How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths Naturally and Keep Them Away for Good

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Tired of finding pantry moths? Here’s how they’re getting into your house, the tricky places they’re hiding, and natural ways to get rid of them for good. 

Closeup of a little brown pantry moth on a woven background

What Are Pantry Moths?

Also known as “Indian meal moths,” these small gray, tan, or brown flying nuisances are one of the most common household pests in the U.S. You may have seen moths flying around in your kitchen or found them in your food, or maybe even your bedroom. One of the most telltale signs of a pantry moth infestation is the silky webs they leave on food packaging and nearby areas.

Signs of Pantry Moths

Most people don’t realize is that pantry moth larvae can actually chew through food packaging. They can get inside plastic wrappers and paper boxes and will weave webs in your food items. You may find bits of cereals or flours clumped together. Their eggs sometimes leave a strange smell. You may notice an odd smell in foods they’ve infested, but not necessarily. The larvae may or may not still be present.

Also, their larvae crawl into cracks and holes. You may discover dusty-looking webs in crevices around your cupboards, behind light or electric switch panels, even in the gaps between your cupboard and wall. Then, you’ll find little brown moths flying around your house. That’s because, despite their name, pantry moths do not always remain in the kitchen. They’ll breed wherever they can find shelter.

Where Do They Come From?

While you may need to clean your pantry to get rid of them, your housekeeping isn’t to blame for pantry moths. Most of the time, they get into your house because they’re already inside dry food’s packaging or have built a cocoon on cans or jars. Sometimes, they might fly into your home through gaps in window screens or open doors, then stay because they’ve found food.

Pantry Moth Life Cycle

An adult female pantry moth can lay 300-400 eggs at one time. The eggs of the pantry moth hatch in roughly one week. Then it enters the larval stage, during which it feeds and gains strength for its future breeding efforts. Pantry moth larvae are often mistaken for worms or even weevils — a type of beetle that also likes flours and grains. This is when they’re at their most destructive, chewing through food packaging and creeping into crevices to find shelter.

The pupal stage begins once the pantry moth larva gathers enough energy. Then it creates a cocoon where it will remain until it’s ready to hatch as an adult and begin the search for a place to lay its own eggs. Their full life cycle can run from as short as 30 days to as long as 300 — it all depends on the availability of food sources, breeding conditions, and temperatures. The warmer the environment, the shorter their lifespan.

Are Pantry Moths Harmful?

The good news is that pantry moths, or Indian meal moths, are not harmful in any stage of their life cycle. They do not bite humans, and they do not carry disease. Eating food that’s infested with these moths or their eggs and larvae won’t transmit any sickness, but if you’re squeamish, it may make your stomach turn knowing you have.

The real reason to kill pantry moths and keep them out of your house is that they’re unsightly, and they can make some food items smell “off.” So, if you’re tired of seeing moths flying around your kitchen and cupboards or finding signs of them in your food, it’s time to get serious about getting rid of them.

Steps to Get Rid of Pantry Moths Naturally

For mild infestations, cleaning the pantry thoroughly and transferring food to new containers may do the trick. If you’ve been seeing dozens of pantry moths or finding signs of them elsewhere in your home, the process will take more effort.

Freeze Dry Goods

Dry goods are foods that don’t come in cans or jars. This includes foods sold in plastic packaging or boxes with or without plastic inner liners. Since pantry moth larvae can eat through paper or plastic, any food that’s not in a can or jar is a potential food source and breeding ground for them. This includes dry goods that haven’t even been opened. Dry goods that provide a food source and breeding ground for pantry moths include:

  • Flours and flour cereal of any kind
  • Dried fruit
  • Bulk grains
  • Nuts, seeds, cereals
  • Crackers, chips, bread
  • Sugars, baking powder, or baking soda
  • Coffee or tea
  • Pet food, including birdseed
  • Other food items in boxes or bags

You can freeze opened dry goods for 2-3 days to kill pantry moth larvae or eggs. Freezing does not remove these pests, however, so you need to decide if you’re okay with eating dead ones or not. If that makes you squeamish, skip the freezing and discard opened items instead.

Clean the Pantry Thoroughly

Cleaning to get rid of a pantry moth infestation involves much more than simply wiping shelves. Keep in mind that larvae seek out even tiny crevices to make their cocoons in. Skipping steps won’t eliminate them all, and you’ll wind up having to do it repeatedly.

