Pest Problems

How to Successfully Get Rid of Pantry Moths

Image source: Tomasz Klejdysz /

Moths seem harmless at first glance, especially if you see only a single one. But together, they could easily cause a destructive pantry infestation. So you have to act quickly as soon as you spot the earliest signs. With this handy guide, the Fantastic Services team explains how to get rid of a moth infestation and prevent the emergence of a new one.

So, if you:

  • Have found yourself in the middle of a pantry moth infestation;
  • Are looking for ways to get rid of moths;
  • Want to know the signs of an infestation to look out for,

Read on! This post will answer your questions.

What attracts pantry moths?

Like most pests, moths come indoors looking for food. They are not attracted to all kinds of food, though, but specifically to cereal, spices, flour, rice and other grain foods. Once they settle in, they can start to reproduce directly in the packages of food they infest.

Moths usually come into your home through open windows and doors, which is why most people recommend using mosquito nets to prevent the problem. They can even come in through infested food. If you buy grain products in bulk, there’s an increased risk of bringing the pest insect into your home.

What do pantry moths look like?

Bear in mind that the UK is home to more than 2500 moth species, varying largely in size, diet and colour decoration (and yet, only 70 species of butterflies). As far as pantry moths are concerned, one of the most common you may encounter is the Indian meal moth.

Image source: Tomasz Klejdysz /

Indian Meal Moth. Bronze in colour, no more than 15 mm in size, usually infests kitchens.

Other common moth species in the UK that infest carpets and clothes and you may encounter are the brown house moth and the common clothes moth. It’s good to recognise them in case of infestation, so you know what you are dealing with. Here they are:

  • The Brown House Moth. Brown in colour, no more than 15mm in size, feeds on wool fabrics, so it can often be found infesting closets and carpets.
  • Common Clothes Moth. Brown in colour, no more than 10 mm in size, is the most common culprit behind holes in your clothes.

Suspect there’s a moth infestation in your house? Consider getting a professional to come over and inspect in detail.

Signs of a moth infestation

  • Pantry moths leave behind damaged food items, there could be holes in the package.
  • Webbing from the larvae could also be visible both inside and outside the package, as well as along the corners of your kitchen cabinets.
  • You could see the larvae itself crawling around, it looks like a tiny white worm.
  • Pantry moths also leave sticky droppings behind that could make products like rice stick together in the package.
  • Chances are if it’s night, the lights are on, and you see something fluttering around the bulbs, it’s most probably an indoor moth. They don’t produce a buzz when flying, but you might hear a silent click if they happen to bump into walls, ceilings or other hard surfaces.

Moths are one of the favourite foods of spiders, and failing to resolve the issue with them on time can result in a spider invasion. If it’s too late, check out our helpful post on how to keep spiders away from your house.

How to get rid of pantry moths

  • Inspect. It’s doubtful that you would see pantry moths fluttering around your kitchen cupboards. However, a sure sign of a moth problem is the webbing and droppings the insects leave behind in food packages. Moth secretions tend to leave a sticky residue that you may notice on cupboard shelves. In addition, you may also sense an unpleasant smell of rotten food. If it’s been a while since the insects have entered your food cupboard, you might even spot caterpillars.
  • Throw away infested food. It’s not healthy to consume anything infested with moths, so better throw every opened food package, especially items that you’ve bought in bulk, such as grains, nuts and rice. Food in cardboard boxes should also be discarded because moths can eat through cardboard. If you’re not sure that an item has been infested, throw it away just in case. Seal everything in a plastic bag and take it out of the house immediately.
  • Use sticky traps. As with the closet, sticky traps can easily catch any remaining adult moths, so you prevent them from laying any more eggs. Place the traps not only in the cupboards but in other places around the kitchen, as well, as the pests might be hiding after your attack on their offspring.
  • Clean the kitchen. Finally, it’s time to clean your kitchen so that you eliminate any leftover eggs that you may have missed to notice. Focus on the pantry, where it is most likely to have food infested by moths. Dip a kitchen sponge in soapy water or a solution, made of vinegar and water, and scrub all the surfaces and shelves. Then, thoroughly vacuum the kitchen. In the end, dispose of the sponge and the vacuum bag.
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How to keep the moth away from the pantry

  • Place all food in the refrigerator. Kitchen cupboards often contain unsealed packaged food that can become an easy target for pantry moths. If possible, keep food like flour, rice, cereal, etc. in the refrigerator. And of course, make sure that you store dry food in airtight containers.
  • Buy smart and store smart. What does this mean, you ask? Buying smart would be buying fewer items so you would have more storing space in the kitchen. And storing smart is a way of organising the food you already have, so it doesn’t take up too much space. Also, keeping uneaten food in airtight containers, plastic bags or foil wrap is always recommended.
  • Control the humidity in the kitchen. Moths adore warm and humid places. Unfortunately, your kitchen often provides that sort of environment. Boiling water for tea, for instance, is enough to raise the moisture level in the air. So, make sure that your kitchen is well-ventilated to keep the moths away.
  • Seal cracks and crevices. Moths are tiny, so they can easily get through cracks and crevices in your pantry. And once inside your food storage unit, they will most certainly lay their eggs in there, too. In order to eliminate the risk of moth infestation, block their entry points right away.
  • Lavender and cedar aroma. You can place a lavender-scented candle in the kitchen. Or just put a lavender or cedar tablet on top of your fridge. You can also place freshly picked lavender in a vase on the table. It’s lavender – it smells nice and keeps moths away.

Are pantry moths harmful?

While pantry moths don’t bite or sting, they can cause serious damage to your stored food products. Because of the moth webbings, droppings and cocoons inside the packaging, the food becomes unfit for human consumption.

If you suspect that your food has been contaminated or you find actual signs of it, you should immediately throw it away. Even small contamination can spoil brand-new packages of food.

What NOT to do when you have moths

Never use pesticides or products for moth treatment without checking their toxic properties first. Untested pesticides can make infestations worse. You can also get sick if you get them on your skin through your clothes, bedding or food. They also negatively affect most pets.

Find a moth exterminator today!

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  • The most common types of moth are the Brown House Moth, Common Clothes Moth and Indian Meal Moth.
  • Look for signs, such as fluttering moths, larvae, webbing and droppings.
  • Kitchen moths can cause serious damage.
  • Keep your home clean, and use sticky traps to get rid of moths.
  • Throw away any infested food, as it’s not safe for human consumption.

Was this post on how to get rid of moths helpful? Have you ever dealt with this pest? Why not share your tips with us in the comments below?

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