Feb 07, 2020
A really common question customers ask is “How do I get rid of Pantry Moths?
The rapidly increasing presence of pantry moths in our homes brings with it a serious risk of food contamination, as well as an overall concern for kitchen hygiene. Hopefully you will find the resources on this website helpful in increasing your understanding of the issues, as well as giving you the knowledge to tackle any incidence of pantry moths appearing in your home.
If you suspect a pantry moth infestation in your home, the number one thought should be, act fast; pantry moths breed rapidly and with a short life-cycle, you may be alarmed at how quickly they multiply.
The chances are that if you’re reading this then you’ve already found signs of pantry moths. It is all too easy for us to have out of date food stored at the back of over-crowded shelves and left undisturbed for long periods of time.
Checking what you have and the act of moving pantry contents around will immediately have the benefit of ensuring you are not providing a safe, undisturbed environment for pests.
When you are checking your pantry, you can inspect each food container or bag individually - both for the use by dates and whether there are any ‘unwanted visitors’ residing there.
What are you looking for? Pantry moths may be present in flying adult form or in the earlier life-cycle stages (eggs and larvae).
Which foods are at high risk? Pay particular attention to cereal and grain based products. For example, breakfast cereals, oats, flour, pasta, lentils, popping corn, rice, nuts.
Dry foods for your pets, such as biscuits, are especially at risk as they tend to be stored in large bags that are not easy to reseal and keep moths out! And if you feed the wild birds in your garden don't forget to check the bags of seed, grain and nuts that you might have stored in your garage or garden shed!
Larvae are small but far easier to identify than eggs - they’ll be between ¼ and ½ inch long, and you may see some movement in the food.
Foodstuffs in their original packaging that are out of date and / or infested should be disposed of as they are. Similar foods in reusable containers should be disposed of carefully and the container retained for cleaning.
Even if you have stored your food in mason jars or kilner jars, it is worth checking in case they had been placed back in the pantry or cupboard with the lid not fully sealed, and if this was the case you may leave a future source of potential pantry moth infestation in place!
Also carefully check dried pet food and birdseed - common sources of pantry moth infestation.
Disposing of infested food should be done outside the home to avoid the risk of spillage and future re infestation - place infested and old food in bags that are then tied securely.
Rinse, disinfect and then thoroughly wash reusable food storage containers, either carefully by hand, or on a hot setting in your dishwasher.
With all shelving clear of food and containers, start by vacuuming all surfaces and paying particular attention to corners, cracks and crevices. Please do not forget the undersides of shelves, baseboards and floors.
Like with foodstuffs, empty your vacuum cleaner outside the home emptying the contents into a bag that you then seal / tie tight. Remember that there may be tiny pantry moth eggs in amongst the dust in addition to, potentially, moth webbing, cast off skins and cocoons.
Note that when emptying your vacuum, if it is a bagless type, you will want to wash out the dust container. If you have used smaller attachments you may also want to clean those thoroughly to ensure any sticky pantry moth eggs do not remain.
Then wash down your shelving and all surfaces using a disinfectant or watered down bleach and leave to air dry.
With paper-based shelf liners, throw them out because they may be harboring pantry moth larvae and / or eggs.
If they are plastic, they may be washed and scrubbed thoroughly in soapy water.
It’s best not to replace your shelf liners until you are sure that you are clear of pantry moths, or consider not using them at all.
Residual pesticides come in many forms but are broadly either chemical or natural - in kitchens you should only consider natural residual sprays for pantry moths.
Natural sprays to deal with pantry moths and pantry moth larvae will be effective for 2 weeks after application.
Ensure you cover all surfaces evenly and leave to dry. It will dry clear and provide ongoing protection against any remaining pantry moths coming into contact with it at any of their life stages, and yet be safe for people.
Do not place unprotected food on pantry moth spray treated surfaces and do not use the spray on food preparation surfaces or drawers with utensils / silverware.
The spray can also be applied to the seams and joints around kitchen unit baseboards.
If baseboards can be removed it is a good idea to do so, vacuum behind them (under standing units) and then apply the spray as the baseboards are returned.
Non-infested as new food should all be placed into airtight, sealed containers - plastic food storage containers or glass jars such as mason jars or kilner jars.
This is especially important for cereals, grains, flour , dried fruits, nuts and rice but you should consider this approach for all foods that are not already in sealed tins or containers.
Pantry moth traps have two main functions:
The most common pantry moth species is the Indian meal moth but you may also come across the Mediterranean flour moth - check out our kitchen moth identification guide if you need further details.
As they say, “Once bitten, twice shy” … keep alert and use some of the advice above to maintain your pantry and food cupboards.
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