How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths – Homeowner’s Guide

Pastry moths, well known by the name Indian meal moths, are cumbersome insects that feed on dry food stored in shelves/pantries. They reproduce in a couple of weeks creating disastrous colonies.

So, on how to get rid of pantry moths; remove/clear everything from your pantry, wipe the shelves with a mixture of warm water, vinegar & peppermint oil, or dispose of non-airtight storage cans.

  • Remove and clean shelf liners, scrub pantry with soap and hot water, dry pantry & washed storage containers thoroughly, and vacuum your pantry sufficiently before disinfecting the surface with vinegar.
  • Storage jars or containers should be washed with plenty of soap & hot water (this helps kill moth’s eggs), while infested or contaminated food substances should be disposed of whatsoever.

Consider changing the current storage method as well and avoid re-stocking your pantry immediately upon cleaning as this may lead to the moth’s re-occurrence. Importantly, take thorough measures in your house to prevent future re-infestation. To gain in-depth insight, let us get into the discussion.

How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths

1. Remove/Clear everything from Pantry

Remove and clear all dry food on the shelves or pantry. Whether contaminated or not, you need to clear your pantry sufficiently and inspect the presence of pantry moths.

  • Be careful to check the larvae too – this can be done using a hand lens or convex lens.
  • Consider removing crockeries, open cans, and closed items as well before actual cleaning is undertaken. The idea of items removal encompasses opening up space for direct observation of moths and their life cycle.

Further, this approach scares moths from their hideouts, thus making it easier to capture and fumigate them to death.

2. Wipe pantry with a Mixture of Warm water, Vinegar, and Peppermint oil

The mixture of vinegar, water, and peppermint oil repels moths away and prevents future infestation.

Further vinegar inhibits moths eggs hatching into larvae, while the solvent disinfects the surface.

  • Soak a piece of cloth into a mixture of vinegar, warm water, and peppermint oil. Wipe your pantry gently. Wash your shelves using the solution and clean storage containers in this solvent as well before rinsing them in hot water.

Leave the cleaned surface to dry to touch before restocking your pantry.

3. Remove and Clean all Shelf liners

Carefully, remove all shelf liners. Clean the liners with soap and hot water – to remove and kill moths’ eggs.

  • You can opt to vacuum underneath liners or dust appropriately.

For old shelf liners, it’s advisable to remove and replace them with new ones. In case you aren’t willing to remove your shelf liners, you can opt to wipe the surface with moist clothe soaked in a disinfectant.

4. Dispose of non-airtight Storage Cans

Loose or non-tight storage containers should be disposed of accordingly – the gap left offers a pathway for pantry moth to access stored dry food.

  • More so, internal threading and folds that come with loose storage cans provide a breeding ground for pantry moths – their eggs hatch and mature without disturbance in such areas.

Those storage containers that have pronounced gaps and holes should be disposed of first as you fix containers with tiny gaps (use seal) instead of disposing of them.

5. Thoroughly Dry Pantry plus Washed Storage Containers

Upon cleaning, your pantry should be dried perfectly – this act reduces the chances of re-infestation or further contamination.

  • Pantry Moth’s eggs may cling on the surface upon cleaning thus hatching later and resulting in a new colony in the process.
  • Moreover, washed storage containers/plastic bags should be dried in sun or wiped sufficiently with a dry piece of cloth.

Moisture traces will not only attract pantry moths back but also initiate mold formation, which leads to food contamination.

6. Vacuum Pantry Area Thoroughly – wipe with vinegar and water

By vacuuming your pantry, you will not only eliminate adult moths, but you’ll also get rid of their eggs and larvae. Further, the vacuum cleaner also clears cocoons effectively.

  • Connect the vacuum cleaner to a power source and turn it on. Gently, vacuum pantry surface, cupboard, shelves, pinholes, cracks, joints, corners, and storage container.
  • Empty the waste and inspect the presence of pantry moths – this enables you to make the decision whether to discard stored dry food.

Avoid using the very powerful vacuum cleaner as it may destroy the storage containers or your pantry. Upon vacuuming, wipe the shelves and pantry using a piece of cloth soaked in a mixture of water and vinegar.

7. Change the Current Storage Method

Perhaps your current storage method isn’t secure enough and thus ends up allowing pantry moths infestation – alternative methods such as the use of new plastic bags and tightly sealed tins would shield dry food sufficiently.

  • Moreover, you can opt to store nuts and dried grains in a refrigerator/freezer entirely rather than in a cupboard or pantry.
  • Food items such as groceries should be kept far away from the pantry – they are a key attractant to fruit flies and other insects as well.

Adversely, food bought from the market should be stored separately and monitored for a week to ensure that no traces of moths are present.

Storing dry food together with a tray of eggs is an amazing preventive method since eggs smell repel Pantry moths from the vicinity.

8. Scrub Pantry Thoroughly with Soap and Hot water

Dip a sponge or a piece of cloth in hot water and apply soap. Scrub doors, floor, wall, and liners of your pantry gentry.

  • Ensure that door hinges are thoroughly cleaned – try to clean every possible area where moths, larvae, and eggs may be found.
  • Hot water kills moth’s eggs plus its larvae instantly upon contact. Adult moths are scared away from their hideouts by hot water.

NB: Be careful when handling hot water lest you burn yourself.

9. Wash Storage Jars or Containers in the Pantry with soapy and Hot water

If your store dries food in plastic containers or jars; then, you need to clean them thoroughly in soapy warm water.

