Whether Indianmeal or North American High-flyer moths have invaded your kitchen, they can be a persistent pest. This guide is about getting rid of pantry moths.
By tpat1979 1
I am having a problem getting rid of meal moths. I have emptied the cabinets and washed them. I have opened packages of products to check for them and thrown away things that they were in and put the remaining items in the freezer but I am still seeing them.
Margie from New Haven WV
May 11, 2011
It's weird how bay leaves work for some, but not for others, I don't know whether it's the variety of moths, or where you live, or some difference in the bay leaves. They don't work for me, so I'm going to go try the minty gum. At least the pantry will smell nice!
Cleaning is definitely the key, and sealing everything. Canning jars are better than popcorn tins, tightly-sealed tins are better than plastic containers, and plastic bags are strictly temporary, they will chew through them. The Pantry Moth traps do some good. I've caught a lot when I had a heavy infestation, and surely that reduced the next generation some, but they're not going to get every last one, so don't expect them to. If you've got larvae in furniture and crevices of your cabinets, maybe an insecticide fogger will take care of them; it's an extreme measure, but probably better than moving!
By jeff 1
Can pantry moths get into the cupboard shelving material itself?
By Jeff from Sacramento, CA
February 28, 2011
I have adjustable shelves in my pantry and found out that the moths are nesting in the small holes running up the sides of the cabinet. I used tweezers to pull out the webbing from each hole and am going to use a q-tip to coat each hole with peppermint oil. I'm not sure if it will work yet but I wanted to let everyone know about their hiding spot since I have been fighting them for so long and never thought about those little holes in the cabinet.
We are trying to stay clothes/pantry moth-free since an infestation in September of last year. We are really scared of finding holes in our clothes again. Is it true that spray starch attracts and nourishes larvae? Can we use spray sizing on our clothes instead? Any cleaning secrets that moth-infestation survivors have to share?
We will not breathe a sigh of relief until we have one pest-free year. So far, so good. Any additional assistance is most appreciated. Also, is it safe to put whole cloves in the pockets of clothes? Is is truly safe to use lavender to repel moths? We've read that moths like herbs, spices and plants, too.
NewYorkParis from NYC
By guest (Guest Post) Flag
October 22, 2008
An idea - make an insecticidal bait by mixing flour and borax and leaving it in an open container in the pantry. The moths will go first for the easy to get at stuff, eat it, be poisoned and die. Mark it WELL so that nobody will use it as food by mistake.
I had a pantry moth infestation. I threw 3 trash cans full out because of them. I put basil leaves in the panty after washing everything down. I put basil leaves throughout the pantry, but 2 days later I had 3 moths that I killed with a fly squatter. I bought traps from Home Depot and haven't seen any in the traps, but neither have I seen any moths. Coming to my front door I saw 2 moths flying around. I tried waving them away, but how can I keep them from coming in when I open the door?
December 27, 2014
A friend of mine uses this and says it kills them off. She also uses Bay leaves in every crack and crevice, even behind her stove. (Get them at the health food store) She also puts peppermint oil on cotton balls and leaves them in the corners of her cabinets and pantry and under her house too. (Spider and mice also hate peppermint) She also has Zero problems with roaches.
1/2 cup Vinegar
1/2 cup Water
15 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
5 drops Peppermint essential oil
10 drops Lavender essential oil
8 oz Spray Bottle
Pour the vinegar and essential oils into the spray bottle.
Fill the rest of the bottle with water. You may need slightly less than 1/2 cup.
Shake vigorously before each use.
What can be done about little moths that seem to be taking over our house, kitchen and upstairs too! I think they started in the bird seed or pasta.
By Rob R
April 1, 2014
Oh man, those things are pesky! I don't know any other way to get rid of them except to cut off their source of food. Put all pasta, flour, cereal & anything that is in an open package in airtight plastic or glass containers. Check everything for little cobwebs & worms before you put it in your pantry. Throw away anything that has these in them because you'll just re contaminate anything else if you don't. Clean your cabinet with good old soapy water, rinse & let it dry before putting your stuff back in. It's a pain in the tail when you get those things! I don't bring any birdseed in the house anymore I opened a bag & those things flew out!
