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Pantry Moths in Dog Food & Other Pet Food – What to Do


How do Moths get in Pet Food and Why are They There?

Cute puppy eating dog food - isolated over a white background.jpegThe moths that you find in pet food, as well as other dry goods and foods, are typically Indian meal moths. These moths and other pantry pests usually come into the home through food packages. The bag or box of food most likely became contaminated while it was at the factory or warehouse. Spoilage may also happen while sitting on a shelf in an infested environment such as a storage facility or during transportation.

Pantry moths are attracted to dog food and other dry pet food because their eggs can be hidden easily. As soon as the moth eggs hatch into larvae, their feeding stage, the scavengers are right where they need to be – close to a food source.

Moths in Dog Food and Pet Food

Noticing an infested bag of pet food may be difficult.  The moths are likely to still be in their early egg stage. During the egg stage, the moth only measures about 1-2 hundredths of an inch. After hatching from the eggs, the larvae will measure up to ½ an inch and have a worm-like appearance. If you are not inspecting the food, which most of us aren’t, you will not recognize a moth problem until you spot an adult moth flying around.

Once you see an adult moth, it has already gone from egg to larvae, and pupa to adult—with a female adult having the ability to lay up to 400 eggs within 2 weeks. Clearly, detecting or preventing a moth problem before this happens is important to get rid of moths that can reproduce so rapidly!

What to do if Your Pet’s Food is Infested with Moths?

If there are clear signs that moths have been inhabiting your dog’s or cat’s food, the food should be sealed up and thrown away. Sealing up the package before disposal will help ensure that other foods will not be contaminated as well. If there are other dry pet foods nearby, or foods that are in contact with the infested food, be sure to check them thoroughly. If they show no signs of moths, we recommend freezing the food for a week to kill any remaining eggs, just to be safe.

The good news is that the pantry moth does not carry any diseases that will harm you or your pet. There is no need to worry if your dog eats food containing moths at any stage of their development.

Although pantry moths are not a significant health risk, they are still unsightly. If the thought of serving your furry friend infested food sends shivers down your spine, take the time to check food for a moth presence. You can do this sifting through the first 4 inches of the food and carefully inspecting it. Moths rarely go any deeper than 4 inches from the surface. Look for tiny white eggs, worm-like insects, casings, and a white webbing–like that of a spider web. The webbing is formed when the cocoon is spun. Once hatched, you will notice the empty moth casings.

If you have noticed any signs of a moth infestation in your pets’ food, it is a good idea to check any other dry food source in the home or surrounding area of the pet food. This is because the adult female moths continually sniff out the perfect place to lay their 400+ eggs.

Get Rid of Moths in Dog Food and Pet Food with these Natural Solutions:

  • To prevent moths from inhabiting your dog’s or cat’s food, dump the entire bag into an air tight container after thoroughly inspecting it. Any nearby moths will not be able to sniff out or gain access to the food, and will move along.
  • Keep any other dry food that is in the area in air tight containers or a freezer, if the food is freezer friendly.
  • Promptly recycle or remove any boxes or packaging that the food came in because moth eggs may be hidden inside the corrugate of cardboard boxes.
  • Clean up any areas where traces of pet food may be present. Vacuum and wipe away any crumbs in the surrounding area of the stored food. Doing so will eliminate any attractants that may lure moths into the space.
  • In addition to cleaning, place a pouch or two of EarthKind®’s Stay Away® Moths wherever pet food is stored. Two pouches per room are recommended for the most effective moth prevention.

Stay Away Moths works by using a blend of essential oils that smell offensive to moths, but pleasant to humans. The scent obscures the food aromas and other odors that moths seek when looking for a safe place to lay their eggs. Avoiding chemicals is the key goal when dealing with your loved ones and fur babies. Chemicals are not necessary and should be kept far away from your four-legged family. For more information and control methods on Pantry Moths click here.

Shop Stay Away®

59 responses to “Pantry Moths in Dog Food & Other Pet Food – What to Do”

  1. I have kept my dog food in a covered containers. This morning I opened the container and 3 moths flew out. I think the food was contaminated when I purchased it about 2weeks ago. Does the shelf life get contaminated while sitting in the store ?
    The brand is Pro-Plan for small dogs. I have one unopened bag that I am thinking of returning. I do not trust this brand for quality.


    • It is certainly possible that the moth larvae were in the bag before you brought it home. Make sure to keep a pouch of Stay Away Moths where you store the dog food at your home so the infestation doesn’t spread.