  • Often, these storage containers may have come into contact with pantry moths. Chances of pantry moths laying eggs in storage containers are high – therefore, you need to presoak all storage items before actual cleaning is undertaken.

Then, scrub the jars/containers with soap and hot water and rinse with clean water before leaving them to dry to touch.

10. Avoid Re-stocking your Pantry Immediately – wait

By not restocking your pantry immediately after cleaning, you will prevent cases of pantry moths re-infestation. Often, pantry moth’s eggs may remain in the storage containers, especially if thorough cleaning was not undertaken.

  • If keen measures are not put into place, these eggs hatch and infest the entire storage containers.
  • By delaying restocking, you will be taking cautious attention towards diagnosing possible occurrences of pantry moths into your storage containers/jars.

Also, larvae may be left in the containers upon which they mature and become adults if not removed before restocking.

11. Get Rid of Infested or Contaminated food Substances

Any contaminated or moth-infested food should be discarded or thrown away. The food may include either recently opened dry food or moth-infested dry food. It’s difficult to observe moths’ eggs with naked eyes.

  • Therefore, you need to get rid of the entire container as soon as you notice a single moth.
  • Alternatively, you can opt to store the infested food in a freezer for 7 days.

Then, sieve the dry food before cooking – low temperature inactivates the live moths and kills their egg/larvae. For easier identification, you will notice tiny holes on the packaging container/sack that you never saw previously.

What are Signs of Pantry Moths Infestation in Your Place?

Pantry moths may not be identified easily, especially if the infestation is big enough to form a swam. Therefore, it’s always advisable to be keen in looking for other possible signs that are highlighted below:

1. Presence of adult moths or larvae

Search for larvae or adult pantry moths in your cupboard or pantry. To do this, you will need to look for gray-colored insects with either white or red strips/patches.

  • Roughly, adult pantry moth measures approximately 1/2 an inch long. Pantry moth larvae (which is about 1.25cm long) appear like a worm with 5 pairs of legs.
  • You will easily spot adult pantry month flying in your pantry at night often than in day time.

During the inspection, check dry food such as rice, grains, cereals, and even flour – turn the grains thoroughly since some of these pantry moths hide deep inside.

2. Presence of Holes in Dry food packaging

While undertaking your routine inspection in your pantry, the presence of small holes on packaging bags/containers for dry food is a clear indicator of pantry moths infestation.

  • Though other insects such as termites may pierce and make holes on packaging containers, chances are low that they reached your pantry.
  • Observing two or three holes is too much to let go of before opening the entire containers to inspect if there is any sign of pantry moth contamination. Also, inspect plastic wrapping and boxes as well.

When purchasing sealed dry food, check if there are tiny holes on the surface – such food may be contaminated with pantry moths right from the source.

3. Visible Cocoon webbing

By observation, check the presence of cocoon webbing in your pantry or storage containers. For boxes and cupboards, take a keen look at corners and edges.

  • The stringy and clumpy network is left by pantry moths as they crawl along. These insects also build cocoons in which they lay hundreds of eggs.

If you are keen, you will observe webbed cocoons beneath shelves, or at the folds.

What Brings Pantry Moths In Your House?

Often, pantry moths come to your home through food substances bought from outside. This may be cereals, grains, or any other type of dry food, which these insects feed on.

  • Usually, infestation or pantry moths contamination occurs during the processing or packaging of dry food.
  • Eggs, larvae, or adult pantry moths could be packed together with dry food and ends up in your house once you purchase such food items.

Once these contaminated food are stored in your pantry, the adult pantry moths or larvae spreads and multiplies numerously causing serious food poisoning.

  • Normally, pantry moths exclusively feed/depend on dry food substances.

The presence of high temperatures favors their breeding. Therefore, it’s advisable to store your dry food in a freezer or low-temperature zones in order to keep off pantry moths infestation or further breeding.

How to prevent Pantry Moths from Infestation

Due to the adverse effects of pantry moths towards stored dried food, it’s advisable to consider the following preventive measures:

  • The store recently purchased dry foods in airtight containers
  • Place bunches bay leaves in your pantry or shelves – they repel pantry moths
  • Freezing new dry goods or food for 7 days – prevents pantry moths re-infestation
  • Store dry goods in glass or plastic cans that are tightly sealed – air-free.
  • Inspecting your cabinets, shelves, and pantry often
  • Fumigating your House with pantry moth repellants
  • Using peppermint leaves, cider, or mint chips in your pantry – sachet
  • Switching off lights at night – light attracts pantry moths

Conclusion

In summary, on how to get rid of pantry moths, you can start by removing/clearing everything from your pantry, then wipe the shelves with a mixture of warm water, vinegar & peppermint oil, or opt to dispose of non-airtight storage cans appropriately.

  • Moreover, you need to remove and clean shelf liners, thoroughly scrub the pantry with soap and hot water, precisely dry the pantry & washed storage containers as well as vacuum your pantry sufficiently before disinfecting the surfaces with vinegar.
  • For the case of storage jars or containers, they should be washed with plenty of soap & hot water (kills moth’s eggs), while contaminated/infested food substances should be disposed of accordingly.

Alternatively, change the current storage method and avoid re-stocking your pantry immediately upon cleaning (this may lead to moth re-occurrence). Notably, take preventive measures highlighted in this article to eliminate cases of future re-infestation in your house.

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