Plan to Eat Black Friday 50% Off Sale
Plan to Eat Meal Planner and Grocery List Maker

Got Pantry Moths? Here’s What To Do.

A few years ago, I noticed that a tiny moth flew out every time I opened the pantry door. Then I found strange, cobweb-type webbing in a bag of raw cashews I’d gotten from a bulk bin. I started Googling and realized in one skin-crawling moment: We’d been invaded by pantry moths.

Pantry moths (aka Indianmeal Moths or Flour Moths) are small, grayish-brown insects that earned their nickname because they eat grains like flour, cereal, and pasta. They also feast on dried fruit, nuts, spices, tea, and candy. In other words, all the stuff we store in our pantry and cupboards.

They often get into the house through a bag of flour or other grain that contains the moth eggs or larvae. Bulk bins are also common breeding grounds, which is where our moth problem likely started.

It’s definitely gross. But a pantry moth infestation is also expensive, because it can mean losing lots of food. As meal planners, we typically have well-stocked pantries, full of the kinds of meal staples like rice and pasta that pantry moths love. So it’s important to root out the problem ASAP – and be vigilant going forward, or those bugs can come back.

So if you find yourself with a pantry moth problem, here’s what to do:

three glass containers of noodles on a kitchen counter

Do an inspection: Take everything out of your pantry and cupboards. Look at each item for moths (alive or dead), larvae (tiny worms), eggs (which look like clumps of grain), or webbing that the worms spin. Keep in mind that because the larvae can chew through plastic bags and cardboard, even some unopened packages may be infected. Toss any infected food and put the trash outside right away. 

Deep clean: Wipe down your empty shelves and pantry walls with soap and water or with white vinegar. Be sure to get into the corners and crevices where they might be hiding with your rag (or even the vacuum). Then keep the area clean by wiping it down regularly.

Transfer grains: The best way to store things is in glass containers with lids (moths can get underneath loose-fitting plastic lids). But no need to spend a fortune on this process. I repurpose empty, glass peanut butter jars and canning jars to store stuff.

Freeze flour: When you bring home a new bag of flour, seal it in a ziptop plastic bag and store it in the freezer for a week to kill any moth eggs.

Get a trap: We’ve had good luck using non-toxic pheromone traps in the pantry. The traps emit pheromones that attract the male moths and kill them, preventing them from breeding. Bay leaves can also ward off moths, so keep one in the corner of your shelf or inside containers, switching it out every few months. You can also tuck bay leaves into containers of grains.

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and author who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition, a no-judgement zone about feeding a family.

Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest: @realmomnutrition

You may also like...

Join The Tribe

Try it FREE for 14 Days! No credit card needed!

Only $5.95/month or $49/year if you choose to subscribe.