  2. Again, I now have the same pantrymoth I encountered a few short years ago — and I quit —
    using PROPLAN — Purina product. And I saw moths flying round at
    our wonderful pet shop, only the Proplan area. Lo and behold, just recently forgot about Purina
    and bought 2 Purina ONE, bags were, and I shuddered, last of their stock —
    I am going back to the store w/an unopened bag. Who would believe that a huge
    nice Purina Company can’t fix a basic product care?

    • Pests like moths can be very persistent and difficult to manage, but your frustration is understandable. At least you know how to manage moths around your home with Stay Away Moths! Thanks for reading David!

      • I just opened a new bag this morning and first time ever saw the white worm and casings. It is Pro Plan for small breed. I had no clue what it was until getting on this site. That food is expensive. Can I not take it back to Petsmart for a refund? Now I am scared to buy more but cant just switch their food.

        • Hi Cyndy,

          That sounds very frustrating! I would suggest following up with the store where you purchased it from about a refund or replacement. You might also want to try contacting the manufacturer so they can try to address the cause of the problem. Please check with your vet for information about any risks to your pet’s health associated with moths in the food, and see if the vet has any recommendations for alternatives. As a precaution, you can put the food in the freezer for a few days to kill any larvae that may be hiding in the package. In the future, try transferring food from the original package to air tight containers after bringing it home to prevent further infestation. And of course, protect the other areas of your home with a pet-friendly moth repellent like Stay Away Moths!

          Thanks for reading!

          Thanks for reading!

  3. Pantry moths. There is at least, personal experience,oddly enough with the product you mention, recently when I forgot to skip the purchase, and a few years ago same brand brought
    home, and then seeing full grown moths skipping around that store’s single shelf stock.

  4. we have had issues with webs and now larvae also in purina – Beneful grain free . Such a shame as I did my research and the ingredients are USA and the facilities are USA, but our dog has thrown up 2x in 2 days and that’s what led me back to check the food. From what I’ve heard it’s a common problem.

    • Sadly, moths in dog food is a common problem. Storing food in an airtight container will help, and keeping Stay Away Moths in the room will keep moths out. Thanks for reading!

  5. I googled Purina Pro Plan dog food moth problem and it brought me to your website. I have 3 wonderful dogs. I saw the worm like larve and moths flying around in my airtight container. Inside the container I keep my dog food in a trash bag. The infestation is everywhere. I’m happy to read my dogs won’t be I’ll after the ate it. I feel so sad I fed it to them. Looks like I will research another better dog food for them. Scary and sad experience for me. Thank you for the blog.

  6. I routinely freeze the dry dog food after experiencing moths upon opening a new bag of Wellness Brand food. I wonder if moths are less likely in grain free type of dry dog food?

    • Freezing the dry food is a good way to prevent moth infestations. You’ve asked an interesting question about if grain free foods are less susceptible to moths, we’ll check with our experts and see if we can find an answer. Thanks for reading!

  7. Hello, I am concern about this. I bought lot of dried food for my dogs and street dogs, but I found a moth cocoon or something like that. I am in Venezuela. kibbles are very expensive and sometimes hard to find. I don’t wanna throw it away so I put all packages in the fridge to let it frozen and kill any larvae it might been. Am I doing it right? All packages (i put the kibbles inside Ziploc type bags) look fine and all smell fine too. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Anna,
      Freezing will kill moth larvae and shouldn’t affect the food. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things.
      Thanks for commenting!

  8. I experienced the larvae and moth infestation with Purina Pro Plan dog food on two separate occasions. At first, I thought it was the container; therefore, I purchased more Pro Plan dog food and a new sturdier airtight container, then stored it in a different location, but to no avail. I spoke to the manager at the pet store who stated she had no Pro Plan complaints but would look into it. I will take your advice and freeze the dry dog food until I discuss with the veterinarian an alternative dog food. Thanks for your help.

  9. Friskies dry cat food has given my home a huge problem. Threw it all away and after reading this article I dumped my open cat food into a plastic bag and saw a forming larvae so threw that bag out as well. What a nuisance

    • Hi Karen,
      That sounds very frustrating! Try storing pet food in an airtight container and only feeding pets at mealtimes if possible. You can also place items in the freezer for about a week to kill any moth larvae. Lastly, we recommend keeping a pouch of scent-based, pet friendly pest repellent like Stay Away nearby.
      Thanks for commenting!