After having seen these pesky moths around my kitchen area I finally decided to clear out the cabinets to check and see where they are coming from and sure enough, I discovered that my kitchen cabinets were infested with moths and worms mostly in the back in the corners where you normally can't see easily and in most of my opened and unopened bags and boxes.
I cleaned all shelves down with bleach and of course discarded and threw in outside garbage the contents of the cabinets. Now they have nothing to feed on, so why am I still seeing some later on that same day that I just did a thorough extermination of these annoying pests? Should I stop seeing these pests immediately or does it usually take a few days to stop seeing them completely or could I have possibly missed something or maybe they are harboring somewhere else in my home?
June 13, 2012
If you are still seeing them, they are still laying eggs and you will have more. They can have nested underneath the rims of still unopened jars. I even found some nesting in a book of matches, underneath canned goods, between nesting bowls, in cracks of woodwork around doors, in my living room drapery folds, behind picture frames, in my dog treats, in my cat's litter, between magazine pages, and more places than I care to remember.
Like other moths, they are extremely resilient. Getting rid of the food is just the first step in a long battle, one I never hope to fight again. I went through cupboards sometimes 3-4x/day and kept finding them--I'm not sure if I missed them or if they re-migrated there. They seemed to get smarter about their hiding places too. I found that they flew around very early in the morning and late at night, which were prime times to kill them. I hunted them for months, and when I thought I finally got them all, a few weeks later, the ones I missed were flying around.
Now, absolutely no food comes into my house before going through it and placing it in a sealed, thick plastic bag. The funny thing is, I was always a very clean, thorough housekeeper. If it can come down on me with that vengeance, anyone can have problems. I think it all started when I brought home infested cat litter. Good luck.
I had a bad case of moths a few years ago. I finally found that my problem was a bag of pecans in the shell that we had stored in the laundry room until we could get them all shelled out, and the moths started there and migrated to my pantry. I bought moth traps that can be ordered from this link: www.gardensalive.com
They worked very well for me, and I now transfer all packaged goods into glass jars with screw down lids. This works in two ways. It keeps the moths in if you should happen to get a product that in infested. And it keeps them out of a product that is not infested. They don't always show up right away. Some just hatch out in time.
Another thing that helps to keep them out is to freeze products like oatmeal, flour, pasta, etc for a week or so before putting them in the sealed jars. I label my jars with masking tape. Many things are obvious, but I have regular flour and self rising flour, and it needs to be labeled. Hope this is helpful to many, as this is a terrible problem to tackle.
By Harlean from Hot Springs, AR
How on earth do I rid my cupboards of kitchen moths? I live in a rather humid climate and in summer we have no AC and so flies, moths, and critters find their way into my house, as well as others. I do not like using harsh chemicals, like Raid and those aerosol things as they are highly toxic. Are there home tips for this? I know yes, I clean the place often, it has nothing to do with that. It is the climate and the humidity. Also silverfish, the little buggers keep coming back, I have even replaced all carpets and put in Pergo flooring, yet I have still spotted a few. Help.
I use Hot Shot Kitchen Bug Killer, once a month. It is especially made for food preparation areas. Follow the directions on the can for different types of insects. Works for me! Get it at your local Wal-mart store. (04/27/2005)
By Antique Lady
Hate to break this to you but Pantry Moths are really extremely hard to get rid of. I also use and swear by Hot Shot Flying Insect Killer (blue top can) from WalMart. It is cheap and it works. In the beginning you will have to get rid of anything that isn't well covered and that has larva in it. The larva can even get into bags of cereal so check everything! Put everything good in tight One Zip bags or Tupperware containers.
Spray your cabinets well on the inside and shut the doors. Spray your entire kitchen and keep doors and windows closed for an hour or so. Pay extra attention to the woodwork and trim of cabinets. They like to lay eggs there. The smell from Hot Shot dissipates quickly.
