Discovering pantry moths is a fact of life, but they can be very unsettling. But don’t panic, there are ways to handle them. Here are 10 ways to get rid of pantry moths.
1. Know Who You are Dealing With
Before you get rid of pantry moths, it helps to know who you are dealing with. Different with any other moths, the pantry moth is so called because it is attracted to stored food. A pantry moth reproduces by infesting places with plenty of food items. This is because a place with food storage gives it a safe space to lay its eggs and provide their offspring with survival.
There are four stages of life cycle that a pantry moth goes through. Moth eggs are extremely small, while moth larvae is a tiny worm-like creature that eats the food on your pantry and this stage can last up to 3 months. The next stage is cocoon, and at this stage a pantry month hide behind cracks and corners or bury itself under food and cause matted webs and clumps in your food storage. The last stage is adult moth, a winged insect that flies all around your house. The adult moth cannot eat, like light and they fly around to find a mate so they can reproduce.
Because of the incredibly small sizes of pantry moths in the previous stages, you are likely to not be able to notice them until they have become an adult and is flying around your home. If you see the adult moth, by this stage, it is likely that your food storage has already been infested.
2. Check Everything That Is in Your Pantry
Now that you know who you are dealing with, it is time to identify whether your pantry has been infested. As you recall earlier, moth larvae and cocoon left their traces. They eat a lot and cause webs and clumps. Larvae can be found in the food packing or on the food packaging. When the moth eggs started to hatch, the larvae will spin its webs in the infested food. Another opportunity to spot them is when they are looking for a dark cracks to turn into an adult moth. They will often move about, hanging from walls, or the ceiling. Cocoons can be found on top or in the corner of cabinets. An adult moth can be found around your kitchen, flying around light.
Food that are often infested by pantry moths include grain-based products, such as flour, cereal, pasta, baking mixes, nuts, and sweets. But, edges of cans and cabinets, spice jars, unopened packages, sealed canisters, and food for pets also need to be checked. Once you found the items that have been infested, the best way would be to throw them out of the way. Though they are not known to spread diseases, eating larvae or cocoon might not be your idea of a great meal.
3. Empty Your Pantry
Once you get rid of the infested food and packages, you need to clear out the area immediately and completely. This means, you need to get out every jar, can, box, bag, and bottle. Clearing out the area also means getting rid of any dry goods with open packaging. If you want to be thorough – which you should – you should also remove the shelves in the infested area.
4. Clean Properly
After clearing out the area immediately, comes the hardest part on how to get rid of pantry moths – clean your pantry properly to defend it against pantry moths.
To properly clean the affected area, you need to prepare vacuum cleaner, vinegar, soap, hot/warm water, and scrub brush.
First, wash the area with a mix of vinegar and warm water. Add also peppermint oil (if possible only) into the mix. Finish by mopping the floor using the formula. Bleach also your mop head just to be safe.
If you want to put the jars that you have put there in the same area, you need to wash the jars under hot, soapy water with a scrub brush. Scrub them out thoroughly.
To ensure that you can really get rid of pantry moths, you can also scrub all surfaces of the pantry with white vinegar. It sanitizes your pantry and deter the moths from coming back. To strengthen the effect, you can also use certain essential oils such as peppermint oil, eucalyptus, and tea tree oils. Place a few drops to a spray bottle containing vinegar, and spritz the surfaces before scrubbing them.
After cleaning them, you need to dry everything thoroughly. Use clean dish towels or paper towels. One thing to know is that pantry moths like moisture. Keeping things dry is an important aspect of how you can get rid of pantry moths.
Next, vacuum every inch that you can reach. Use a vacuum cleaner with a hose and an angular nozzle attachment to clean the walls, baseboard, and corners of the pantry or cupboard. Focus on areas with seen webbing, larvae, and adult moths, but you need to vacuum the entire area. Empty the vacuum bag, tie it off in a garbage bag, and make sure you take it outside the house immediately. Better still, place the bags in an area that does not share a wall with your house.
Aside from manual cleaning, you can also do another way to get rid of pantry moths. One of the recommended ways is to set up glue traps. Glue traps offer pheromone scent that can attract pantry moth. Attach the non-adhesive side of a glue trap to the inside wall of the pantry or cabinet using a double stick tape. Use as many glue trap as you see fit. Male moths will be attracted to the pheromone in the item, get stuck, and die. This is an effective way to reduce the reproduction rate of pantry moths. After you successfully caught the male moth, you need to change them out. The glue trap can last from four to six weeks.
Last but not least, use insecticides. Spray them for one second at each location where you have seen pantry moths, or any location they might be able to hide. If the insecticide leaves a white residue, you need to remove it with a wet dish towel or sponge.