  10. We just recently found the larvae in Purina Pro Plan chicken & rice shredded blend. We noticed white spots on the food and when you split it open, there were larvae. Our pet store manager said she has noticed Purina products have had increasing # of larvae/moth issues in the past two years. Her guess is that is happends at the distributor. She said most of their moth/larvae returns have been with brands that do not have an airtight seal on the package. She pointed out how Purina Pro Plan is taped and the moths can get in at the edges/corners. They try to inspect the bags when they come off the truck. She showed me how higher end brands anf even comparable brands like Hills Science have an air tight seal.

    • Hi Marcia,
      That sounds like a very frustrating issue! In addition to storing pet food in an airtight container, we recommend keeping a pouch of scent-based, pet friendly pest repellent like Stay Away nearby.
      Thanks for commenting!

  11. That’s interesting that besides Purina… the one other brand of dog food someone commented on above as seeing a moth problem is Wellness. I too have experienced a moth problem with the Wellness brand … 3 times in a row now…. and while I was trying not to change my dog’s diet… I think I’m finally going to try a different brand and see if I have any better luck.

    • Hi BW,
      That is very interesting. I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties finding a reliable brand of dog food. If you do find one that you are happy with, please share it in the comments, you’re certainly not the only one facing this challenge!
      Thanks for reading!

  12. Noticed flying moths after midway inta Purina Purina Beneful Healthy Weight . The bag’s top was rolled tight with a 5 pound weight on top in case mice tried getting in. Little did I know the infestation was already inside! Tossed out all of it & looking for another brand..

    • Hi Badger,
      How frustrating! It sounds like you had a good plan for preventing mice, but those sneaky moths still caused a problem! Disposing of the infested food was the right thing to do. In the future, you may want to try placing dry dog food in the freezer for a week before opening it inside your home — any moths or moth larva will die in the freezer before they can escape inside your home.
      Thanks for reading!

  13. I have 4 dogs and have bought so much pro plan and it’s all invested with small worm looking insects and dark green bugs. All my money wasted. I am so angry and can’t remember which store I bought each one from. I’m so upset

    • Hi Lisa,
      So sorry to hear about your situation, that would be very frustrating! You can freeze the dog food to kill any insects and larvae without using any harmful chemicals. Thanks for sharing your story!

  14. I also experienced a very heavy moth infestation in a bag of Purina Pro Plan. The entire bag was kept in a 50 lb airtight container that is cleaned between each new bag purchase. Unfortunate and I’ll be contacting Purina. This is the first time this happened after years of other bags, so hopefully it isn’t a new trend. My bag was of a grain free variety.

    • Hi JC,
      Sorry to hear about your situation, but thank you for sharing that information. Hopefully you can help others avoid the same fate. Storing the food in an airtight container and cleaning it between bags is an excellent habit. If you have the ability, you can try freezing the food for a week before using it since moths can’t survive extreme cold temperatures.
      Thanks for commenting!

  15. I bought a grain free dog food brought it home and opened it up and it was loaded I mean jam packed full of moths… so I’m surprised in reading it happens to a non grain dog food…so does this mean I’m not getting a grain free product that I pay a lot of money for to keep my dog healthy…thank you for your information…

    • Hi Pattie,
      So sorry to hear about your situation! I woudln’t jump to the conclusion that the dog food isn’t grain free just because moths are present. Moths can feed on a variety of foods, especially fats and oils that may be present in your dog food. I would suggest calling the company to see if they have any more information. To prevent the moths from infesting your home, you can place the dog food in the freezer for a week to kill any remaining pests. Also, keep a pouch of Stay Away Moths in the area where you keep the dog food to prevent them from sticking around.
      Thanks for reading!

  16. I bought a brand new air tight container for my dog’s dry food and ordered Authority (PetSmart) food. Once it arrived, I poured the whole thing in the container and through the bag away. Expiry date was not until next year! Two weeks later, I found dozens of moth flying out of the container! After close inspection, I found little worms glued to it! Such a disgusting and horrifying experience! Seriously considering cooking for my dog since now I know it is a common problem across the board. Thanks for the post

    • Hi Maha,
      So sorry to hear about your situation! Cooking for your dog would certainly help you avoid this issue, although it might make a little extra work for you. Let us know your favorite recipe if you decide to give it a try 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Diana,
      As far as we know, moths are relatively harmless to people and pets’ health. However, they can be a real nuisance, so we always recommend keeping a pouch of Stay Away Moths in moth-prone areas. Please consult with a veterinarian for more information or if you have noticed any changes in your cat’s behavior.
      Thanks for reading!

