I’ve really struggled with whether or not to write this post. I know y’all would probably rather read about risotto, chocolate cakes and bacon wrapped cheese stuffed doodles. If you are squeamish, this might not be the post for you. Sometimes though, there are things you just need to know such as HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS?
So consider this in the same boat with “gotta eat your veggies”. Maybe you don’t want to know, but honey – you NEED TO KNOW HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS.
Because I went to my local grocery store yesterday to buy all-purpose flour to make “THE Chocolate Cake”. As I searched for my favorite flour I noticed a dead moth on the shelf.
Then as I looked closer, I saw…..
Oh what I saw…..
Gave me the Heebie Jeebies.
And then I got mad. Mad as that hot place.
Why did I get mad?
Because I have battled these darn things in the past. It’s more than a battle, it’s an ALL OUT WAR!! In fact, it is likely that I contracted these things from this very store!
I don’t want you to have to do a battle too, so that is why I’m writing this article today about…..
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS
Just let me leave a little disclaimer right here: I am NOT a bug professional. I do not represent any extermination company. I do know,HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS though.
I HAVE dealt with these things in the past. I have sufficient education to discuss moths at a certain level. Mostly, I have researched the heck out of these things and beyond that I CARE about my readers and want you to know the truth.
If you google pantry moths, you’ll be led to a number of articles written by individuals and companies with a solution to sell. That is so irritating. What you need when you encounter these bugs is REAL INFORMATION AND SOLUTIONS!
I have nothing to sell here- and the solution is fairly low cost but high activity. (I have included a link to moth traps below – just so you can click through and look at them – I DO NOT recommend that option though).
A NOTE ABOUT THESE PHOTOS OF PANTRY MOTHS
I took these photos at one of my local grocery stores. I did go report the issue to the manager. She immediately took a grocery cart and pulled the flour from the shelves.
I do not know what measures were taken to remove the moths from the store. Maybe we should suggest that they read HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS, lol.
In the photos, I have done my best to remove identifying information from the bags of flour. Just so you know, the brand of flour doesn’t really matter. A pantry moth can infect nearly any food stuff. I just happened to see these at the store while doing my shopping.
HOW DO YOU GET PANTRY MOTHS TO BEGIN WITH?
Like a case of the chicken pox, you contract pantry moths usually through no fault of your own. You buy flour at the store and the moth eggs are in the flour.
You go home, put the bag in the cabinet and in a week or two tiny moths are flying in your kitchen.
The moths are so tiny, you might not even notice at first. I mean moths fly in when you open the back door. Your initial reaction is probably going to be, “Oh, a moth got in the house”. One would never really think that they might be coming from your baking cabinet!
But nope, if they are pantry moths, they aren’t coming from outside they are coming from that bag of flour.
WHY ARE PANTRY MOTHS HARD TO GET RID OF?
These insidious moths are so difficult to get rid of because they hide in EVERYTHING. Plus, they are TINY! See the following photo – look for the orange arrow.
If there is food they can get into, then they will. Cat food, bird seed, a bag of pecan halves, hot chocolate mix, loaf bread, crumbs lying on the cabinet shelf – seriously anything.
Never ever underestimate their ability to enter food containers either. Like tiny Houdini’s they crawl into absolutely everything.
WHAT DO PANTRY MOTHS LOOK LIKE?
Pantry moths are fairly small. The newly hatched moths are about as big around as a pencil eraser when their wings are spread. The full grown moths are about the size of your thumbnail when their wings are spread. When folded up and resting, they look like a light brown triangle or a stick about ½ inch long.
Pantry moths fly in a nonsensical pattern flying up and down or in big loops. This makes it difficult to kill one. Keep trying!
WHERE DO PANTRY MOTHS LIVE ?
This is important when trying to figure out HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS. They like to live in and on the kitchen cabinets. They can get down in the cracks in the cabinet and hang out and have their babies there too.
They particularly enjoy the bottom of the upper cabinets. You won’t immediately notice them.
If you have pantry moths, you may notice the little spider web like strings they leave on things. See where the green arrows are pointing? That is the stringy stuff.
WHAT IS THE LIFE CYCLE OF A PANTRY MOTH?
The pantry moth that comes home with you might actually start as an egg in the flour you bought. It will turn into a small whitish colored worm – like a caterpillar with no hair. It eats the flour. If it was hatched in your cabinets, it might be subsisting on little pieces of flour or other foodstuffs that have fallen there. Eventually, like a caterpillar they will make a cocoon. See the arrow pointing to the cocoon?
After a time, usually about 30 days, the cocoon will open and the moth will emerge. It will delight in flying around your kitchen and into your face.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS ?
I wish it was as easy as saying, “Just call an exterminator”. It isn’t. I’m giving you what I know to be true.
