Getting Rid of Pantry Moths

Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 148 Posts
June 14, 2012

Indianmeal mothI 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:


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


13 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

April 5, 2006

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


By Pepsi (Guest Post)
April 5, 20060 found this helpful

Try putting bay leaves in your containers with meal, flour, etc. I have been doing this for years and I have no moths.

By Amy. (Guest Post)
April 5, 20060 found this helpful

I have had that problem in the past, and they are hard to get rid of. I finally had to throw pretty much everything in my pantry out and start over. When I started over I put all grains, and anything else the moths or larvae could be in, in the freezer for 24 hours or so. When the food comes out, I transfer it to a clear plastic, airtight container.


This way, you can see if anything should appear. We have never again had a problem. The large Gatorade bottles are what we primarily use. I also put a coffee filter over the top before screwing the top on. This helps to keep any bugs out or, if they do survive, in.
Good luck!

By Louise (Guest Post)
April 5, 20060 found this helpful

Here in the desert we have a lot of problems out of bugs and weavils in the summertime because it's so hot.I keep everything,Rice,Macaroni,Flour,Meal,cake mixes etc in my freezer.I take everything out of my cabinets and spray with Raid.I let it air out for a day,then place contac paper on more bugs for a long long have to check the packages when you get them home from the store because we've bought toilet paper and paper towels and paper plates that were LOADED with those little black


bugs.I took them back to the store.and wouldn't buy from that store anymore.

By droozma (Guest Post)
April 6, 20060 found this helpful

We got Indian meal moths from a bag of dog treats that apparently had them when we bought it. I threw out everything grain based and had Wal Mart (where we got the treats) pay for an exterminator. Took a while, def. a pain in the neck. The FDA says it's okay for a certain percentage of our food to have insects/ insect parts in it. Disturbing, but it makes sense.

By Cate (Guest Post)
April 6, 20060 found this helpful

There is a product called the Pantry Pest Trap made by Gardens Alive that is pesticide free and non-toxic, to trap grain moths, flour moths, meal moths, and seed moths. It comes in packages of two and works well. I purchase it over the internet once yearly.


April 7, 20060 found this helpful

Just put some bay leaves loose on the shelves.....


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 472 Feedbacks
August 4, 20060 found this helpful

I live in the South, and trust me, bay leaves--which I have tried--do not work in the area that I live in. I've found bugs in sealed jars that held bay leaves. I've found that checking everything you bring in is a priority. All you have to do is let one thing get by, and you are infested.


I recently had an infestation when I failed to check an all-natural cat litter that was made from corn. I'd used it for years with no problems, felt safe buying it, then this. From now on, I'll check everything.

August 4, 20060 found this helpful

No one has mentioned pepermint or spearmint gum. We moved to Al. 11 years ago. I soon got indoctrinated!!! Friends told me about bay leaves. Didn't work. Others told me about the gum. Of cource, you need to get rid of everything containing the bugs and clean your cupboards good. Next buy the gum. Leave each stick in it's wrapper and tear it in half. Spread these throughout the cupboards, especially the ones with cereals and grains etc. I change mine out about every 6 months. You only need 3 or 4 pr cupboard. Good luck Judy

By Jane (Guest Post)
September 6, 20060 found this helpful

Does anyone know if these methods (gum/sealed containers/freezer) will get rid of a severe infestation, or should I just throw everything away? These guys are EVERYHWERE!!! And I have already had to throw out my blender and hand mixer because the made cocoons way up in them.

By lydia (Guest Post)
June 19, 20070 found this helpful

i have a guinea pig and the moths started showing up in the food i put it in a container and the moths don't get in there but they still get in the food the guinea pig eats!

By Warehouse worker (Guest Post)
August 2, 20070 found this helpful

I work in a warehouse that stores beans and freeze dried items. We use to have a problem with moths in things but we put bay leaves up and it did miracles.


We also put our beans in the freezer for 72 hrs. when they first come in, simply because who knows where the bags were stored before they came to us.

By Kim KLoke (Guest Post)
May 20, 20080 found this helpful

What advice do you have for finally getting rid of these meal moths. They are everywhere. Just when I think I have conquered them, I find more. I had taken everything out of the cupboard and thrown away anything they might infect. I've washed down the cupboards with vinegar, bleach & hot soapy water and nothing keeps them from coming back. I've even tried the gum and bay leaves. I am almost ready to move and leave them behind. Any help?

By Virginia (Guest Post)
July 1, 20080 found this helpful

I have had this problem for 5 years! Finally someone told me they might be in heating pads (those made with beans, corn, rice) and they are almost gone!

By Bonnie (Guest Post)
February 3, 20090 found this helpful

Like most of you I have tried all of the suggestions you all have to offer. Believe me nothing has worked, Just when you think you have gotten it under control, along comes a moths flying by the TV set. I did purchase the meal traps.I have even seen them fly right by them as if laughing hahaha do you think this fools me.