  17. Doesn’t seem to be only dog food suffering from these pests. I currently have dealt with an infestation, lots of the larvae wiggling around my walls and ceiling. I finally found the source, they seemed to originate from my Chinchillas food. Must have been there for awhile because I have seen the little worms for weeks and just killed them as I saw them. It wasn’t until I opened the lid to feed the chinchilla when a few moths flew out and there was a fair few worms in the food.

    Safe to say that food went, I just binned the tub entirely and hoovered my entire room. I picked up some air tight containers and new food today. Within hours I noticed a worm in the tub! No way a lone worm from my room had managed to get in so I have a feeling the second bag of food I got is also contaminated. Going to give it a couple of days, see if anymore show up! I really hope not, having all these Larvae wiggling around my bedroom makes me feel much less hygienic then I actually am.

    To make matters that bit worse Chinchillas have especially sensitive stomachs, he had obviously eaten contaminated food and now he has gone very timid, keeps making sneezing noises and other noises I have never heard from him. Trip to the vets is in order thanks to these horrible pests!

    • Hi Rob!
      I am so sorry to hear about your Chinchilla! It sounds like you’ve taken all the right steps in cleaning and storing the food moving forward. One thing that might help is if you freeze any new food you purchase for one week to kill any larvae before storing the food in an air tight container. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  18. Bought two 32 pound bags of Purina Dog Chow Healthy Weight. Pet supplies plus- Ashland, MA. A few hours after putting it in my container I notice the larvae crawling up my walls, in the dogs bowl, floor. Dog ate 3 cups of the stuff. Check the container and the food was covered in larvae. Sealed in garbage bag and will return to store tomorrow. Will update comment if the respone is less than perfect.

  19. I didn’t read whole thread but someone mentioned grain free. My dog eats grain free. I have her food stored in an airtight container…hundreds of moths just discovered. We kept seeing them and didnt know where they were coming from the container must be faulty. But I also saw some in my flour which is stored in an extra large glass Mason jar type container with a screw on lid No clue how they go in there. We thought they were all gone. Guess not.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Pantry moths are a very challenging pest to control! Based on the comments we’ve received, there doesn’t seem to be a particular brand or type of food that is more or less likely to contain moths. An integrated pest management plan that includes preventative measures and extreme vigilance are key to getting rid of moths.
      Thanks for reading!

  20. I had a bag of Purina Original Kit & Kaboodle in the freezer for over a month. I put it (in teh bag) in a new “Airtight Food Storage Container ” prob mid June, with no problems as late as a week ago Tonite went to refill my cat’s bowl and was surprised by the little moths inside the bag, on the floor of the container and on the underside of the lid I am mystified due to the length of time it had been in the container, with no prior inkling of tonite’s surprise

    • Hi Pati,
      That sounds very unusual – and frustrating! For added protection, try keeping a pouch of Stay Away Moths near where you store the pet food. Although it won’t kill the moths that have made it inside, it will prevent them from further infesting your home.
      Thanks for reading!

  21. Ughhhhh. I have been driving myself crazy with this obnoxious pantry moth problem all summer long. We love our dog…like everyone else out there that lives their dog. So we decided to buy a “higher end” dog food for our dog. We purchase Fromm family dog food for adult dogs. We read the label and were impressed with the “no grain fillers”. We have keep the dog food in a closet devoted to cat and dog food and treats. Approximately 6 to 8 weeks ago, I noticed an unusual amount of moths flying around the inside of the pantry. I looked inside the dog food bin and it was inundated with moths! I immediately threw out the food and cleaned and bleached every inch of the closet. Two days later…the moths were back.
    I have been a dog owner for over 16 years and this is the first time I have dealt with this disgusting disturbance. I will try the Stay Away…but I have to wonder what these dog and cat food companies are doing to have this onslaught of math infestations.
    I would love to see a court order suit against these companies for cleaning my home.

  22. Seems like purina needs to fix this problem… I just found the web with larva inside and 2 adult moths. I will be throwing out this food and looking for another brand…

    • Hello Stephanie,

      We are glad we are able to provide insightful information that can help you care for your pet. Some stores may replace the bag; bring your receipt and bag of food.

      Thanks for reading! and remember keep it kind, keep it safe!

  23. I have a cat and he always has food in his dish as he grazes through the day. It’s usually gone within a day. My question is, Am I opening myself up to further issues by allowing standing food even if it’s being consumed? We use Acana which is grain free and it comes vacuumed sealed and placed directly to air tight container. I’m not suspecting the cat food is the start of our issue. We are at the beginning satages of having weevils and I want to try and safe guard every area.

