How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths – Kitchen Moths – Grain Moths

by Mire

How To Get Rid Of Pantry Moths – Kitchen Moths – Grain Moths?

You see little grey moths in your kitchen, and you see weevils in your flour bin… You need to react rather quickly and treat for pantry moths also known as kitchen moths or grain moths.
Just like cockroaches, pantry moths have the annoying habit to recur even after we thought we had cleaned everything. Summer is the time that they find a way into our homes, then they take the whole winter to create a warm, comfortable hideaway for themselves… Right there in your pantry or cabinets. Take heart it is easier to get rid of pantry moths than to get rid of cockroaches, and you can do it with natural methods that will not harm you, or your family.

Identifying pantry moths

If you have never dealt with these insects before, you might miss the early signs of their presence as they can easily go unnoticed. Here are the signs of flour moths that you should look for:

  • pantry mothThe most obvious and often the sign that is the last one we notice is the presence of small grey moths flying in the house.
  • Thin threads, spider web-like in your foods, most notably flour, sugar, rice…
  • Small cocoons (mostly empty) in paper fold of boxes or bagged groceries, flour, cereals…
  • You might see a small white maggot (about  12mm) on a wall near the ceiling, or in a cupboard.

Aside from the flying moth in the kitchen all these signs are very discreet and can escape the untrained eye, but you should take action as soon as you notice one of these signs.

You are more likely to have grain moths if you eat organic foods, and you will have to be more vigilant, as some of these products are already infected when you bring them home. These annoying bugs like us prefer organic foods! But while it is called grain moth you should not underestimate its affinity for all types of food.

What can you do to treat moths in the pantry?
  • Without any hesitation and as quickly as possible throw away, clean, and store properly your foods.
  • Before even considering any form of insecticide the best thing to do to get rid of pantry moths is to cut their food supply. Plan on one day when you can clean ALL your kitchen cabinets, including those where you store dishes. Don’t forget drawers, etc… Clean thoroughly the cupboards with water and vinegar, or water and bleach, using a brush that will reach in the corners and all joints, every nook and cranny.
  • As you empty cabinet inspect each item (no exception), open boxes, jars, checks the tops and bottoms of can goods, look inside the wrapping paper of each wrapped item, etc…
  • Kitchen moths are just as happy with sugar as they are with flour, and they lay eggs anywhere there is a fold, a crease, a pleat or furrow… Look carefully for cocoons, or small maggots that could look like a grain of rice. Ideally you should throw everything, that is not canned, away.
  • Buy airtight canisters with a rubber seal for storing sugar, beans, flour… Get in the habit of cleaning your shelves regularly with water and vinegar or with soapy water.
  • Clean all the baseboards and moulding including crown moldings, or the corners where the walls meet the ceiling. Clean behind kitchen furniture as each dropped grain is enough to bring the enemy back.

If you are very attentive to all these details and really have inspected every item before putting it back (including dishes) it should be enough to eradicate the infestation of grain moths.

Here are some tips to keep them away after you have cleaned everything or before you get an invasion of pantry moths.

natural moth prevention

partially done orange

This natural method was probably used by your grand-mother as it was by mine. They knew that what works naturally on clothes moths works also to keep food moths away. Stick cloves in an orange as on this image and place it in the cabinets. (You have to insert enough cloves so that the orange will dry without rotting). Or you might hang sprigs of rosemary or mint in the cabinets. The smell is pleasant to human but moths hate it and will find another place to live.

Another rather revolutionary method would be to bring in trichogramma, a microscopic insect that eat moth eggs exclusively and dies when it cannot find anymore. Nobody will ever know but you! I have not tried this more scientific approach but I am told (by my friend an Entomologist at KState) that it would be very effective.

I have not tried the moth traps sold in hardware stores or online. They do work, I am told, by attracting the males into the trap where they remain glued and die. This way the females cannot reproduce and eventually you will no longer see moths. It seems to me that this is a double edge sword as it does kill what it traps but it also attracts the insects to come in your home. For a dozen captured male there might be one who just had the time to play around with the “ladies” before dying. I personally would avoid this method. I have not tried the moth traps sold in hardware stores or online. They do work, I am told, by attracting the males into the trap where they remain glued and die. This way the females cannot reproduce and eventually you will no longer see moths. It seems to me that this is a double edge sword as it does kill what it traps but it also attracts the insects to come in your home. For a dozen captured male there might be one who just had the time to play around with the “ladies” before dying.

I personally would avoid this method!

I have not tried the moth traps sold in hardware stores or online. They do work, I am told, by attracting the males into the trap where they remain glued and die. This way the females cannot reproduce and eventually you will no longer see moths. It seems to me that this is a double edge sword as it does kill what it traps but it also attracts the insects to come in your home. For a dozen captured male there might be one who just had the time to play around with the “ladies” before dying. I personally would avoid this method.

Lastly when all else has failed and the little grey moths come back to taunt you, you can have recourse to a fogger. Not very ecologic but it will clear your home of all bugs listed on the product you buy.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia Davis December 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for your information on moths! Do you have suggestions for cleaning dishes which were removed from a moth-filled kitchen cabinet?

Thank you!

Reply

Mire February 13, 2012 at 3:21 am

Yes I do, wash them in a dishwasher if you have one. If not use very hot water and dish-soap and you will be fine. If you are really worried boil the dishes in hot water but I probably would not bother with that.

Reply

Patricia Davis December 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm

What I read seemed to cover a variety of areas in one page. Logical, To-The-Point and Friendly.
Thank you!

Reply

Virginia Dambreville November 2, 2012 at 6:26 am

Do partry moths travel through out the how? For example, the bathroom or bedroom.

Virginia

Reply

Mire November 27, 2012 at 2:05 am

Yes pantry moths can move from room to room, however they mostly stay where food is available.

Reply

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