The exterminator I talked to said that because the life cycle is lived out in foodstuffs, there isn’t anything that they can spray to kill the little worms/caterpillars or even the moths. Once you have seen the actual moths, you have a BIG problem.
He said that the information outlined below is the only way to get rid of them.
After much research on the topic, below is what I suggest. You might not want to take all of these steps because it seems like a huge overwhelming job. It is. However, doing this once is better than doing it over and over because you didn’t get rid of all of them all right away the first time.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS
- Remove everything from your kitchen cabinets. Throw away any open box of flour, baking mix, spices, cookies, bread, breading mix, corn meal, etc. (I know, this is expensive and will likely make you cry). The only exception is if it is still sealed from the store – with the exception of flour – if it is flour, just toss it. EVEN TOSS IT OUT if you have it in an alternative container with a sealable lid. You can wash the container and keep it.
- Use the hose on your vacuum to vacuum every nook and cranny of every cabinet. Every one. Don’t miss a single crevice. Make sure the vacuum the little holes that hold the shelf brackets. If you have liner paper in your cabinets, toss it.
- Clean out your vacuum. Throw the bag away and clean out the suction container.
- Use a 1:10 bleach solution (using hot water) or use vinegar and wash every surface of every cabinet in your kitchen. Wash the undersides too. Wash the backs and fronts of the cabinet doors. Wash the back walls. MAKE SURE TO USE GOOD VENTILATION.
- If you have raisers and racks in your cabinets for holding things, remove them and wash them well. Put them in the dishwasher if you can. If you use containers to keep your opened items in, wash those as well. Basically, if it has been in the cabinet, wash it.
- Dry everything very well before putting it back in the cabinet.
- If you keep bird seed for a pet bird in the house, throw it out. When you buy more to feed your bird – keep it in the freezer. Clean your birdcage as described above for cabinets.
- If the birdseed is for the outside wild birds, just keep it somewhere outside and get whatever seed you have in your house outside. Clean the container that it has been kept in very well.
- Take the trash outside as soon as you have finished throwing things out.
Once you have followed these steps, you should be free from them. However, you will need to be vigilant to make sure that you don’t get them again. If you see more – repeat the above steps.
HOW TO PREVENT GETTING PANTRY MOTHS
Prevention, in this case, is certainly worth a pound of cure – or more! If I had known what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have contracted them to begin with. It is better to know how to PREVENT pantry moths than HOW DO YOU GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS.
- CHECK THE STORE FOR MOTHS. When purchasing any type of flour/cornmeal/etc, check the shelves at the store. Look towards the back of the shelf for flying moths, dead moths and moths resting on the underside of the shelf above. Check several shelves. You might be afraid that you will look like some kind of weirdo moving bags of flour around – but trust me – it’s better to feel like a weirdo than to battle these awful moths.
- If you find ANY evidence of moths, just walk away. Go to another store to buy your flour. Believe me, it is well worth your effort to avoid these buggers.
- Buy the more popular brand of flour – it moves off of the shelves quicker and will be less likely to be infested.
- When you get the flour home, put it in the freezer for at least 5 days. Keep it in the freezer as its permanent place if you can. Same goes for corn meal or anything like that. I have started putting anything that I bake with in the freezer for at least 5 days.
You might think these measures are extreme. Maybe they are. But you want to get rid of them, right? Well then, you have to get rid of them.
BUT AREN’T THERE OTHER WAYS THAT ARE EASIER?
If you start investigating, you will see mentions of spreading Bay leaves in the cabinet. I do not know first hand if this works- it might. If you are going to try this, then I would recommend watching my video about saving money on herbs and spices where I specifically discuss Bay leaves. Bay leaves can be expensive, so follow my instructions. I’ve included that video just below this paragraph.
You will also see mention of moth traps. I haven’t tried this method either. My gut reaction is, it is a sticky paper (like fly paper) that is treated with an attractive pheromone. My fear is that the moth won’t find the paper until it has already bred and laid eggs. That’s exactly TOO LATE.
Here is a link to information about purchasing Pantry Moth Traps. This is an affiliate link – as that is the best way for me to show you a picture. I do not recommend this method, however.
WILL IT HURT YOU TO EAT PANTRY MOTH EGGS, PUPAE (caterpillars) OR EVEN THE MOTHS ?
The answer? I don’t know. My guess is probably not. Frankly I don’t want to think about it because it makes me gaggy. Perhaps if you were starving you might want a little extra protein in your bread – but as for me, right now, ummm. No thanks. We will just leave this conversation right here.
A VERSE TO SHARE
Now, that I am itching from thinking about bugs and moths and creepy crawlies, I really need to talk about something else, don’t you? Yes!
Let’s talk about believing in yourself.
