-5 of those pesky mice every week, thankfully outside. LOL! Have a great day! Linda

      Reply
  • December 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm
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    My last bout of these came from a bag of birdseed we couldn’t sell at the feed store. My boss horrified me one day when I held up a bag of sunflower seeds with webs inside and asked if we were throwing it out — he took it from me and shook it all up and scrubbed the seeds around so the webs detached and were hidden in the seed. He put it back on the shelf. Probably had already taped over a large mouse hole in same bag. I left that job as soon as I could. Moth larva can chew through plastic, so even if something looks sealed, and you don’t see moths or worms, don’t be fooled. Look in the top corners for webs or what seems to be static holding a lot of tiny particles of food (actually its the webs, just too thin to see sometimes). Then gently turn the bag upside down, examining the bottom corners for the same thing. Sometimes you just have to dump the food out into another container and look closely at the bag. Also, they especially like to hide in the extra bag material that creases or folds on the outside bottom, top or sides of the bag — plastic and even more on brown paper type bags. I think their favorite food is anything made from corn. I really am stunned you had not encountered these until recently.

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    • December 2, 2017 at 4:37 pm
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      Hi Penquin, Your comment is the best! Your boss taped over a large mouse hole, oh my gosh! You what’s crazy I had never seen or heard of pantry moths until I helped this neighbor. I must tell you one thing, I live in Southern Utah and everything I have that is edible is in airtight containers. The crazy thing when I was helping my friend, I opened a box of cereal and lo and behold I could see little webs inside the bags.They got in those unopened bags at the store I guess. What’s crazy I then started hearing more people had them. Now when I see little moths flying in homes…..I think they have pantry moths. Crazy little critters! Linda

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      • June 29, 2018 at 9:29 pm
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        I read Penguin’s post and I am familiar with those webs. I used to buy large bags of bird food from a feed store and I used to store it in big jars and I also used to feed them whole peanuts, so I kept those in jars too.
        I used to find little bugs and that fuzzy stuff inside the metal screw on lids all the time. Now I buy the 10 lb bags at my closest Walmart and I have no problems. I dump the seeds into a large container with a lid (Looks like a trash can) or I just scoop from the bag and then roll it up tight.

        In regards to bugs in general, an exterminator told me that it’s common for people to introduce bugs when they buy food. They often infiltrate the packaging, lay their eggs under the edges of labels or folds of bags and boxes, and then after you get home they show up. Often times the grocery stores are where they originate. And careless (dirty) stores are bad places to shop at.

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        • July 1, 2018 at 6:42 pm
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          Oh, Frank, those pantry moths are crazy!! Yes, we do indeed bring them home in food items! I’m glad to hear you figured out how to keep from getting them. Thank you, Linda

          Reply
  • June 29, 2018 at 11:18 am
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    I work at an Extension Service and every year someone brings in a sample of the moth wanting to know how to control them. I’ve known of homes where the infestation is so bad that they had to tear out the drywall down to the studs. Anyone can bring them home so no shame in asking for help right away before real damage is done. I love all the comments about bay leaves. The one time I brought them home in dog food I used a trap that was effective. Good topic to bring up, Linda. Thanks.

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    • June 29, 2018 at 4:37 pm
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      Hi, Debbie, oh my gosh, tearing out the drywall!! Yikes!! I have heard dog food is the most common. Not sure about that, but it makes sense. You are right anyone can bring them home, that’s why I wrote about it, I started hearing more and more people were asking about how to get rid of them. Thank you for commenting, Debbie! Linda

      Reply
  • June 29, 2018 at 7:28 pm
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    We had lots and lots of them in a former home. Tried the traps but didn’t do much. The most effective was using our small hand held vacuum and having fun sucking them up in the air…..great fun! We got rid of them…..by the way, they also get into fabric where you might find their cocoons. So before we packed to move, I washed every item I could….never found any more in the next 2 homes we lived in.

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    • July 1, 2018 at 6:40 pm
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      Hi Sandra, wow, pantry moths in the fabric, yikes!! So glad you got rid of them!! Linda

      Reply
  • June 30, 2018 at 7:51 pm
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    I had these moths for an entire year. I tossed the food in boxes in the pantry cabinets and thought the ones flying around would just starve to death. Thankfully they fly so slowly that I was able to reach out and grab some. But they didnt starve out. I never thought to look on the bottom of cans and the larvae were under there. So a 2nd cleaning of the pantry. Then they got into the popcorn ceiling in the bedroom adjacent to the kitchen and laid their larvae. I used an ant and roach killer spray for them but had to manually pick out the dead larvae on a vaulted ceiling. What a year-long nightmare.

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    • July 1, 2018 at 6:44 pm
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      Oh my gosh, Angela, the popcorn ceiling, yikes!! I’m so sorry you had a year-long nightmare. They truly are a real nuisance! Thanks for sharing, we all learn from each other!! Linda

      Reply

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