Do this once a week until you see no more moths, or for at least 2 months. Then spray every 2 weeks or every month. My sister was so infested with these nasty and persistent moths that they were all through the house. It took 6 months of weekly spraying to kill them all and they have not been back for a year.
Check out "pantry moth" in any Search Engine for more info. Unfortunately spraying chemicals is the only way to get rid of them. Lehmans has Pantry Moth sex lure traps, but they really don't work well enough if you have an infestation. The moths hatch like every 2 weeks and if you aren't spraying every week you will miss some, and they will lay more eggs and multiply like crazy. I speak from experience. The best thing about Hot Shot spray is that the odor does not linger. It is about the best I have found and it is not as expensive as the name brand bug sprays. Best of luck to you---just remember to spray consistently every week until they are gone. (04/27/2005)
I have just read that insects and mice do not like bay leaf, so put a few in the cupboard and in your flour and cereal and it should keep them away. (04/27/2005)
By Susan from Hamilton
There is a moth trap that they sell at hardware stores, like Big R or Home Depot, its a small cardboard box that you fold out (it comes packaged flat). It has a glue inside that attracts the moth. Its a lot better than spraying stinky bug spray around. I hope this helps! (04/27/2005)
Well, you have enough advice on moths.The herbal way to get rid of silverfish is to put costmary (herb) around your linen and paper areas, especially books. Silverfish like moist areas, so just having a fan circulating the air is a bonus. I once bought a bag of dog bones and it was infested with moths, check everything that is has grain in it, pasta, cereal, and flour. Clean down surface with lavender cleaner, that should help. (04/27/2005)
The product Pakjc mentioned is called Pantry Pest and it does work in an enclosed area like a pantry. But I've had them flying all over the house for the past few months. Think I brought them in with birdseed. (04/28/2005)
Try Lysol Disinfectant Spray! It isn't toxic to you but will kill all kinds of buggers (like 'flies' in-flight!). Try it, you'll never use poisons again! (04/28/2005)
I was wondering where to get those foggers, Walmart, huh. I need to get some replacements, as we are moving again. Hope Walmart in Canada carries them. As for moths, I freeze all nuts so that the oils in the nuts don't go rancid. Anything that has cereal grains in it, I freeze for 3 days. This prevents any eggs from being able to hatch. I do this with all flour coming into my home and I don't get any moths, beetles or whatever hatching later. Often these little bugs may crawl in at the warehouse or anytime during the trip from field to your cupboard.
As a Home Economics teacher I teach my students this method to help keep their homes bug-free. There are usually a few "uuugghhhs!" about unhatched eggs. I also store any left-over cereal products in the freezer over the summer to prevent critters in September. I learned these things my second year of teaching because of tiny beetles in some pasta that was lurking in an undiscovered cupboard. (06/20/2005)
I have used the Pantry Pest for my kitchen with great success in the past. They were in everything flour, pasta, rice, cereal, even unopened boxes/bags. I got the Pantry Pest and put everything in plastic sealed containers and in no time they were gone. Its not expensive and works wonders. (01/05/2006)
I am battling these again myself. One thing that was successful for me before was to paint the pantry completely, remove shelves and paint all surfaces with a fairly thick coat. That was after throwing out everything and washing the surfaces down. The paint sealed up any tiny crevices in the shelves and killed any residual eggs. My kitchen linens are stored there too, and they liked to nest in the folds of items not used frequently. Wash in hot water and dry in dryer to destroy any eggs or larva. I also used the traps. (07/25/2007)
I read elsewhere to clean first then put out in lids (up high if you have small children...I have placed mine on a ledge above the cabinets), a mixture of one part boric acid to three parts corn meal. Straight boric acid is not obtainable anymore, but Roach Proof and other brands of roach killer will have 99% boric acid in it. Check the label for content as some have less percentage. This takes a while since there will be hatchlings coming along. This may be just an additional method. As the rest of you I am desperate. (12/12/2007)
Pennyroyal oil is an excellent insect repellent, and is used in many commercial preparations. Just remember that a few drops will go a long way. The oil is extremely potent, and extremely toxic if taken internally. (06/01/2008)
I would be interested in knowing anyone's results in using bay leaves as a kitchen moth deterrent, as has been mentioned at this site by several feedback posters. Just last night, on my umpteenth round of cleaning moth larvae from my cupboard, I found them nesting in my box of bay leaves. Now what? (10/08/2008)
To the person who ask about the uncooked rice--the moths love uncooked rice! In fact mine came in a large bag of Jasmine rice from Sam's Club. The apartment complex has bombed the kitchen for me, but it doesn't touch them. I was using a hanging closet treatment designed for storing clothes, but people tell me they are actually dangerous to our health, and they aren't working anyway.