  1. Take everything out of your pantry. Keep pulling things out until the cupboards, drawers, shelves, wall, and floor are all bare.
  2. Remove shelves from supports, including the pegs that hold shelves in place. Larvae love to breed in those holes. If your pantry has drawers, pull them out completely and set them to one side.
  3. Pull up shelf liners or contact paper you’ve laid on the shelves. Gaps between shelves and liners are a favorite spot for pantry moth cocoons.
  4. Vacuum everything, including the doors and walls of your cupboards. If you removed drawers, vacuum the space where they go along with the slides they rest on. Clean the drawers, inside and out and their underside, too.
  5. Wash all surfaces with hot soapy water then wipe them down with a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and warm water to kill off remaining eggs. Use a cotton swab or toothbrush to clean crevices and gaps in the cupboard, including the holes where the shelf-support pegs go. Many readers have reported continued problems with pantry moths despite cleaning until they discovered cocoons in these holes. Don’t skip them.
  6. Empty your vacuum immediately to get rid of any pantry moth eggs or larvae you just got with it. Then clean your vacuum thoroughly so they don’t breed in it, too.
  7. After you’ve discarded the infested food and emptied your vacuum, seal the trash bag tightly and put it in a second trash bag. Seal this and take the entire thing outside, then wash your kitchen trash can.

Caulk or Seal These Spots

For severe pantry moth problems — or if cleaning alone hasn’t put an end to it — you need to look for other gaps and crevices where they may be hiding. Use your vacuum’s crevice attachment to clean these areas. Seal gaps or cracks with caulk. Readers have reported finding cocoons and moths in the space between cupboards and walls and joinery gaps in the cupboards. Other spots to check are behind your appliances and behind electric outlet covers and light switch plates.

Change Your Food Storage

Remember, anything not in a bottle or can is a potential food source and breeding ground for pantry moths now or in the future. So, transfer all of your dried goods to airtight containers to keep out pests. Good options include Tupperware and some Rubbermaid products. (I use these Oxo Containers.*) If you prefer glass jars, look for ones with air-tight hermetic seals. Avoid screw-on caps since pantry moth cocoons have even been found in the tight space between the jar and lid.

Inspect Nearby Rooms

If your pantry moth infestation has been going on for a while, the problem has probably spread. Readers have reported finding them in nearby closets and adjoining rooms. Sometimes, you may even find pantry moths in bedrooms and bedroom closets. Look particularly where ceilings and walls meet at a right angle and around door frames and window trim, which all provide a convenient spot for pupae to build cocoons. A strong flashlight can help you spot them in darker areas.

If you find them elsewhere in your home, use your vacuum to clean them away, then spray and immediately wipe the area with a 50-50 vinegar and water mix to remove any eggs. (Do not use vinegar on natural stone surfaces.) Empty and clean your vacuum immediately afterward.

Commercial Pantry Moth Traps and Solutions

Cleaning your pantry and food packaging gets rid of pantry moth larvae and eggs. You need to combine this with killing adult moths before they have a chance to lay eggs that start the 30-300 day life cycle again. The things below help get rid of adult pantry moths in your home. (These are Amazon affiliate links to highly-rated pantry moth traps and preventatives.)

How To Prevent Pantry Moths

Pantry moths don’t just appear out of thin air. The majority of the time, we bring them into the house with our groceries. Taking the time to do the following tasks can keep pantry moths from getting into your home.

When you get home from shopping, transfer packaged dry goods to air-tight containers, or freeze any dry good items for three days before putting them on your shelves. Discard empty packaging and immediately double-bag your trash, then take it outside. Then, wipe all canned and bottled goods with a damp cloth and inspect around lids for signs of pantry moth cocoons. Use a scrub brush and soapy water to get rid of any you see before putting products on your pantry shelves.

In the pantry, skip the use of adhesive shelf liner or contact paper. Pantry moths and other household pests frequently build cocoons or lay eggs where the corners and edges lift over time. But do consider scattering fresh or dry bay leaves as a deterrent. Pantry moths and some other household pests don’t like the scent of bay leaves, so they’ll stay away. You can also add a few drops of bay leaf essential oil (Laurel Nobilis) to homemade cleaners. Here is a homemade all-purpose spray recipe.

Finally, be vigilant so you can deal with any pantry moths before they take over. Tidy your pantry weekly and inspect your shelves often. Spotting early signs of a moth infestation gives you a chance to deal with it before it gets out of control.

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88 Comments

  1. I emptied my pantry, vacuumed and wiped the shelves and walls down with hot soapy water but haven’t yet sprayed with the 50/50 solution. I have opened my pantry twice and am still seeing moths on the ceiling. Does this mean I haven’t gotten all the cocoons yet? I have a bad feeling there are cocoons in small gaps behind my shelves that I can’t see.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yes, it probably means there are moth larvae in a box of food or behind the shelves. A vacuum will get the latter out. Good luck!

    2. Sandy Briggs says:

      We have thrown out, dumped out and pretty much done all the suggestions except burn them out. We even painted and siliconed the shelves. I’m at a loss what to do and my frustration is about to get the best of me. HELP what to do now that they have started to return. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I just want them gone.

    3. Yes I am having the same problem for the second time and I think it’s to do with a gap between the back of pantry cupboard and wall

    4. Sharon Baldwin says:

      I too have recently had problems with Almond moths. I found them in my flour & infesting all my other grains in my lazy Susan. I tried everything & nothing worked. I finally bought diatomaceous earth ( not the one for swimming pools). I threw this everywhere with a dry paint brush. And I mean everywhere! ( wear a mask) I then put out Pheromone traps & closed the cabinet. This looks to be eliminating the larvae & the traps are catching any moths that hatch. Not seeing anything for awhile. Just leaving as is to be sure for awhile.
      Hope this can help someone else!

