How To Get Rid of Pantry Moths

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Pantry free of pantry moths

Have you ever opened a cereal box only to discover that there are moths living in and eating your food? None of us want to contend with a pantry moth infestation, but it can happen to anyone. Pantry moths aren’t only unsanitary but can cost you a lot of money when it comes to replacing groceries. If you are worried about moths invading your pantries, check out these tips on how to get rid of pantry moths. 

What Are Pantry Moths?

The pantry moth, also known as the Indian meal moth, is a small gray, tan, or brown flying insect and is considered one of the most common household pests in the U.S. Pantry moths can chew through plastic bags and cardboard containers to get inside where they feed and lay eggs. 

Pantry Moth vs Clothes Moth

Some people might think a moth is a moth, but there are some stark differences between pantry moths and clothes moths.

Pantry Moth

Pantry moths are small insects that have bronze or dark gray wings with a wingspan of about 5/8 of an inch. A pantry moth will be most comfortable in the kitchen, where there's plenty of food for it to eat. They feed on loose grains, sugars, and pasta but they can even be attracted to pet food and dried fruits. 

Clothes Moths

Clothes moths are a solid whitish-gray or have darker brown or gray spots on the wingsThese moths feed on a protein found in natural fibers and hair called keratin. Things like silk, leather, wool, animal fur, pet hair, and even human hair are all on the menu. A moth may be small but they can do some real damage to your garments if you aren’t careful. 

Are Moths Dangerous?

In general, moths are not dangerous. As far as humans are concerned, they don't attack or harm us. Unlike wasps, spiders, and ants, moths do not bite or sting, though they can be a nuisance and can contaminate food. 

Life Cycle of Pantry Moths

Understanding the life-cycle of a pantry moth is key to getting rid of them. 

Egg Stage

A female Pantry Moth can lay on average, about 300 eggs over the course of 18 days. Eggs are laid near food, especially those that smell strongly or are poorly packaged. Within seven days of laying the eggs, they will hatch. 

Larvae Stage

Pantry moth larvae cause the most damage during their larval stage. As they eat and eat, they excrete a waste called frass. Frass and webbing will contaminate the food, rendering it unfit for consumption. In general, the larval stage lasts 2-3 months, depending on conditions and food availability. 

Pupa Stage

Once they have eaten enough to pupate, the pupae will move to corners of the pantry, behind furniture, or even beneath other objects in the pantry. After 15-20 days the pupa metamorphosed into adult moths. Females lay their eggs immediately after emerging from their cocoons while males go about fertilizing the eggs. Then the cycle starts all over again. 

What Attracts Pantry Moths?

Pantry moths are attracted to the sweet smells coming from your pantry. They aren’t picky about their food either. Moths love to eat:

  • Bread
  • Flour
  • Rice
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Grains
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Cake mixes
  • Pet food

 

How To Prevent Pantry Moths

Even though it may seem like pantry moths just appear out of nowhere, most of the time they get into our homes through our groceries. Here are some helpful tips to prevent you from bringing a pantry moth infestation into your home.

  • After shopping, transfer dry goods and grains to air-tight containers.
  • Use a washcloth with soap and water to wash down canned and bottled goods
  • Remove adhesive shelf liners or contact paper. Pantry moths love to build cocoons or lay eggs under them.
  • Use natural repellents, such as dry bay leaves or lavender, to deter moths.

What Smells Do Pantry Moths Hate?

No one likes the smell of mothballs. Luckily there are natural methods that are just as effective and often cheaper. To prevent future infestations, try these natural remedies to get rid of moths, such as:

  • Mint
  • Lavender 
  • Cedar
  • Cloves 
  • Thyme 
  • Bay Leaf

 

What To Do If You Have Pantry Moths

Once you have pantry moths it can be a real chore to get rid of them. Leaving a cocoon or egg behind can cause the infestation to begin anew in no time at all. Here are some tips to get rid of pantry moths completely: 

#1: Throw It All Out

If you have an infestation the best thing to do is cut your losses and toss everything in your pantry. This is the only way to be sure that all moths, eggs, and larvae are out of your pantry. Leaving something behind could contaminate future food containers. 

#2: Remove Shelving and Contact Paper 

Moths love to lay their eggs and pupate in the corners of the pantry and under the contact paper. Take out all your shelves and check where the shelves meet the wall and clean thoroughly. Remove all contact paper to discourage moths from laying eggs.

#3: Disinfect 

In a squirt bottle, mix vinegar with 3 parts water and add 5-10 drops of peppermint oil. Then wipe down everything, every surface, crevice, and hole where moth eggs can be hiding. 

#4: Protect Your Food

Place all food that could be contaminated by moths into a sealed glass or plastic container. This goes for all rice, cereals, and pasta.

FAQ About Pantry Moths

Many people have questions about pantry moths. We are here to help you answer those questions as best as we can.

Do Moths Spread Disease?

No, moths are not known to spread diseases. They can contaminate your food which might make your stomach turn, but they pose no threat to your health.

Are Pantry Moths Dormant in Winter?

Pantry moths do not die off during the winter, instead, they enter a state of hibernation called diapause. Before going dormant, they'll find warm places with food sources to lay their eggs.

Do Pantry Moths Go Away On Their Own?

If there is a steady supply of food for then, pantry moths will not go away and will continue to lay eggs. They will go away if all food is removed but this process can take weeks or even months.

Why Do I Have Pantry Moths?

Pantry moths can enter your home through no fault of your own. They can find their way in naturally if they smell some good food or they can hitch a ride on your groceries like a Trojan horse.

Call The Pest Control Experts

If you are having trouble with pantry moths, it’s time to call the professionals. At Deans Services we offer professional pest control services in Florida that will get rid of all existing infestations and prevent future ones from occurring.

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