How Do I Get Rid Of Pantry Moths? - 10 Steps To Pantry Moth Prevention

Feb 07, 2020

pantry moth prevention

How Do I Get Rid Of Pantry Moths

A really common question customers ask is “How do I get rid of Pantry Moths in my house?"

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 as the pantry moth life cycle is short, you may be alarmed at how quickly they multiply.

With this guide you'll be able to get rid of pantry moths in your pantry, kitchen and home taking control in the role of the pantry moths exterminator.

 

Are pantry moths harmful?

Pantry moths aren't reported to sting or bite, however they are a nuisance and having pantry or kitchen moths in food cabinets increases the risk of eating tiny moth larvae - for example it's common to discover moth larvae in rice, flour or open packets for bird seed.

You may now be wondering are moths edible?! This isn't something we'd advise and all the more reason to get to your pantry moths treatment plan - killing pantry moths, pantry moth eggs and the pantry moths larvae.

 

Step 1 - Regularly check your Pantry

The chances are that if you’re reading this then you’ve already found signs of pantry moths and you're asking yourself why do I have moths in my pantry?! And where do pantry moths come from?

It's all too easy for us to have out of date food stored at the back of over-crowded shelves and left undisturbed for long periods of time.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 resulting in moths in the pantry and kitchen cupboards.

pantry moth larvae indian meal moth larvaepantry moth infestation indian meal moth

 

Step 2 - Check all food stored in your Pantry for Moths

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!

This is another reason pantry moths can also be referred to by names such as; bird seed moth, flour moths, grain moths, wheat moths, food moths, cereal moths or even rice moths.

Pantry moth larvae are small but far easier to identify than food moth eggs - they’ll be between ¼ and ½ inch long, and you may see some movement in the food.

What attracts pantry moths is the presence of open food containers in which they can lay their eggs. If food isn't regularly disturbed and moved around, the flying pantry moth may go unnoticed enabling effective breeding, eggs developing into pantry moth pupa or larvae and on to their adult flying form.

We've detailed out the pantry moth life cycle in another handy moth prevention guide to the life cycle of pantry moths.

 

Step 3 - Dispose of all Pantry Moth-infested Foods

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 meal 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. Getting rid of infested food means you're on the path to getting rid of meal moths, but we're only part way through our journey to getting rid of pantry moths for good.

 

Step 4 - Clean Your Containers

Rinse, disinfect and then thoroughly wash reusable food storage containers, either carefully by hand, or on a hot setting in your dishwasher.

If you were wondering how to kill pantry moth larvae and eggs - then a thorough clean of containers with hot soapy water will rid you of any remaining pests that weren't thrown out with the infested food.

This is a vital step to pantry moth eradication that must not be missed. Pantry moth eggs are tiny and easily missed by the human eye!

pantry moth infestation dishwasher clean

pantry moth infestation moth proof storage

 

Step 5 - Clean out your Pantry / Kitchen Cupboards

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.

It's easy to spot adult flying pantry moths in kitchen cabinets, but less so to spot the pantry moths eggs. Getting rid of moths in kitchen cupboards means getting rid of their eggs too!

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. 

Commonly, what causes pantry moths to re-appear is a lack of thorough cleaning at this stage - so invest in doing this extensive clean and you'll likely only need to do it once - as opposed to a few weeks down the line wondering why are there moths in my pantry again?

clean pantry pantry moths pantry moth

 

Step 6 - Deal with Shelf Liners

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.

 

Step 7 - Use a Natural Residual Pesticide for Ongoing Protection

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. This level of thoroughness is how to eliminate pantry moths and ensure they don't return.

 

Step 8 - Replace non-infested food

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.

moth proof food storage can moths eat through plasticmoth proof food storage containers

  

Step 9 - Set up Pantry Moth Traps to Defend and Monitor

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.

Pantry Moth Pheromone traps to catch and kill pantry moths are a critical part to answering how to get rid of pantry moths forever - but on their own may only be effective at raising the alarm that a moth infestation in kitchen cupboards is just beginning.

Mediterranean Flour Moth get rid of pantry moths
Mediterranean Flour Moth get rid of pantry moths

 

Step 10 - Be Ever Vigilant!!

As they say, “Once bitten, twice shy” … keep alert and use some of the advice above to maintain your pantry and food cupboards.

In particular:

 

Identifying Pantry Moths

There are four types of food moth (or pantry moth) to look our for within your kitchen.

The most common pantry moth species is the Indian meal moth but you may also come across the Mediterranean flour moth, Brown House Moth and White Shouldered House Moth.

All will settle where there is a supply of food, resulting in an infestation where larvae can soon become a serious problem. With a single female able to lay up to 600 eggs an infestation if left untreated can result in the expense of food wastage, as well as hygiene issues for your family. Click on the images below for more information about each species.

mediterranean food moth indian meal moth adult brown house moth white shouldered house moth

Mediterranean
Food Moth

Indian
Meal Moth
Brown
House Moth
White Shouldered
House Moth

 

Exercise caution when treating an area where food moths are evident. Only products found within our Food Moth Treatments category should be used in kitchens. We have developed a Food Moth Killer Kit specifically for this purpose and it comes to you with a clear and simple to follow guide, as well as a 5% discount.

 

Preventing Panty Moth Infestations

We hope this article has answered the question “How do I get rid of Pantry Moths?”.

It may feel like a lot of work to do this thoroughly, and some expense, but it will save you money in the long run and avoid a hygiene problem getting out of control.

You could ask a professional pest controller to apply a treatment although with a pantry moth killer kit and some work in vacuuming/cleaning, it should be relatively inexpensive to do this yourself.

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