How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths in Your Kitchen Cupboards

Updated on August 30, 2018
Moths will take refuge in your kitchen cupboards if you aren't careful. Read on to discover how to recognize an infestation before it's too late!
Moths will take refuge in your kitchen cupboards if you aren't careful. Read on to discover how to recognize an infestation before it's too late! | Source

Have you ever opened your kitchen cupboard one morning and had moths fly out at you? Even worse, have you ever opened your favourite box of cereal or bag of cookie mix and found tiny little grubs wriggling in it? YUCK! Fortunately, moths are household pests that are not dangerous to humans (even when producing in large numbers) and, they do not carry any diseases or parasites known to harm people.

How to Recognize a Pantry Moth Infestation

Moths and larvae of the kitchen cupboards are commonly known as 'pantry moths', 'flour moths', 'meal moths' or 'grain moths'. They love to both lay their eggs in and feast on your dried goods. Then they weave cocoons in any crevice they can find before emerging to start the cycle again.

Pantry moths are usually about a centimetre long and are grey in colour. You can find them flying around in any room in the house. At first, you're likely to only notice one or two, but before long they seem to be all over the place.

You will also notice clumps in your flour and cereal that seem to be held together with little pieces of a spider's web. Empty cocoons on the folds of paper bags and the corners of grocery boxes is also a sign of a moth infestation. The tiny little grubs can be seen wriggling in your food containers or swinging from cupboard doors and oven hoods on thin threads. The larvae can even burrow their way into unopened boxes and packets of dry foods! If you see boxes missing corners, then beware!

Be advised that it is actually more common for you to have these types of moths in your house if you eat organic foods as the package has the potential to already be contaminated before you bring it home.

How to Treat a Moth Infestation

Decide on a day when you can thoroughly clean ALL of your kitchen and not just the cupboards where the dried good are stored. As I mentioned before, the maggots will spin their cocoons in any crevice that they can find.

Throw away all your dried goods that are not stored in air-tight containers. Then clean out all the cupboards and drawers using water and vinegar or soap and water. Make sure that you reach into all the corners. Also, wash the outside of any cans and containers, to remove any microscopic larvae.

Clean all the baseboards and crown moldings as well, and behind any movable furniture.

Safety First

Remember, it's much better to NOT use chemicals in areas where you store food.

Traps That Treat for Pantry Moths Without Using Harmful Chemicals

There are some traps on the market that use natural pheromones to attract the male moth. However, to use these traps you need to know what kind of moth you are dealing with. The table below will help you do this.

The 3 Most Common Types of Pantry Moths

The Angoumois Grain Moth
The Mediterranean Flour Moth
The Indian Meal Moth
The Angoumois Grain is the smallest of the three pantry moths. It has either a grey or yellow-brown colouring. Its back wings are narrow to a point and it has long hairs.
The Mediterranean Flour Moth is little larger than the Angoumois Grain Moth. It is a pale grey colour and has two black lines on its front wings.
The Indian Meal Moth is the largest pantry moth. It has pale, grey wings and a reddish-brown coloring on its outer front wings.

How to Keep the Moths Away After a Good Cleaning

  • Remove the moths' food supply by ensuring that all your dried goods are stored in sealed containers.
  • Wipe up any spills of crumbs quickly to prevent the moths an opportunity to lay eggs. Empty the tray under the toaster regularly.
  • Inspect any dried foods you bring into the house as well as you can for moths. You can put your grain-based groceries into the freezer for about 4 days if you are still concerned. This will kill any eggs or larva that are inside.
  • Clean cupboards and shelves regularly, and remember to clean the corners of the ceiling. Ensure that cracks inside cupboards are sealed and that fitted cupboards are as close fitting to the walls as possible.
  • Make sure that you have the screens closed on the windows in the spring and summer so that they don't come calling from neighboring homes either. Remember that one single female moth has the capacity to lay about 400 eggs, so keeping their levels right down is important. If there is no available food supply, then the female will not lay any eggs.

Summer Cleaning to Prevent Infestations

Take note that a moth's life cycle speeds up when the weather is warmer, so it's even more important to keep surfaces clean during the summertime.

Tips From Culinary Experts

This forum thread has some great information and tips. Pantry moths can be very pesky to get rid of and often come back year by year. Sharing information about what works and what doesn't is always helpful.

A natural way to keep the moths at bay is to put sprigs of rosemary or mint into the cupboards. This is also an effective method against clothes moth infestations. Although the rosemary smells good to us, it will work to drive the moths away.

Another method is to use a dried orange pomander into which cloves have been inserted. These are popular at Christmas time and smell really good! The video below shows you how to make one.

Questions & Answers

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      • FloraBreenRobison profile image

        FloraBreenRobison 

        7 years ago

        Thanks for sharing a nonchemical way to get rid of moths. I've never had to deal with them -so far. Glad to hear they are not harmful either. I know some people who had moths eat into their clothes too.

      • Nerak2Karen profile image

        Nerak2Karen 

        7 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

        I remember opening a bag of flour and a box of rice and having little bugs in it. I didn't know that they were moths. Very interesting. I will bookmark your hub for later use. Thank you for sharing.

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