  2. Darillyn Lamb Starr says:

    I had to throw away hundreds of dollars worth of food, last year, which I absolutely HATE to do! I have shelves in my garage that I was keeping cans on, but also some closed things, like boxes of oatmeal. They were still sealed, so I didn’t think there was any way the moths could get into them. I was wrong. I went through everything and brought everything I thought was safe, inside. This resulted in them getting into everything in the kitchen, as there were obviously eggs in things I thought were safe. I eventually realized that the moths can lay their eggs in anything cardboard, if there is only one layer. They don’t need to get inside the container to lay eggs in it. I started keeping everything either in plastic ice cream containers with tight fitting lids, canning jars, or in plastic bags, over the boxes. I also cleaned every crack and crevice in my kitchen. For a while, there were moths flying in my kitchen. I was diligent with a fly swatter and eventually got them under control. I kill anything that even looks like it might be a meal moth. I haven’t found any in food in a long time, but I will keep doing like I have been, to protect against any future infestations.

    1. I’ve been fighting with meal moths for over a year and they are not getting any better. I’ve used 2 exterminators and different chemicals cedar oil seem to work the best but I am inundated again With the moths. The only items I have in my kitchen are jars or bottles that have been washed. Worst area is above my microwave in the cabinet which has been empty for months and months. I don’t know what to do anymore. I have traps throughout the house and I keep catching numerous moths but unfortunately they only catch the males I finally bought a bunch of Laurel Bay leaves and have them in bowls throughout the house. I keep purchasing new traps when my old ones are too full. I am considering getting a handyman to come and remove the microwave and the vent above it. I would love any other suggestions you might have. The moths are now in my dining room, living room guest bedroom and in the kitchen on top of my oven , refrigerator and microwave oven cabinet are the worst areas. They also show up in other areas sometimes inside the cabinet where they’re only dishes. Any suggestions you have would be welcome. Thank you. I’ve also plac d cedar blocks in the kitchen cabinets and not sure if they are helping.

    2. Anita luna says:

      I have been dealing with the same problem started last spring so did a good spring cleaning. Now for this past few days I’ve cleaned out closet wash room kitchen cabinets through out all stuff that even though it may have them but this time I’m going yo put spices in freezer the few I did keep will use the peppermint and bay leaves ? and lots of prayers

  3. I open box that have even been open yet and there are moths. Even boxes with plastic bags in them sealed and they will have moths. I just threw out 4 boxes of rice, I had to get rid of all my boxes of cereal and biscuit mix. UGH! darn moths, itty bitty light brown moths thru out my house and in my cabinets….

    1. Robyn Heff says:

      I have the moths in bedroom,bathroom and living r oom.

  4. For Ellen who seems to have been struggling with moths for awhile, they can also lay eggs / live on / under contact paper and any sort of cardboard or paper product. They are annoying little buggers, if you can figure out how to pull the shelves out and get behind them you might have a better chance of eradicating them.

    1. I don’t know if they’re anything like roaches (I’ve dealt with roaches living in California and am currently fighting an infestation in my damn car after using it to haul some garbage to the dump, fml) but I’d wonder if they’re in the back of the fridge somewhere. I don’t envy you, they sound as bad as roaches…they fly?

  5. Icelandic Ally in NJ says:

    Been dealing with this annoying pest for about a month, swatting about 50 a day in one corner of my kitchen. We just moved in and seems like we brought it home when we went shopping for catfood. I have found the main source (catfood) bit have also thrown out anything that MIGHT be infested). I wiped everthing down with vinegar/water mix with eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and tea tree oil in it. Also bought pheromone traps, cedar mothballs and am dying from the stench in here myself. I haven’t seen larvae for a couple of days and only a few months that I hunt down and swat with a string of cursewords in about 5 different languages that could make a sailor blush ( I know it doesn’t help but sure makes me fe el better).

    My question, how long until I can put the dishes back in the cupboard? I washed EVERTHING (thank goodness for my dishwasher )

    Stay strong my fellow mothfighters!!!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You can put the dishes back in the cupboard right away after cleaning the cupboards and dishes. Put everything else, like cat food and other dry goods, in plastic bags or airtight containers before returning them to the cupboard, too. That makes it easy to figure out where they’ve laid eggs: you’ll find dead moths in that particular container.

  6. CONCERNING PANTRY MOTHS: i HAVE KEPT LITTLE BAGS OF BAY LEAVES IN MY CUPBOARDS FOR YEARS – THAT CURES THE PROBLEM.

  7. I found them in a cabinet..there wasnt alot really. I tossed everything! Should i be concerned anout the other cabinets? I havent noticed any in the others, but am paranoid. Gross

    1. Katie Berry says:

      If you haven’t seen any since purging that cabinet you’re probably fine. If you do notice more, then I’d go through with purging and cleaning the other cabinets, too, Mandy. But I hope you don’t have to!

