Saturday, December 7, 2013

How to get rid of pantry moths - Solutions from my home to yours

Hello, everyone!

So, I originally made this blog as a beauty blog, but there's nothing more beautiful than feeling comfortable in your own home. I recently purchased my home in May and since the home didn't come with a kitchen pantry, me and my boyfriend built one next to our refrigerator. What came next: Pantry moths (Indian meal moth, Plodia interpunctella)

I had never seen or grown up with these bugs, so I thought they were just these harmless kitchen bugs that my son would stomp on every now and again. But, a few turned into many...and many turned into more...and we finally did our research on how to get rid of these bugs!

Why are they such pests, you ask? It isn't the adult bug that is necessarily the pest, it's their life cycle. These bugs can lay anywhere from 60-400 eggs that turn into larvae and those larvae eat EVERYTHING IN YOUR PANTRY. Hence, why they are called pantry moths since the adult lays their eggs close to a food source for their babies to thrive off of.

I will guide you through a step-by-step process on how to get rid of these pests. It will take time and persistence, meaning after the initial cleaning madness, you will have to maintain the ridding process weekly, and within 6 to 12 months (possibly sooner), they should be completely gone. I am going to walk you through their life cycle first because that is the only way I was able to kill them. I had to understand how to effect each part of their life cycle and eventually get rid of them FOR GOOD.

Picture of Pantry moth eggs, from Wikipedia

Eggs are extremely tiny, usually smaller than 0.5 mm, so very difficult to see with the human eye. Female moths lay anywhere from 60-400 on a food source/surface, usually in your pantry. These eggs hatch between 2-14 days. 

Picture of pantry moths in the larvae stage, after the egg hatches

Larvae are the MAJOR issue. Once "hatched," their sole purpose is to EAT YOUR FOOD. They eat cereal products, whole grains, dried fruit, pet food, bird seed, chocolate milk (powder), nuts, etc. They are about the size of the end of a pen. After 1-2 weeks of feasting, they seek a nice, dark corner in your pantry (or wherever else) to cocoon and prepare for their debut as a Pupae (adult). (They could emerge as an adult between 2-41 weeks, colder temperatures slow the process). 

Pupae, adult stage

Now they are adults and the only thing on their mind is to find a mate and reproduce, attracted by the pheromone of the female pantry moth. When you see these bugs at night, flying around, they are most likely looking for a mate. The female lays her eggs and then she dies, since adults only live for 1-2 weeks.

There can be up to 4-6 generations of Pantry Moths that inhabit your home in only ONE YEAR.


1) Large trash bags. ($1.00 at Dollar Tree)
2) Mason Jars or Airtight Containers (This is what you will be using to put food in AFTER you have cleaned out your pantry. Pantry moths can chew through ziplock/plastic bags and almost any bagging that grocery stores put food in. Glass, metal or plastic containers only!)
3) Spray Bottle ($1.00 at Dollar Tree)
4) Lysol Disinfectant Wipes or any disinfecting cleaner ($1.00 at Dollar Tree)
5) White Vinegar ($0.82 at Target)
6) Peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus or tea tree (We bought Peppermint because it was easiest to find at Target) ($2.99 at Target)
7) Bay Leaves ($2.79 at Target)
8) Pheromone Traps
9) CatchMaster/HotShot/Raid - Flying Insect Killer ($4.49 at Target)
10) Crack and Crevice Insecticide 
11) Towel ($1.00 at Dollar Tree)
12) Patience and Persistence!

(All together, I spent about $40.00. That is better than having to throw away more food and waste money!)

1) Clean your pantry NOW! Better and more thoroughly than you've ever cleaned it before. Anything that is not in a jar, can or already in an airtight container, YOU NEED TO CHECK. If you find webbing in or around food, throw it away or if you feel that it has already been contaminated, throw it away. I took extra precaution and basically threw out my whole pantry. Cleaning your pantry with the larvae and food removes the larvaes chance to become adults and mate, and also removes their food source. 