    • Hi Sherry!

      Thank you for reading our article and reaching out to us!

      We always recommend to remove the food right away after it has been consumed. Typically pets will eat whatever their tummy needs. Anything that is left after that and/or if they did not eat when they were supposed too, it is best to remove the food. You may bring it back later when needed. Consult your vet for specifications. You are doing the right thing by saving the food in a plastic air tight container, even if it is vacuumed sealed. Usually bugs like spaces with no light. It is their safe environment. Keeping the food in a place that is not to dark can help. Look for dark places in your home where the bugs and insects can begin to call home. Getting rid of clutter and debris can help to keep them away. Take a look at this article Signs of mice infestations in a new home that has some great information about how to get rid of bugs. Also if you type the word bug in our webpage you will other great ways to get rid of them.

      Thank you for reading! 

  24. Purchased a bag go blue buffalo puppy food and 3 days later found pantry moth larvae in the food. Was very upset since I had been feeding my 7 week old puppy this food for the past three days. He had been having diarrhea and now has a fever that led to a $300 vet bill. The diarrhea could have been caused by something else, regardless I was upset. Petsmart told us to put the food in a garbage bag and they will refund us.

    • Hi Lauren!

      We are sorry to hear about your puppy. Poor baby! We hope he is doing much better now.

      Moths do the most damage during the larva stage when they are eating and growing. To prevent further damage, we recommend removing everything from the pantry where the dog food was stored, inspect and disinfect the area. Throw away anything that was contaminated by moth larva. In the future, try storing dog food in a container with a tight fitting lid, and keep a pouch of Stay Away Moth® . nearby. Stay Away Moths repels moths by slowly releasing a proven blend of essential oils that interferes with moths ability to navigate, find a mate, and detect danger. The scent will last for up to 3 months and can be used around people, pets and food since it is free from harmful chemicals.
      Thanks for reading!

  25. Do you have any advice or a similar article on Copra Beetles/Red-legged Ham Beetles in dog food? I’m wondering if there’s any way to salvage it…

    • Hello Clement,

      Beetles commonly infest dog food facilities, which means you could buy a fresh bag of food that is already contaminated. Although they only live for about 43 days, beetles can hibernate for up to 24 months in dry dog food. The beetles also shed setae in the infested dog food, which can irritate your dog’s mouth, throat and digestive tract if consumed. So if there are clear signs that beetles have been inhabiting your dog’s food, the food should be sealed up and thrown away to protect your pet and help ensure that other foods will not be contaminated as well. If you don’t want to dispose of the dog food, you can always try taking the food back to the original retailer for a refund.

      If there are other dry pet foods nearby, or foods that are in contact with the infested food, be sure to check them thoroughly. To prevent beetles from inhabiting your dog’s or cat’s food in the future, dump the entire bag into an air tight container after thoroughly inspecting it and keep a pouch of Stay Away Beetles wherever the pet food is stored.

      Good luck and thanks for reading!

  26. I too have been fighting the good fight with the moths. For months I have noticed the moths and worms and I have thrown out everything in the pantry, spent a fortune restocking and cleaning not to mention the frustration of it all. Finally, I noticed the webbing in my dogs airtight case and found the Purina Pro Plan to be infested with worms! Threw it all out and went back to the pet store to restock for dinner. I found moths in the aisle, dead ones on the shelving and webbing in the crevices of the bags as well at two different stores! I finally spoke with an employee who was not at all surprised to hear of this issue. She suggested other brands as this was a common issue with all Purina products. How can they be allowed to do this?
    I’m in on the class action if it were possible… this is ridiculous and I wanted to put it out there that this is an issue with Purina. I’m no longer a fan.
    Thanks so much for your help and for giving me a space to get the word out to others wondering what is going on with the moths. 🙂

  27. We have been having this issue for 2 years . Before that we never saw these moths, worms. We have been using Purina Beneful healthy weight and the last 2 bags have had the issue. It seems that Purina would be aware of this issue and either freeze their bags before distribution or make a sealable bag. Higher end pet foods do not seem to have these issues and I believe it is because their bags are much better quality and of material that is inpenatratable to insects. Purina and others that have this moth issue need to fix this possibly with better quality bags for their food or a freezing before distribution method to kill any possible moth stages. Just a thought. We are all very frustrated on this problem!!

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