I'm going to try the basil, bay leaves, and boric acid mixture. My mom used to use 1/3 boric acid, 1/3 confectioners sugar, and 1/3 cornmeal for roaches and it worked, so maybe it will help with the moths. Thanks guys. (11/24/2008)
By mothed up
We ended up buying Tupperware-like containers for all our food. Foil and plastic bags were no match for these critters. The biggest culprit was rice, granola bar boxes, and the sugar-based cooking supplies (chocolate chips, cookie sprinkles, etc). But after we thought we put all our food in containers, we still saw the moths. We searched the pantry again, and found an open granola bar wrapper full of larvae. Once those were destroyed, we haven't seen another moth for over a month. (01/08/2009)
By Dave C
I lived in a house years ago and got these in my pantry. I had taken everything out of the pantry, cleaned shelves, walls, and looked up at the ceiling. It had a texture called "popcorn" on it and looking close, I could see the larvae in between the texture. I took my vacuum with the brush attachment and thoroughly vacuumed the ceiling, not caring if I took the texture, also. Then I also vacuumed everything I could see. When finished I put the non-disposable vacuum bag outside after dumping it in the outdoor trash. It was winter in Missouri, so after a few days, I felt safe in bringing the vacuum bag back in. I never saw another moth the whole time we lived there. Also never bring bird seed inside, store in a metal container outside. (02/20/2009)
Does anyone have a tried and true, natural form of pest control for pantry moths (other than pheromone traps and storing everything below 50 degrees)?
By Bprince from California
I bought a trap from www.stirtsystems.com. It does not use toxic chemicals, but uses bio-pesticides instead. It works well in capturing pests and is good for the environment. Best of luck! (04/06/2009)
These things are nasty aren't they? Unfortunately they lay eggs that turn into yucky little worms in things like flour, cereals, anything they can get into. I don't use chemicals, but either refrigerate my boxed items, or enclose almost everything in containers with tight fitting lids, or use good quality zip lock bags to put all my baking products in. It's a lot of work but that's the only way I have gotten rid of these nasty buggers without using chemicals, which I won't do. Good luck to you. (04/07/2009)
I had a mess with those nasty things. They came in stuff that was not even opened. I put LOTS of bay leaves all over and in everything after scrubbing the cupboards out with very hot water and bleach. I have opened factory sealed packages that had them in the food. Anyway, the bay leaves and bleach water did it for me. (04/08/2009)
We just purchased Hot Shot Fogger (it's new) and followed the directions, and it really worked! There were dead moths all over the two areas they had taken over (not our kitchen, they went for clothing). It works to keep on killing for weeks, and penetrates into cracks and crevices where the larva etc. are maturing. It suggested leaving the room closed up for at least 2 hours; we did the garage overnight, and one bedroom for 6 hours. Good luck. I found it in Wal-Mart (blue box, and has 3 containers inside). About $9.00. (06/26/2009)
Our pantry moths were getting pretty bad. So I cleaned out the cabinets where we store food. I went through all the open containers and found the telltale webbing and dead moths in some baking chocolate, tapioca flour, powdered sugar and mung beans. (Quite an adventurous palate those buggers have!) I threw all the infested stuff away, and cleaned the cabinets with hot water and dish soap. My husband brought home some pheromone-baited moth traps (pantry pests by Safer brand) which he found in the super market. Since those are non-toxic, I put the traps out - but so far so good: no moths. (06/29/2009)
I am having a problem with pantry moths. I looked for traps for them at the store, but couldn't find them. I have seen them online but would rather not buy that way. Is there anyone who has fought this battle and won? Do you have any home remedy that would get rid of these pantry moths? I am sick of throwing out all the baking goods and cereals they seem to enjoy. Thank you.
