Pantry moths are unwelcome guests who live to eat you out of house and home. They are destructive pests that can eat through all of the stored food in your cabinets and pantry. Plus, they lay eggs in your dry goods, and those eggs hatch and turn into moths themselves.
If you discover evidence of pantry moths, you need to act quickly. A minor problem can turn into a major one fast, so make sure to take these steps so that the moths don't return.
Pantry moths, or Indian meal moths, are incredibly common. They are known for infesting everything from bags of flour, dried beans, and grains to boxes of cereal, cake mixes, and rice. Nothing is sacred for pantry moths, and they will eat anything that crosses their path.
Pantry moths cause the most damage when they spin a massive amount of silk in your dried goods, and that silk accumulates fecal pellets. The moths also cast their skin and eggshells in food products.
If you have a pantry moth infestation, it isn't because you haven't kept your cupboards clean. Instead, it is most likely that the moths laid eggs in the food at a food-packaging facility or in the bulk bins at the grocery store.
Pantry moths do not bring disease, but they can be extremely difficult to get rid of. Because they become harder to eliminate after completing their life cycle, it is important to get rid of them as soon as you find them.
When you find one pantry moth, chances are there are many more around, and you should assume that they have eaten and reproduced in any open dry goods -- like flour, cereals, and whole grains. Inspect your food for larvae and webs. Pantry moths can chew through paper and plastic, so be sure to look through everything for any evidence of meal moth larvae. If you find infested food, you should toss it, unless you want to eat pantry moths with your next home-cooked meal.
If you have pets, be sure to take a look at their food, too.
When you are throwing out infested items, be sure to take them to the outside trash immediately. Putting them in the indoor trash will spread the problem, not stop it.
Pantry moths might also lay eggs on cans. If you do find affected cans, wipe them down with undiluted vinegar to kill the larvae.
After you have removed everything from your pantry, cleaned every inch of it, and taken out the trash, you have to wait a few days to make sure you have gotten rid of all the larvae and eggs. If you have taken all of these steps and you still see pantry moths, go back and make sure you didn't miss something.
Pantry moths could be in cardboard boxes, behind the paper labels on jars, or inside the pages of your cookbooks. Pantry moths can even get creative and hide in tea bags, your dried candy and nuts, or your child's macaroni art hanging on the fridge. It is important to keep looking until you find where they are hiding.
If after a few days you don't find any more signs of moths, you can start to restock your pantry.
Getting rid of pantry moths requires quite a bit of work, and many times you'll have to throw out a bunch of food. But, since the other option is eating food riddled with insects, getting rid of the moths is well worth your time and effort.