    2. I’ve not seen a moth in weeks. YAY! After “purging” my pantry to the bare walls including removing the despised wire shelves, is there any treatment i.e. an insect repellent that I can use prior to installation of my new pantry shelving system?

    3. Katie Berry says:

      I just make a point to add peppermint oil to my homemade cleaning mixes since that goes a long way to deter most pests. You can also leave bay leaves on the shelves.

    4. Fred Eversole says:

      We find the moths all over the house, not just next to their food source. We are grinding them down, but it is a real chore.

  8. Omg these are disgusting! Few weeks ago I saw one flying moth, didn’t understand where it came from, didn’t know anything about them, but once in a week start finding worm kind of creature on kitchen sealing… after getting information in internet, found the source, it was in loose tea packet! Throwed out all opened packets of food, everything. Cleaned. And today out of nowhere find one learwe… don’t know what to do anymore. All shelves are cleaned. Can’t see any more worms or moths. I hate them so much!!! 🙁 what else can I do? Ordered some moth trap so waiting for it to come.

    1. Daiva, the same thing happened to me! My in-laws have them BAD, and we sometimes take food from their place. Since my short-lived infestation, I’ve gotten really picky about anything I take from them, and immediately switch it to another container or wash it. Anything buggy in my house gives me the creeps, so I threw out anything I wasn´t totally sure of, and froze anything that I thought might be okay for about 2 weeks. I scrubbed down my entire kitchen (even the ceiling!) and then vinegared it and put some bay leaves in the cupboard, as suggested above. Luckily, my kitchen is small, so I can’t keep a lot of excess food. I now store everything in plastic containers with lids. It’s been a year and I haven´t seen any more, but I’m still paranoid that they’ll come back!

  9. Do you use dry bay leaves? Do they sell fresh bay leaves in the grocery store?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I use dry bay leaves, yes. You can sometimes find fresh bay leaves in the grocery store. Fresh are no better than dry for this purpose, though.

    2. Patricia Pender says:

      I bought some dry bay leaves for my cabinets due to those nasty moths. Just wondering, when I sniffed bay leaves, I couldn’t detect much of any smell. I’m thinking maybe the moths could smell them better than a human. You think maybe I should buy a better brand of bay leaves? Thanks, especially since this moth break-out is driving me crazy.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      If you don’t smell a noticeable scent then, yes, they’re old and should be replaced.

  10. Thought I’d taken care of the pantry moths last summer. Nope. Just saw one of the little buggers on the kitchen ceiling! ACK! I can only blame myself-was not perfectly scrupulous in storage of newly purchased things like-brown sugar and did not have the white sugar in a proper jar. Yes, I got lazy. Not looking forward to cleaning out everything and doing this all over again-but, since I didn’t learn the lessons the first time-guess this will keep me on point from now on. Like the idea of wiping down the jars with anti-septic cloths. Hope others will learn (as I will) from my mistakes, and do not let your guard down with these bugs-they do not go away. Ever.

  11. We had an infestation last year when i went out of town for 3 weeks and did not have on air conditioning in August. When I got back, i saw many of the worm crawling up my wasll. They do not appear in my pantry anymore because we cleaned it and have not put food in there. But, they would show up in traps in every area of our house.
    We were down to maybe 2 every couple nights flying around (we killed those) and were hoping for the best. Now it is spring and we killed one last night and one 2 nights ago. We have looked everywhere and have cleaned all rooms and closets. We can not figure out where they are gettinf food from.
    Will chemicals work to kill them? If we put bay leaves out, everywhere in the house…will that help?

  12. Michael Wilson says:

    The vacuum cleaner is a quick and easy way to get any moths or cocoons you find. If you’re skilled, you can even catch the buggers with the vacuum cleaner when they’re flying around! (Make it a game!) The wand attachment is particularly useful for capturing them up near the ceiling, and for getting into those hard-to-reach corners. I go on a vacuum hunt about four times a day, and we’re down from many dozens of them flying around to seeing maybe one or two per day, or some days none. Due to the size of our pantry and the amount of stuff in it, we’re sort of trying a piece-meal approach to keeping them under control until we reach the point where I’ll be ripping out all the shelving in the pantry and basically remodeling it. At that point is when it’ll be convenient to take the more intensive (and more effective) steps. But until then, the vacuum cleaner is quite useful and effective.

  13. Thanks for the article – have been dealing with these pesky things and am taking the over reaction approach and followed all your advice plus even sprinkled diatomaceous earth in nooks and crannies of pantry to ensure death of these things. I am also wiping down EVERYTHING that will be going back into area and even delaying and rearranging zones in kitchen.
    But to my questions — I have found they like the bedroom closet directly across from kitchen area (small house) and am concerned about them being in clothing or having little nest thingys in there!! Has anyone had any experience with this at all or come across this? IF so, any suggestions other than obviously laundrying everything in site? Any help is appreciated!