You have things that you would like to accomplish, right? Do any of them seem huge and unconquerable? I bet some do. What is holding you back?
Do you think you don’t have all the skills you need? Do you believe that it would be more work than you are willing to do? Are you physically unable? Seriously, what is it that is holding you back?
Have you prayed about it? Have you analyzed what you would need to start?
Is the thing you want to do in line with who you are as a person?
Do you want to start a business of your own? Do you want to climb a mountain? Do you want to go on a foreign vacation? Do you want to learn to make pottery?
Then what is holding you back?
My guess is that whatever it is that is holding you back is mostly YOU! I know that has been true in my own life.
I say I want to do things but then I allow self defeating thoughts to creep in and before you know it, before I have even taken ONE step forward, I’m already defeated saying, “What is the use, I’ll never be able to get it done, it is TOO BIG”.
When we talk ourselves into stopping before we even start we are losing out on some wonderful experiences.
What is the worst thing that could happen if you fail at the thing you want to do?
You might lose some money? You might not be able to get into good enough physical shape to accomplish it? You might fail and embarrass yourself?
If you could adjust your thinking a bit and see the tiny steps required to go where you want to go, you might find that you wouldn’t have to risk SO much money to start. You could try to get into better shape and whatever shape you achieve, you have WON! Just accept that you might not make it, but it won’t be because of lack of effort.
God believes in you too and he wants you to succeed.
My own experience has been that if you want to succeed at your plans you will
- Have to give up some things that you currently do – it is comfortable to scroll facebook for 15 minutes 3-4 times per day when you are tired. That is an hour that you could have worked on your goal!
- Have to give up self defeating thoughts – self defeating thoughts are easy – working towards your goal is hard.
- Figure out a workable plan that fits with your budget and your time – your budget and your time might have to make adjustments, which is (again) hard.
- Put your mind to it and work relentlessly. Decide for yourself that you will rely on God and be guided by his words.
- Pray for strength and discernment about what you are doing. Pray that your goals will bless others. In the end, when we are measured, God will look for the things you have done that followed his guidance. He will be looking for the things you built using your gold, silver and stones. The things you have done using wood hay and straw will be blown away.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Friday 27th of December 2019
Wendi , love hearing from you , my NC friend ! A about pantry moths , we have had them them the last 3 years . A pest control friend says no moth traps , that just draws them ! He recommended the vacuuming , and store dry goods in the fridge ! That has helped! Tried storing cookies in the fridge but we ate them too fast ! Thank you for your sharedScripture and wisdom , May God-continue to bless you ! From your NC pastor wife serving inTexas ! Mis my NC BRBQ !
Saturday 28th of December 2019
Hi Lynn! Boy howdy, those things are a pain! It's hard to get rid of them but totally worth the effort. Best wishes!
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Thursday 8th of August 2019
Excellent blog you've got here.. It's hard to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!
Monday 11th of March 2019
Hi there, I was wondering if there are dead pantry months under my kitchen cupboard , meaning like in the crack like near the ground and they are dead should I panic?
Monday 11th of March 2019
Hi Mel. Don’t panic, but it does mean that you need to do a thorough search. Think about it. Have you noticed small moths taking flight around your pantry or kitchen. They have a real Willy nilly flight pattern. You might think they are just moths from outside that came in. Check thoroughly in all your cabinets, bags of flour, etc.
Wednesday 3rd of October 2018
Hi Wendi, thanks for this awesome post! I came across it while looking for a method to get rid of pantry moths! They have ruined my pantries (I have a front and back pantry but both are in the kitchen). I had to throw out a newly opened 10 lb bag of King Arthur flour:( . I have completed cleaning the larger pantry and had several boxes of unopened cake mix and fish breading. I examined them closely and didn't see any signs of those horrid little creatures but, should I just throw them out or place them in the freezer for five days? Also, how long after I've cleaned the pantry should I wait before returning the food - I bought all new baking supplies and pasta ( which are now in airtight, clear storage containers). Thank you again for the post - it gave me so much encouragement and it helped me to remember that "God has not given us the spirit of fear..." I will get rid of these horrid pests!! Thanks again!
Wednesday 3rd of October 2018
Paula- prayers my friend. If you can spare the freezer space then I would put all new and older baking supplies in the freezer for five days and see if you come across any live moths in your house.
Saturday 10th of February 2018
Just found moths in my breadcrumbs! I had never experienced this until now. I’m saddened that I will have to throw out all my goods in the pantry but your blog really helped! I loved the last part about having the courage and strength to try something new. Thanks so much!!!
Sunday 11th of February 2018
Hi Katie! Dealing with those moths can feel like a trip through hell! I can say from experience though - if you don't deal with them right the first time they will linger and ruin a lot more stuff! Peace and good luck. If you need any advice just message me. :)