How to Solve a Pantry Moth Problem

Even the most meticulous housekeeper can unknowingly bring a pantry moth home from the grocery store. Once it’s in your kitchen it can easily find it's way into your dry goods. A female pantry moth can lay several hundred eggs in no time, creating an infestation.

Types of pantry moth

There are three common types of pantry moth:

  •     Angoumois Grain Moth
  •     Mediterranean Flour Moth
  •     Indian Meal Moth

The Angoumois grain moth is a small buff, gray or yellow-brown color insect. Its hind wings have long hairs that narrow into a point. The Mediterranean flour moth is approximately .48 inches. This moth is pale gray with two black lines on its forewing. An Indian meal moth measures about .8 inches and is pale gray with a red-brown color on the forewing.

How does the pantry moth get into your home?

A pantry moth usually comes into your home with the groceries. Always check your grocery boxes, bags and containers for small holes or tight webbing on your food packaging.

Products most likely to attract the pantry moth

  •     Flour
  •     Whole grains
  •     Cereal
  •     Peas
  •     Spices
  •     Pet food
  •     Bird seed

The life cycle of a pantry moth

The female pantry moth lays her eggs in your dry food supply. The eggs hatch and the larva emerges to feed. Then the larva forms a cocoon for its metamorphosis into a moth. New moths break out of the cocoon and spread to other food in your pantry, creating an infestation.

What to do when you discover a pantry moth infestation

You must remove the contaminated food from the pantry. Place the infested food into a plastic bag, seal it and throw it in the trash. If you don't want to lose the food, place it in a sealed plastic bag and store it in the freezer for four days. Heat can also kill pantry moths. Heat the food at 130 degrees F for two hours. While both methods will eliminate the moths you are left with the chore of sifting the bodies out of the food.

Preventing a pantry moth infestation

Check grocery packaging at the store before bringing it home. Check your shelves at home  for signs of the pantry moth. Do not keep any infested food. Discard it immediately. Be especially cautious of the pantry moth when buying bulk grains and bird seed. Store your flour, grains and cereals in tightly sealed containers. By sealing the food products you prohibit the pantry moth from getting into other items. Most importantly, keep your pantry shelves clean and free of crumbs.

Getting rid of the pantry moth

Clean all pantry shelves including corners, spaces and cervices with soap and hot water. Wash all cans to remove any microscopic larvae. Vacuum your pantry and any other infested areas in your kitchen. After thoroughly cleaning the pantry, use pheromone traps to stop any lingering moth problems. The traps use the female pheromone to lure the male moth to the trap where it becomes stuck. Other moth traps are the glass trap and the suppressing trap. The glass trap uses pheromones and water in the container to drown the pantry moth. Suppressing traps use both male and female pheromones and a glue strip.