  14. We had infestation of pantry moths -started with bird seed stored in our garage but some got into our house. Cleaned everything- found eggs on chamois and leaf bags! Found that hanging those sticky fly paper rolls helped better than the pricier traps.

  15. FERNANDO VELAZQUEZ says:

    I have spent the entire summer trying to get rid of indian meal moths in my basement boiler room. This pest has gotten the better of me and I feel like they are laughing at my futile attempts to get rid of them. I have used over 50 or so of those pheremone traps only to see how badly they have infested the basement. Do they eat wood because there is no food source available and I have only seen them there. Please someone help I’m losing my mind.

  16. Deborah Denny says:

    Thanks for this thorough and helpful posting! I’ve been researching pantry pests all day, after finding larvae in my spaghetti. Here’s what I’m still confused about – to keep the problem gone once I solve it, I’m supposed to freeze items from the store before putting them in the pantry. Ok, rice, spaghetti, cereal… but sugar (?)… tea? cookies? crackers? spices in original plastic containers? I can’t find a list and unfortunately “dry goods” is too vague for my clueless brain 🙂 Thanks for any advice!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re right, it is an imprecise term, isn’t it? My general rule is to freeze anything that only has a paper wrapping: flour, white sugar, dry pasta, oats, sometimes rice. If it’s sold in airtight plastic bags within a box — cereal, cookies, crackers — it probably hasn’t attracted moths so it’s safe to skip freezing. Tea has tannins which repel moths, anyway, so I don’t bother with that. I hope that helps to clarify!

  17. We battled these buggers for 3 long years. Took all the advice: cleaned, threw out food, swept daily, kept NO food in our cupboards, even caulked around all the cabinets. They would disappear for a few months, and then come back. We finally laid plastic in our kitchen and took all of our cupboards off the wall. Guess where they were hiding? Took them all outside, scrubbed them with a wire brush, bleached them and let them dry in the sunlight. Hung them back up and we have been moth free for over 1 year now. My guess is that they were actually breaking through the caulk every few months, after making us think they were gone, but finally pulling the cupboards off the wall let us find and get rid of the real nest.

  18. Tim Fitzgerald says:

    The problem that people do not realize is that these things string their webs in all adjoining areas IE other rooms, hallways etc…. They especially seem to love anything that makes a right angle. Take a high powered flashlight and scan along the ceiling line, door tops, windows of all areas near your kitchen. You will see the little webs as well as their eggs that look like little white dots. If you DO NOT do this…, all of your cleaning will be in vein as they will continue to reproduce. I basically wiped down all walls where they adjoin the ceiling with 75/25 vinegar solution in addition to everything everyone has already mentioned

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Excellent advice, Tim.

  19. I am putting everything outside in backyard while it’s cold & completely cleaning pantry! I just cleaned out Cabinet sprinkled bay leaves put spaghetti into plastic containers.

    1. I find consolation in that someone else is spending there days the same way as me.

  20. Sandra P Chiles says:

    I am handicapped and cannot stand for long, cannot get on ladders and in general my housekeeping has gone to pot since I got this cancer 4 years ago. We had the moths, seemed to get rid of them with some traps, but I know all my shelves are not clean and haven’t been for awhile. I have hired housekeeping a few times a year but cannot afford much of that. Here in the Dallas area cleaning services are real expensive. So just today, I opened my pantry in the utility room and I see 50-75 moths around a cracker box. Dumped the box quickly into a plastic trash bag, sealed it and out it went but I am left with MANY visible adult moths. OH me, I just don’t have the energy to do all the cleaning involved, and that is just one pantry, not talking about my kitchen, all those shelves and the rest of the house. Feeling overwhelmed.

  21. Oh boy! I had NO IDEA what these things were… UNTIL I GOT THEM LAST NOVEMBER! I’m practically insane now, because of those disgusting creatures ????. I wish I would’ve read these articles at first. I now have them ALL OVER the house & garage. I’ve did practically everything listed except the peppermint oil & bay leaves. They’ve taken to the main bathroom too…in ALL stages, so I’m not sure where they’re coming from now. I’d like to burn the house down & start over…that’s how bad it is. Any help or suggestions?

  22. Mitzi Pederson says:

    Ok just moved into the house and pantry moths are not bad, but I need to rid them now. So you are saying wash all shelf’s and walls with soapy hot water with peppermint in the vinegar 50 and water 50 then wash down all cans, bags, plastic containers etc. I just bought groceries, but have not opened anything as of now so can I wipe all down and be ok? I have chips, plastic bags of sealed rice and boxes of rice in sealed boxes. I have sprayed witha potent bug spray and killed 4 moths and a larvae. I do not think I am invested with them, but need to stop them now!!! Then do I put out bay leaves?
    Thank you,
    Frustrated!!!

  23. Also, I can see them in the crevaces of the roof above the pantry, does that mean they are likely to be coming from the pantry? So frustrating, I have thoroughly cleaned and thrown out open items so many times but they keep coming back, these things are relentless!!!