Like most of you I have thrown away every piece of food and I mean everything. I placed all new food in seal tight containers with a rubber seal, bleached the cabinets floors, and scrubbed the walls. Still I see these creature flying by at night..I have decided to name them, Henry came by last night looking for Ann, but Like Henry I had him beheaded, and so it goes on the battle. I will continue to read these blogs in hope one may find the answer. Until then I need to go catch. Jack who is now looking for Jill Good luck to you all.

By Moth Hater (Guest Post)
February 9, 20090 found this helpful

I have thrown out EVERYTHING in my kitchen cabinet. It all started when my husband & I were killing moths flying around every day! We cleaned out the kitchen cabinet and threw out all the open stuff. Still no luck. Then I decided to go in heavy duty style and opened jars of my dry fruit.

My cashews had moths flying in it and there was larva in my rice - absolutely disgusting! I was shocked especially since I am such a clean freak. I threw out everything in my cabinet and lysol'ed it down. Bought new shelf liner and placed it in with some bay leaves. No luck again. We found 2 moths flying about and 2 moths in the empty cabinet. Very upset and angry, my husband & I checked the cabinet once more and found a "baby" moth which looked like it had just matured flying and we also found a bigger one right by the ceiling. We figured there are some remaining eggs and cocoons somewhere in the cabinet - a spot we have missed.

It was the upper corner of my cabinet where we found a cocoon and eggs. We took lysol with bleach and cleaned every corner and crevice. We also noticed that our cabinet had some crevices. Without taking any chances, I am going to caulk it down today! I am so sick of moths. I was considering pesticides but not sure if they are safe for places where ill be storing food. So I believe cleaning is the key! I read a lot of articles that say that these traps do not work and pesticides are not recommended.

Best thing is to CLEAN THOROUGHLY and store everything in New Air Tight Containers, do not buy in bulk, and caulk up all the crevices. Hope this helps and please let me know if there is something else i should be doing. Good luck

August 5, 20101 found this helpful

Our moth journey is similar to other posters. Began to see them flying around 4 years (!) ago. Repeated cleanings - turfing out all pantry food, scrubbing down cabinets and drawers - unfortunately didn't solve our problem. We'd appear to be moth free for a time, and then gradually, we'd start to see them again. Is there anything more disheartening? It's an enormous undertaking to get rid of these things. Well, long story short, and realizing that we'd clearly never found the source, I went crazy in the kitchen, using bright lights and probing every crevice and hole - and that's the answer! In every food cabinet, the pre-drilled holes that allow you to adjust the shelves was full of webbed material - the tell tale sign of moth life - and the larvae themselves. Ugh. We've plastered over them all, and then went further to pitch most of my baking pans (spring form pans, loaf pans, etc.) that had rolled edges and the potential for harbouring larvae in hard to reach spots. By golly, I think we may be on top of it this time. Good luck to everyone else in this predicament. Be ruthless!

November 14, 20100 found this helpful

No joke. Check your furniture.


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 111 Feedbacks
May 11, 20110 found this helpful

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!

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
July 30, 2017

I can't get rid of pantry moths that came home from the grocery store in some flour. I have chemically sprayed, bombed, cleaned, re-cleaned, and peppermint oiled everything. They have no food source (I keep everything in glass) and no trash to munch on.

Yet I keep finding them. I have had them a time or two before throughout the years, but I easily got rid of them. This gang, refuses to die or leave. Any suggestions?

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March 5, 2006

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 Amy. (Guest Post)
March 6, 20060 found this helpful

I don't know if they are the same, but we had a moth infestation in our kitchen awhile back. I had to get rid of all grain foods. What an expense! Anyhow, after that, I now freeze all flours, rice, pasta, grain stuffs, etc.. before opening. I also store most of these foods in heavy duty plastic containers with screw on lids. You have to make sure there is a true seal, so what I do is put a coffee filter on before the lid. If it appears to have any holes, I throw the contents away, wash in hot water, and restock, although it has only happened once.
I think these are India Moth's,but whatever they are, the only way I got rid of them was to smash them and watch food storage. Poison and foggers did not work.

I wish you well,


March 6, 20060 found this helpful

The moth parts are edible and won't hurt you. Remember that for hundreds of years, generations merely sifted out or picked out the insect parts. The food is edible and is still eaten this way, world-wide. Keeping the dry food stuffs in the referator, or first freeze 24-48 hours, kills most (dormant) eggs.

One way to deter insects from your food stuffs is to place bay leaves inside each container of rice, flour, sugar, etc. This has worked here over 30 yrs.

March 6, 20060 found this helpful

Back in the 1960s moths got into my sweater drawer and ruined some of my favorites; i learned this while at a party at college; had to duck into the House Mother's apt to sew up all the holes. Since then, i've made doubly sure clothes are always completely clean b4 storing them in the closet or chest of drawers. They are drawn by the teeniest speck of food.

Moths are repelled by cedar. Get some blocks of cedar to hang up in your closet and place inside your drawers. You can get cedar chips, sold for gerbil bedding, to use inside sachet bags; if you don't sew, use glue. Be creative. My grandmother kept clothing that attracted moths in her cedar chest. Nowadays you can line your entire closet in cedar if you choose.

Make sure you never put your clothes away dirty.