By AmberDawn from Toronto, Ontario
You'll have to throw out everything they love again, and start with new. Once they are inside whatever item, they can lay eggs. Then you need to go and purchase plastic containers with airtight lids. Look for containers made by OXO or have the Snap Tight feature. Clean the pantry with bleach water, put everything back making sure that all your baking goods are inside the containers. My mom did this for my grandmother's things and the moths were gone within a few days. (12/29/2009)
You need to get rid of anything they are in or could get in. Thoroughly wipe clean the pantry area, concentrate under shelving and in any crevices. Also check other sources that may be around the home; pet foods, snacks, potpourri, dried flora arrangements, and wild bird seed. Also watch where you shop, if you buy in bulk or at "organic" type stores you are probably bringing them in. (12/30/2009)
Use Ziploc bags, jars, and close the lids tightly, and Tupperware, which is airtight. Freeze everything for at least a week or two, then keep in the airtight containers. Life requires oxygen, no oxygen, no bugs. (12/31/2009)
Dried bay leaves will keep them out. You can drop them right into your storage containers on top of foods like pasta and rice. Also place them around the cabinets. (01/01/2010)
You can buy moth traps from the King Arthur flour website among others online, but I trust King Arthur flour website.
Try here: kingarthurflour.com (01/01/2010)
Pantry pests by Safer brand. I buy these at Lowe's. Once you get rid of the moths I suggest that you continue putting these Safer sticky pest traps out so you don't get them again. It seems they can live in almost any dry product you can buy at the grocery store.
I have had great success using a combination of baby oil and pure peppermint oil. I wipe down the shelves in the pantry first and then spray the shelves with the oil mixture, then wipe with a clean cloth. The peppermint oil repels the moths and also ants. There will be a little residue, but this doesn't bother me, and it fades in time. I'm fighting the moths now, after being given pantry items by a friend and forgetting to put them in the freezer first.
Good luck. (01/05/2010)
I've been getting moths in my pantry, best way to get rid of them is? I know I have to remove everything and wipe down cabinet and foodies, and store food back in plastic or glass.
But what I need to know is what bug killer type product do I get to be rid of them completely? I will be putting the food back in the cabinet. I'm just tired of catching and killing those little white caterpillars. Thanks for any help.
By Bridget from Orland, FL
You betcha there's a safe home remedy for pantry moths; and I'm about to share my secret. It will not kill the pests; but they'll sure disappear in a hurry, forever gone!
Another remedy to keep insects out of cabinets is to place whole bay leaves on the shelves and leave them there. Another scent that bugs don't like. I'm delighted to be of assistance to you. Good luck!
The lady is right about the peppermint oil. My sis in law puts peppermint sticks in all bulk stored goods and there are never any bugs. (03/08/2010)
I had weevils, too. I could not get rid of them in my small pantry. I got them from a bag of flour at the store that had a hole in it. I finally discovered they were living in the seams of the wood inside the pantry. I sprayed them with ant poison at the seams since I was so tired of throwing everything out, and it worked. I found them dead all over the pantry floor. Then I got the toxic spray off as best I could and I never had another problem.That was 20 years ago and I haven't been sick from the poison. (03/11/2010)
By Rae Ann
I also have had the problem and found that it had started in a bag of rice. I read somewhere that freezing kills any eggs that might be in dry goods. Now when I bring home a bag of rice, it goes into the freezer for a few days before I put it in the pantry. And I haven't had the problem since. Good luck. (03/12/2010)
I have been doing pest control for 22 years and I don't spray pantries for moths, no need to. Just a thorough cleaning and removal of all contaminated and possibly contaminated items. Open up even unopened boxes, not so much that the caterpillar is eating the food inside, but it will get under the flaps of the box and pupate to the moth, so if these are not removed your problem will continue. (03/22/2010)