  24. Jim Jennings says:

    I and my neighbours have been battling them for years so thanks for all the tips.I even often find them between pages of books or reports in my office. Finally its an incentive for purging. My moth traps are filled up very quickly and I am constantly killing them. Found they like to hang from the stipple ceiling as well as underneath the kitchen cabinets. They even manage to chew through plastic wrap to get into new foodstuffs and lay eggs and webs.

  25. Thuranie Aruliah says:

    I’m going to try your home made cleaner on my larder cupboard – with peppermint oil. Your site has helped me deal with an infestation of pantry moths, but I still see odd ones emerging and sticking to my trap inside the empty cupboard every day or so, two weeks after clearing and cleaning the cupboard following your advice. Threw out so much dry food that it hurt and everything is going into Kilner jars now, but the jars and cans are all piled on my kitchen table as I don’t want to put anything back in the cupboard until that moth trap stays empty!

    So these moths are still emerging – but what on earth are the larvae living in or on? There’s nothing left in there! And I can’t see anything moving except dying moths!

  26. Peter C Timpson Jr says:

    I have had these buffers for over a year now. I’ve emptied out cabinets multiple times, wiped cabinets down with 50/50 solution bleach/water and then I’ll see them in the ceiling of my kitchen.there is a 3\4 gap between the cabinets and the ceiling. I put both traps on top of cabinet between that gap and in a bout 3 months it was filled.
    Other than jamming bay leaves in the gap all around cabinets, is there any way to get them if they are out of reach?

    1. I am at the verge of a nervous breakdown, because I seem not to be able to get rid of indian meal moths!!!! I don’t know what to do anymore; I wiped all my cabinets, pantry (I even painted the pantry); and they seem to be still there; pantry is shared with our laundry/furnace room and they seem to be still somewhere in the laudry; they get caught everyday in the traps (ocasionally i kill 1-2 around the house, even upstairs in the bedrooms-is this normal ?) I vacuumed the walls, I put some peppermint oil in different spots!!!! I don’t have any food in the house whatsoever, everything is out, except for spices that are in glass or plastic jars!!!! what should I do???!!!! please help!!
      Another problem I think might be our garage!!!! We seem to have a lot of the moths there!!!! (could it be in the birds food? )I am affraid i am bringing them back to the house!!! also i removed all my clothes from closets and put in the garage in the plastic bins (i thought I have clothes moths too, which after a research i don’t think I do); I bring clothes slowly home, wash and dry them in hot temperatures!!! We fogged the garage already and i used some spray inside home in the corners and crevices but it doesn’t seem to help, they still get caught in traps!!! please advice what else can I do?
      Sorry for a very long msg but i don’t what to do anymore; thank you

  27. Another culprit is birdseed. My mom used to spread newly-bought birdseed on a shear pan and bake it at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or so to kill off any larva. A side benefit is that any seed that lands on the grass under your feeders will not sprout.

  28. Carina barberi says:

    Hello please help 911 I just killed 40 moth maggots and moths from the ceiling of my kitchen all over next I’m cleaning my pantry it’s just a lot of work , but the ones from my kitchen ceiling keep coming back what do I do ???

  29. Gary Naman says:

    After reading this blog and stripping the pantry bare I called an entomologist at a pest control company and he said it’s fairly easy…and it is! 1. Buy a gallon of white vinegar at the grocery, a large spray bottle, and several rolls of paper towels. While stripping the pantry bare, 2) Spray generously each bag, can, spice, bottle with FULL STRENGTH white vinegar making sure to spray into the caps and threads of bottles and around edges of storage containers. 3 While spraying, closely examine every package and look for the source (we found ours in an acrylic canister with a rubber gasket. and a tight metal locking device). 4) Discard all open packages and put them in a garbage bag — be sure to seal the garbage bag(s) and take it / them out of the house. 5) GENEROUSLY spray any straw baskets, etc. several times at different intervals (the eggs are very small and can get between the weaves). 4) If you have room in your freezer, store unopened tea boxes, etc. in the freezer for 2-3 days. 6) Fortunately the gestation period for meal moths is short but it can vary with the temperature — if the weather is warm, the gestation period is shorter. 7). Generously spray the shelves, walls and ceiling of the pantry SEVERAL times and wipe them down each time you spray. 8) Keep the pantry doors closed to contain the moths in a viewable area. 9) Repeat #5 several times for 2-3 days, each time squishing moths and larvae as you encounter them. By the end of the first day you should see fewer moths flying around and by the second day you should finally be nearly free of moths. To be sure you’ve killed all the eggs, larvae and moths, wait a few days (depending on the temperature) after seeing the last moth before restocking the pantry.

    We did our pantry on Sunday, by Sunday night we saw fewer moths, on Monday even fewer, on Tuesday fewer still, and this morning, Wednesday, I killed one moth. I sprayed several times a day Monday & Tuesday and if I don’t see any moths tomorrow, we’ll put everything back.

    The best part??? We took the opportunity to clean out the pantry of “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the years and got rid of “stuff” we only used once several years ago.

    Have fun!.