By Anna (Guest Post)
January 31, 20080 found this helpful

Lavander also help to keep them away both before or after.

By Red Neck (Guest Post)
October 22, 20080 found this helpful

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.

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May 29, 2010

Can pantry moths get into the cupboard shelving material itself?

By jeff from Sacramento, CA


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 147 Feedbacks
May 30, 20100 found this helpful

Use moth balls, good luck.

May 31, 20100 found this helpful

I just bought the safer sticky traps at Home Depot, and I swear the minute I opened the packet, I had 12 moths swarming me. I really think this is going to work!

I also bought cedar "shims", used to install a door. They are really cheap and even though I don't see the moths in my closet, I want to make sure they stay out.


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 270 Feedbacks
June 2, 20100 found this helpful

You can't use Moth Balls or bug sprays in the house, esp around food. You cannot get that chemical smell out again. You have pests laying eggs. Scrub your shelves, if you use contact paper, replace. Scrubbing with a Mr Clean, etc, get a brush into the corners.Then, go to a food coop and get fresh bay leaves. Leave a couple on each shelf. The pesties do not like them. I have used this for years, once ridding our house of the bugs.

Do not put food items in the cupboard without being in a container. Anything grain can have them in. The boxes the food comes in can carry the eggs. Switching out to tupperware, etc is what all my food, cereal, pasta, etc go in. Anything made with grain will be suspect to harboring the pests. Also. don't forget to re-contain your pets food. They also are a source for these bugs.

September 13, 20100 found this helpful

We have what look like pantry moths (according to all of the images I have looked at online they look like pantry moths to me). However these moths are not interested in our food, nor do they seem to be interested in our linens! I saw one solitary moth in the dog food and there are none in the linen closet. However, they are all over the upper cupboard (right above the linen cupboard) where we store holiday decorations, tents and sleeping bags, even some of my husband's tools! I cannot for the life of me figure why they seem to love this one spot so much and I am having an extremely hard time getting rid of them. I took everything out of the cupboard and sprayed the whole thing with a bleach/water mixture, which seemed to kill the adult moths flying around in there for the time being. However, it took only hours before I saw a few hanging out in there again!

I smash every single moth I see and the worms as well. Today I bought moth balls and dumped the entire box in there along the three shelves, taped the whole thing up around the edges of the cupboard doors with duct tape to make a semi-air tight seal and we will see if this works. I must say though I checked the ceiling of the area right outside of the cabinet a mere 5 hours later and had to smash about 8 of them hanging out up there so my hopes are not very high. I will be trying essence of peppermint next if the moth balls do not work. If anyone knows what type of moths look like pantry moths yet do not eat food or linens and how to get rid of them please please please let me know as these things are driving me insane!

October 16, 20100 found this helpful

I tried washing everything, bay leaves, threw away everything but canned food, and even used the traps. I can hear them laughing at me. Today, I took almost everything out of my kitchen and and am using a bug bomb. They are in places I can't even get to, between the wall and cupboards, between the back splash and the wall, didn't want it to come to this but, bug bomb it is!

February 28, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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January 14, 2016

There are little moth looking flies in my pantry. How can I get rid of them without using toxic poison?

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June 29, 2014

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?

By Dotty


September 1, 20140 found this helpful

Pantry moths and the moths that come in from the outside are two different things. Pantry moths usually come from food that was stored in a warehouse--pet food, cereal, flour, etc. First I sprayed bug killer into all the cracks and crevices of the cabinets then I used traps with sticky surfaces inside them to get rid of mine. It has been a few years, but I still remember that they came in a bag of cat food. I suppose it would be a good idea to put all of these dry items into plastic containers rather than leaving them in the boxes. (As you probably found out, plastic bags won't keep them away) The moths you see flying outside your door can be kept away with a yellow light bulb.

December 27, 20140 found this helpful

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.

Anti-bug Cleaner
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.

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March 29, 2014

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


March 31, 20140 found this helpful

Perhaps if you put those items in a ziploc bag and keep them closed as much as possible, that wouldn't happen. I had a similar experience with a large bag of cedar bedding I use for our hamster cages. I had brought it inside, and within a day or two our house was teeming with horseflies! Now whenever I buy a package, I cut a small opening on the top and leave the bag outside on the porch for 3-4 days before I bring it in (haven't had any problems since). Good luck to you!

April 1, 20140 found this helpful

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!

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June 10, 2012

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?

By F.E.


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 226 Feedbacks
June 12, 20120 found this helpful

They find places to hide we would never think of. But with the food gone you won't see them for too much longer.


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 472 Feedbacks
June 13, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 7, 2010

I am having a problem with pantry moths. I looked for traps for them at the store, but couldn't find them. Is there anyone who has fought this battle and won?


April 5, 2009

How on earth do I rid my cupboards of Kitchen moth, I live in a rather humid climate and in summer we have NO AC and so flies, moths and critters find their way in my house as well as others. I do not like using harsh chemicals like Raid and those aresol things as they are highly toxic, are there home tips for this?


May 29, 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.


December 29, 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)?

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