Pantry moths are winged insects that cause problems for homeowners and food storage facilities. Indian meal moths are the most common type of pantry moth, but others include: Angoumois grain moths, Mediterranean flour moths, almond moths, tobacco moths, raisin moths, meal moths, rice moths, and miscellaneous house moths.
Pantry moths usually enter a home by hitchhiking in food or packaging that is already contaminated with moths or moth larva. Find out what types of food moths are attracted to, and how to prevent pantry moths in your home.
What do pantry moths like to eat?
First, it should be noted that the damage done by a pantry moth infestation comes from the larvae of a moth, not the adult moth. Seeing a mature moth flying around is a sign of an infestation, but swatting it with a fly swatter, or just getting rid of the moth will not solve the problem.
Indian meal moths will attack all cereal products, flour, whole grains, pet foods, bird seed, dried milk, dried fruits, spices, nuts and even chocolate. Larvae can chew through plastic bags and thin cardboard, making it possible for the infestation to spread from contaminated products to unopened packages.
Aside from seeing adult moths flying around, you may also notice clumps in any of the above-mentioned foods. When moth larvae are feeding, they spin silken threads that web food particles together, causing visible damage to food products.
How to get rid of pantry moths naturally
The best way to get rid of moths in the kitchen or pantry is to dispose of all infested items. Contaminated food should be completely discarded and removed from your home. Once you have removed all food and packaging containing obvious moth damage, you will need to thoroughly clean the area to make sure no moth larva remains.
Moth larva looks like very small caterpillars, and can survive on minuscule amounts of food, hiding in corners and crevices. When cleaning after a moth infestation, you’ll need to empty out the pantry, cabinet, or affected area to vacuum shelves and floors. Use a small attachment to really clean out corners, along trim and mopboards. Remember to change the vacuum bag or empty the canister promptly to prevent reinfestation. Then wash all surfaces with warm, soapy water.
Prevent pantry moths from coming back
After getting rid of a kitchen moth infestation, you’ll never want to deal with a mess like that again! Following these pantry moth prevention tips will make it easy to keep your home safe from moths:
- Moths cannot survive extreme cold, so you can place items in the freezer for one week to ensure no surviving larva remain.
- Inspect new food and items before bringing them into your home.
- Remove new food items from their original packaging and store in glass, metal, or plastic containers. Make sure they have an airtight seal!
- Use a natural scent to repel moths by placing bay leaves on pantry shelves, or setting out a pouch of Stay Away®.
Lastly, please remember to never use toxic mothballs, especially around food. Mothballs, which may look like candy or treats to small children and pets, contain harmful chemicals that can result in serious illness and even death. Always check the safety of the ingredients on labels and buy from an EPA licensed pesticide maker.