  30. The larvae are like little tan worms that seem to like crawling across your ceiling. For months I was swatting the moths (they are especially active at night when lights are out), but I never noticed the larvae until I found one hanging by a thread of web. Then I noticed a lot of them! Almost the same color as my ceiling but they slither out from the pantries across the ceiling. They seem to like the corners where they wrap themselves into a cacoon. Now I am swatting both moths and larvae and will dispatch whatever dry goods may be infested. Thanks for the tip on vinegar and bay leaves, I will toss and clean this week!

  31. Janet Apostoliuk says:

    Just wondering – plastic wrap,foil wrap and other wraps – do these need to be tossed?
    Are closed boses ok to keep?

  32. We have been fighting these pests for over a year now. At first, it was mistaken identity, I didn’t know what they were. Then we figured it out, and cleaned the baking cabinet, but my husband never got any pantry traps (I was away). By then, they were in all food areas of the kitchen. We cleaned everything and threw out lots of food, securing the rest in plastic bags and air-tight containers. CAUTION, that solution will not stop them. The moths can even get into factory sealed plastic! They also love the cardboard boxes that cereal and mixes come in. PULL OUT the drawers, I’ve found many cocoons right in the slider mechanisms. Also, a wet Q-tip can clear out the “shelf supporting” holes in cupboards. I’ve found cocoons there, too. Thanks, Katie for this site, now that all food areas (and ceiling/wall corners) have been cleaned, I will use the 50/50 solution, bay leaves, and peppermint oil. SUGGESTION: Place a pantry moth trap in all enclosed, previously infested, areas as a sign that either they are gone!!! or to catch any remaining ones.

  33. MothMadness says:

    We have been dealing with these guys for over a year now. By time we figured out that they were what they were and not just bugs comming in since the installation of a doggy door. I have cleaned and taken care of any food sources but they seemed to have moved onto new areas of my house even a completely different floor. I’m not sure what to do now since this has gone way beyond the normal since they have no access to food. I even found them making their cacoon webs in the dry products in my craft room. Any suggestions on what could be keeping them around without access to food sources. I keep everything not bottled or canned in a separate refrigerator for this exact reason.

  34. Hi

    I have an infestation of pantry moths and little worms ? my concern is… my pantry is used on one side to store a whole lot of unused kitchen goods that are in cardboard boxes and on the other side is food…

    I had a bad infestation about a year ago but thought it was ok u til bam I start seeing a million moths and worms on the ceiling and in cupboard…

    Do I have to chuck out the cardboard boxes or can I just wipe over them with vinegar… as silly as it sounds there is a sentimental meaning with all the stuff in boxes and wasn’t quite ready to discard the boxes yet as they are all new (not food items, things like kitchen ware gifts)

    1. Katie Berry says:

      These moths love to breed in cardboard boxes, as do many other household pests. If you absolutely can’t discard the boxes yet, you might want to put them into plastic tubs with lids.

  35. Catherine Hines says:

    I have these moths. I just took everything out of the pantry and have an exterminator coming tomorrow, Do I need to discard spices that are in bottles or tin cans? I have seen a couple in the cat’s fountain out on the lanai. There is no food there. So how do I get rid of these moths? Maybe once a week I’ll see one buzz through.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Your exterminator can make recommendations appropriate to your situation and the actual pest involved. In general, though, if something is in a bottle or tin can it’s almost impossible for moths to lay eggs in there, so you should be okay.

  36. SOOOOO helpful. Been fighting these for 6 months and losing my dang mind. Appreciate the help!! Before I found this, I was ready to throw a match in the pantry. God Bless You.

  37. SHAWN WILSON says:

    My daughter just moved into an apartment and the moths were there already. The kitchen was filthy so I am going to assume thats part of the problem. We did clean it but just with soap and water. I will go back through it and use the 50/50 solution and then a bit of bleach. The small amount of food we put in there came from my house so I know its ok. It has been there for two days so do you think we need to throw that all away now too?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Don’t combine bleach with the 50/50 vinegar solution, please! It creates chlorine gas, and while that might kill pantry moths it could harm your daughter, too. As for the food, I’d suggest putting it into air-tight containers right away.

  38. My kitchen became infested with pantry moths and larvae about a month ago. I got 2 traps that are working. However, I continue to see the worms every couple of days, usually three or four. They are travelling across my kitchen. Today I took everything out the shelves, washed glass items in soapy scalding water. I wiped down the inside of the shelves with pure vinegar. I also just now put a few things in the freezer–thanks for that suggestion. I actually am out of bay leaves so am going to the store to buy a bunch plus peppermint oil. I washed the walls I could reach. I’m just hoping those awful worms will be gone. I especially do not want them going to any other part of the house. I’m buying more vinegar and will keep washing down the kitchen and hope for the best. This is the first time in my life that I’ve had this problem. This is awful! Thank you for all the great tips. I will try as many as possible.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      These things are so frustrating, aren’t they? I hope to hear back that you’ve got them under control.
      Best,
      Katie

