Pantry Moths in Dog Food or Pet Food Bag? What To Do
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Pantry Moths in Dog Food & Other Pet Food – What to Do

By: Lisa Dingeman

How They Get There

The moths that you find in pet food, as well as other dry goods and foods, are typically Indian meal moths. These moths and other bugs found in dog food usually make their way into the home through the food packages themselves. The bag or box of food most likely became contaminated while it was at the factory or warehouse. Spoilage can also happen while food packages sit on a shelf in an infested environment such as a storage facility or during transportation.

Why They Are Attracted 

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.

Noticing an infested bag of pet food may be difficult. The moths are likely to still be in their early egg stage which means they will be harder to spot. During the egg stage, they will only measure 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 flying around.

Once you see an adult moth, it has already gone through a large portion of its life cycle. It’s 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 problem is important because these pantry pests can reproduce so rapidly!

What to Do About Moths in Dog Food

If there are clear signs that moths have been inhabiting your dog or cat food (or any other family pet), the food should be sealed up, thrown away, and a new bag should be purchased. Sealing up the package before disposal will help ensure that other food items will not be contaminated as well. 

If there are other dry pet foods nearby the moth infestation, or food items that are in contact with the infested food, be sure to check them thoroughly. This is because the adult female moths continually sniff out the perfect place to lay their 400+ eggs. If you see similar signs, unfortunately, it’s best to throw out those items as well. If they show no signs of any critters, we recommend freezing the food for a week to kill any remaining eggs, just to be safe.

Don’t panic if your dog eats food containing moths at any stage of their development. The good news is that pantry moths are not known to carry any diseases that will harm you or your pet.

Although they are not a significant health risk, these flying bugs are still unsightly. If the thought of serving your furry friend infested food sends shivers down your spine, take the time to check for a moth presence when purchasing new food:

  • Sift through the first 4 inches of the food and carefully inspect it. They rarely go any deeper than 4 inches from the surface. 
  • Look for tiny white eggs, worm-like insects, casings, and 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.

Prevent and Get Rid of Moths in Pet Food with These Natural Solutions:

  • To prevent moths from inhabiting your pet’s food, dump the entire bag into an airtight container after thoroughly inspecting it. Any others nearby 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 a sealed container or a freezer, if it’s freezer friendly.
  • Promptly recycle or remove any boxes or food packaging that it came in because moth eggs may be hidden under the seams or inside the corrugate of cardboard boxes.
  • Clean up the storage area where traces of pet food may be present. Vacuum and wipe away any crumbs in the surrounding area. Doing so will eliminate any attractants that may lure them 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 is recommended for the most effective prevention. The pouches work 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 they seek out when looking for a safe place to lay 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. 
  • If you come across an issue with these pests, it’s best to act quickly. Find the culprit, remove it from your home, inspect the surrounding area, and then clean every inch of the space. For more information and control methods on pantry moths, click here.

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

  1. it is not only dog food but also bird seed. I poured the bird seed in the bottom bin of my refrigerator to keep cold and I still had the moths. I finally bought gallon size freezer zip bags and put the seed in the freezer bag and put the bags in the freezer. It did work for my parrot. I have a Yorkie now , and did the same with his food and had no problem problem. I know that would be hard to do when you have a large breed, and have to buy large bags of food. I hope you all have good results with any thing you try.

  2. I have heard of this problem with purnia over and over again. Not just on this site but on other sites related to pantry moths.

    • Hi Diane,

      Being a pet parent is a lot of work, but taking a few extra steps to prevent pest infestations in your dog food at home is worth the love and companionship of our four legged friends. I hope these tips make that job a little easier for you!

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I came across this thread because I too found moths flying out of our cat’s big bag of Purina cat food . What’s going on with Purina?? I’ll be crious to see what comes of this in the (hopefully) near future. A recall maybe? Date of comment : 9/21/2019

  4. I have had the same issue with Putin’s dog food – wasted 55 pounds now several times . Each bag comes like that and I’m getting fed up

  5. I also bought Purina One dog food, the largest bag there is and soon enough the moths were flying out of the container I put the dog food in. Two weeks later I took it to Petsmart and they replaced the bag for free without a receipt. The only problem I got the exactly the same thing and now I am having exactly the same problem. I plan to take this bag back again and never buy Purina dog brand again.

  6. I have had the same issue with Purina cat food. House and garage and truck totally infested. Not just with Indian meal moths but numerous. Are these cases related?

    • Hi Connie,

      It’s hard to say whether the situations you describe are related or not, but to prevent reinfestation, take care to inspect the packaging when purchasing dry pet food and other grain based product in particular. Before bringing the cat food into your home, try emptying it out of the original bag and storing it in an airtight container. Moths are not able to withstand extreme cold, so if you are able to place the food in a freezer for a few days, that will help. To prevent moths from moving into other areas of your home, use our pet-friendly Stay Away Moths repellent pouches in the house.
      Thanks for reading!

  7. I’m very upset!!!
    I’ve been noticing little irritating moth like bugs flying around my house for about a month now and I thought it was because the weather was changing & they just flew in as the kids & I entered & exited but I googled the disgusting thing and saw that it was an Indian food bug that also came from the large bag of purina dog food… I went to open the bag & what seemed like a thousand of those things flew out ,now I’m having a very hard time trying to get rid of them… I have a solution of bleach, water and fabuloso in a spray bottle that has been working, it’s just bothersome and I feel that Purina should be responsible for refunds of the contaminated food…

  8. I have had the same problem with Purina bagged dog food. After these moths came in my home in a box of dog treats, I immediately threw the treats out, but a few were left to find another nesting place in my home. So I sealed up all my dog food , except for a larger box of dog treats I had already opened. The moths did find the open box and settled in. Without fully opening the box, I taped it shut and put it in plastic bags and put box and all in my outside garbage can. I think that is the end of them. But will see in a few weeks if they reappear.

    • Hey Mary,

      It definitely sounds like you’ve taken all the right steps to get the moth problem under control. Thanks for sharing, and please keep us posted on how things are going!

  9. I just purchased a plastic pail (8KG) of Purina Dog Chow and it was full of adults moths that flew out in a cluster as I opened the pail. I immediately put the pail outside (-14’C) and will throw it out on garbage day. Now to secure my other dry goods! Yuccch!

    • Hey Lynn,
      That’s a bummer, but it sounds like you’re taking the right steps to control the moth problem! Storing food (including pet food) in sealed, airtight containers is definitely the best way to prevent moths and other pantry pests. And it wouldn’t hurt to use a few pouches of Stay Away Moths for added protection.

      Good luck and please let us know if you have any other questions! Thanks for reading 🙂

  10. 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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