5. Be Patient Before Stocking Your Pantry Again
Before stocking the pantry again, you need to be patient. Do not immediately put the food storage in the previously affected area. Wait a few weeks to see whether you have successfully get rid of the pantry moths. Place your grain and nut products in the freezer until you are confident that you have solved the problem. It helps to prevent further contamination. If you need to store new groceries, store them in a different spot with a good distance from the pantry and affected area. When it comes to getting rid of pantry moths, it pays to be patient. This is better for you than having to regularly go through the hassle of cleaning out the area and throwing out food storage.
6. Think About Ways to Prevent Them
Once you successfully get rid of pantry moths, it does not mean that you will not find them coming back. So it is crucial that you think about ways to prevent them. Find how they can get through your homes and food storage and then do what is required to stop them before it gets to that stage.
Moths enter homes through open doors and windows, openings around plumbing lines, or cables. Another common ways for a pantry moth to enter your home is by stowing inside the packaging of food from a store or warehouse.
As such, you need to inspect all food that you buy before putting them into your homes’ cabinets, especially when you want to purchase flour, cereals, bread, or pet food. Look for signs of moths such as webbing in the tighter areas of the packaging, clumps, small holes, etc. Leave any product that shows that signs. Choose carefully all the products you bring from the grocery stores and markets. If you found them, notify and warn the store that you found it.
Once you have done all the required steps above to prevent pantry moths from coming back, remember to clean up food messes in the pantry as soon as they happen. You also need to clean your pantry with a thorough scrub a number of times in a year. This will reduce the likeliness of an infestation to happen. You can also find out quicker if there are any problems with pantry moths.
The same thing should also be applied to grocery stockpile in your house. Inspect it regularly to track any potential pantry moth problems so you can get rid of pantry moths before it gets bad.
7. Re-evaluate How You Organize Your Pantry
After you plan some ways to prevent pantry moths from coming back, it is time to re-evaluate how you organize your pantry and food storage system.
Make sure to recheck again all the food you buy. Store all foods in tightly sealed containers to prevent moths from spreading, if you happened to already bought something that had been contaminated. When the food that contains moth eggs are kept in a tight sealing container, they will not be able to hatch. In that case, you will only have that one jar of food to throw out.
Keep areas that may collect crumbs such as toasters, clean. And consider to put flour, baking mixes, oatmeal and nuts in the freezer for a week or a few weeks before moving it to pantry areas. Because, it will kill any undetected larvae that might be present in the food from the store.
Another way to prevent moths from coming is to use leaves such as bay leaves, lavender, cedar, and peppermint. These leaves are known to repel pantry moths and able to help you to get rid of pantry moths. You just need to fill sachets with one of these leaves and tuck them inside the pantry as a deterrent.
Also, think carefully about the amount of food you buy. It helps to just buy only in small quantities, in the amount that you think you can use within a few weeks.
Always clean unopened jars and cans thoroughly because it may have plenty of bacteria in the warehouse. It also helps to get rid of pantry moth eggs.
8. Check Your Pantry Thoroughly Periodically
Again, this step cannot be understated. You need to inspect your pantries regularly. When it comes to getting rid of pantry moths, you need to act quickly to stop them from spreading. It is always easier to clean a single part or an isolated item in the pantry than to clean every part and corner of the pantry with food inside.
9. If You Still See Pantry Moths, Do This
If you still see pantry moths, do these several steps. First, throw away any unopened food packages that are past their expiration dates. Next, look for spots that you may have missed in the previous cleaning activity. Check whether there are any cardboard boxes that they might be living in and inspect any sealed containers that you perhaps have missed.
If you keep any cookbooks inside, they might also be found inside the pages. If you have candy bars and jars, they might be inside the paper labels of the candies. The same thing should be applied as well to tea bags, dried fruits, and nuts.
Inspect thoroughly all food items, especially ones that you haven’t used in a while. This includes any items outside of food items stocked in the pantry.
10. Remember This to Get Rid of Pantry Moths
When it comes to pantry moth control, a few things are important to keep in mind: prevent it to come to your pantry by doing inspection thoroughly since the moment you are in groceries, check thoroughly every container before you put them in the pantry, take their food away by making sure that your food items are stored impeccably in ways that do not allow those pantry moths to access it, and if you miss them in the previous stages of life, catch the adult males lurking in the pantry with glue trap to stop them from fertilizing the female moths’ eggs and reproduce freely in your pantry.
By applying those 10 ways, hopefully you can and will get rid of pantry moths in your home.