Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

Pantry Moth Control

Pests in the pantry make me want to throw a pity party. But I can’t bake a pity party cake because my flour is filled with creepy crawly moths. And these pantry moths are the worst sort of party crashers. A single female can enter your home hidden in the food you purchased at the grocery store. Once the lady moth is inside she has the potential of laying several hundred eggs. Before you can say “surprise!” your pantry is infested with six-legged guests on the wing.

Technically the winged pests in your cupboard are known as Indian meal moths, weevil moths, pantry moths, or, my favorite, North American high-flyers. Whatever you call them they can infest a wide range of foods including whole grains, beans, cornmeal, flour, nuts, cereal, bread, crackers, pasta, rice, dried fruit, and even dry pet food. The moths can gain access to your food by chewing through sealed bags or crawling into jars that lack sealed lids.

Infested food will seem as if it is webbed together. If you see the telltale webs or the moths themselves, the food must be removed from the kitchen immediately and disposed of. If you’re truly paranoid, you can microwave contaminated food for a few minutes or put it in the freezer for a few days. This will ensure the high-flyers never no more fly again. And all other potential food sources should be checked for mothy incursions.

Once they make your home their home, pantry moths can be painfully difficult to evict. They might leave the kitchen and spin cocoons high up on the ceiling where you are unlikely to find them. However, like all moths, they are attracted to light. If you leave you kitchen light on in a darkened house, the moths will be drawn to it. You can then capture and kill them.

Once your home is moth-free, clean the cupboards—deep into the cracks—with soap and water. Larvae are about 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) long and look like worms with five pairs of legs. Take out all cans and jars and wipe them down thoroughly to take out any wormy intruders. And vacuum cracks and crevices just to be sure.

Vigilance is the key to preventing moth infestations. Check out packages at the grocery store before you buy them. If they contain tiny holes they are probably contaminated. If you buy food in bulk, carefully examine the bins at the store to make sure there are no moths in the meal that can make a vegetarian dish into a feast of weevils.