Our pantry with literally everything thrown away. Hence the one lonely jar of peanut butter and jelly.

2) Any bugs or larvae/contaminated food that you do find, put in the trash bag immediately. I live in Ohio, so once I finished, I put the bags on my back porch to freeze and kill them. DO NOT KEEP THE TRASH BAGS IN THE HOUSE. Put them in the garage or on the back porch until trash day, and don't leave them up against/touching a wall in your home. These bugs are resilient. 
3) Scrub the pantry with hot water and soap, including all corners, crevices and door hinges. Clean with Lysol wipes/Disinfectant spray after.
4) Mix white vinegar and a few drops of peppermint (citronella, eucalyptus or tea tree) in a spray bottle. Spray everywhere in the pantry and where you saw the bugs/larvae. This deters them from coming back/repels them. 

5) Use your towel (we got a microfiber towel) to dry all your shelves, crack and crevices since these pests thrive off moisture.
6) Vacuum out the pantry and every crevice in the kitchen. The insects feeds off the tiniest of crumbs. Vacuum any adult bugs and larvae. Clean out vacuum into the trash bag. 
7) Lay the bay leaves in the pantry. These repel the pantry moths. Also, and most importantly, put down pheromone traps/pantry pest traps down. They should be in high places, around the same area that the adults fly (the pheromone attracts the adults as if it was a female ready to mate). I put them on top of my kitchen cabinets, close to where the ceiling meets the wall.
8) Use the HotShot/Raid/CatchMaster Flying Insect Killer to spray the bugs. In my experience, the Raid kills on contact. 
9) Before buying new food/putting food back, use crack and crevice insecticide spray. DO NOT SPRAY THIS WHEN FOOD IS IN THE PANTRY. Follow directions on when you're allowed to put food back. 


**Killing the Adults does NOT stop the problem. If you see adults, that means that there are eggs or larvae already and you need to stop the problem at the source...The Larvae!!**

**Other repellents include lavendar, cedar or mint...if you can't find Bay Leaves**


1) Pantry moths can come from the food you get at the grocery store so to keep an infestation from coming back, check any starchy products you buy (wheat, grain, oats, flour, rice) before putting them into sealed canisters. You can also keep these items bagged in the freezer to store until you need it. 
2) Making sure that the larvae have NO food source is a good way to make sure these pests don't come back. Be diligent in keeping the pantry clean and crumb free.  
3) Keep spraying and setting out the pheromone traps at least a few times per week. 


Aunt Norma's All Natural Pantry Moth Spray*

Black Flag Pantry Pest Control*
Found at: Lowes or Home Depot

Pro Pest Pheronet - Pantry Moth Pheromone Trap*
Found at: Amazon
*Please read all warnings on these products! They might not be safe to have around children, pets or food so spray and use accordingly 


-Using a dish of olive oil to attract the adult pantry moths (they get stuck and die)
-Using a glass or wine to attract the adult pantry moths (and drown them)

I hope I helped! I realized that by keeping these pantry moths was a little bit of a lifestyle change! I had to constantly keep food in jars or airtight containers...but it kept things fresher for longer! Be persistent and these pests WILL GO AWAY!

Good Luck!!

Following the steps from my post, I had gotten rid of them within 3 WEEKS and they have NOT returned. The winter has been really horrible in Ohio, so mother nature can take some credit for them not returning.

However, at least once a month I spray with the peppermint/vinegar solution as well as lay bay leaves down in my pantry. There has not been one bug since. 

As always, good luck!


  1. Thanks, this is really helpful. Just knowing what these darned things are is a weight off.

  2. What a fantabulous post this has been. . I am grateful to you and expect more number of posts like these. Thank you very much.
    pest control san antonio

  3. Hello there! Tnaks author for the great information! Want to know, how i can to use the Naturally repellents and where i need to place them or something like that, cause i new in this case! Thanks!