    2. This is an update from my previous comment. I have made an important discovery. Last weekend when I was cleaning I noticed that several worms appeared after wiping down the counters with pure vinegar. This included wiping the face of the electrical outlets in my kitchen. I was wondering where those worms suddenly came from and realized that the only common thing regarding their locations were the electrical outlets. I decided to go with my theory that the worms had come out of the outlets. I do not keep small appliances on my counter tops. They are stored in cupboards. Therefore, the outlets are open and available for something to go inside. Since you cannot spray or stuff anything into an outlet, I decided to cover all of them with outlet covers. I used clear plastic singles. I covered every electrical outlet in my kitchen including the spare where the exhaust fan is plugged in inside the cabinet above my stove. That was a week ago and since then I have not seen any worms at all. I truly believe the moths were laying eggs in the outlets and the worms were in there. I strongly suggest that you go to the hardware store and get the electrical outlet covers and install them as soon as possible. Wipe the front of the outlet with a cloth dampened with pure white vinegar first and then insert the plugs. I hope this helps others with this horrible problem.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Thanks for the update, Jennifer. I’d never have thought of that solution!

  39. Bought dried chili peppers and corn husk to make tamales. Started seeing moths and discovered larve in my pantry yesterday. Cleaned and threw away all grain products. Found where they hatched in both peppers and husks. Worked all day. This morning adult moth walking around like he owns the pantry! Thanks for the info!

  40. Denise Ackerly says:

    For all still suffering after numerous treatments. Try shopping at a different grocery store. Or if u shop several try to narrow or use only 1.

  41. I have been fighting these nasty things for about three weeks. Broom to get them off the ceiling and I sit with a fly swatter. I have three ‘safe rooms’ where there are no moths. I have washed, removed cupboard shelves..well you get the pix. And I have bay leaves everywhere and moth catchers. I am about the rip my hair out. Any other suggestions before I lose my mind and have no food?

  42. Keep in mind that ‘dry goods’ includes nuts and seeds. When I cleaned out my pantry I found the worst infestation in an open bag of walnuts.

  43. Has anyone ever tried natural methods using parasites such as trichogramma wasps??? I am thinking of using this method, but just curious to know from someone who might have already used these. Any thoughts?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Joanne,
      The use of Trichogramma wasps to kill moths is an outdoor practice followed by farmers, plant nurseries, and gardeners. Most people understandably don’t like the idea of growing wasps in their homes.

  44. From the info/questions posted it sounds like they start From a food item or container but also will invade cabinets that don’t have food in them. I’m in the process of getting rid of them. I didn’t think I needed to worry about the cabinets that don’t have any type of food product in it but sounds like I need to?

  45. If you find moths in other rooms, does that mean they are laying eggs in those rooms too? Or, are the eggs just really in the kitchen area?

  46. We have been fighting the infestation for over a year now. At first it was constant moths, then we had a lull and then for the past months, only worms, but lots of them. Sometimes 10 or more a day. Why would there be only worms and no moths? You mention that freezing kills the moths and larvae – do you know if it kills the eggs too? With it being winter, it will be easy for us to move ALL our food outside to freeze and kill everything, so I can be sure that none of those things have living moths or larvae in/on them, but what about the eggs? Also, you make many references to putting things in “air-tight containers”. Honestly, at this point, I don’t even know what that means to these beasts. It seems they can get into EVERYTHING! I have things with silicone seals and are water-tight and they seem to get in. Screw caps are no match. Zip bags are gotten through. Clamp-top jars. There does not seem to be any container that I can find that they cannot get into, including new packaging. I don’t believe all these things came with the bugs already in them from the store. I have been around more years than I care to say and have NEVER had an issue like this. We must have brought in one thing at one time and it has caused this infestation that now can’t be gotten rid of. Unfortunately, I am considering resorting to chemical warfare next, coupled with all your great suggestions. I previously covered all the shelf peg holes with masking tape (still there after a year!) as they had been laying eggs there. I like the idea of covering the outlets too – that may be next. The good news is that so far (fingers crossed), they have only been spotted in the kitchen, and we do store some overflow food in the basement. I find they prefer items that are sweetened the best (granola, cookies, tea with sweet things in it, even chocolate). I thought grain-type items were their favorite? I’m going crazy and really sick of all the food I’ve thrown away and wasted.

  47. Barabara Boday says:

    I agree with your details , wonderful post.

  48. William Jackson says:

    After I found the major source of my pantry moths (a big bag of sunflower seeds in the basement) and did all the obvious cleaning, I took care of the rest by giving them places to lay their eggs.
    I put out containers of grain products and emptied them at the beginning of every month. Seemed to work.

    Every pest has its weakness. With pantry moths, it’s the 6 weeks or more between egg laying and pupating. I guess a monthly cleanup of the kitchen and pantry would be a good idea for the same reason.

  49. Heather C says:

    Hi, I desperately need help. I found larvae about 6 weeks ago in my pantry and did a full scale clean with everything mentioned. I threw everything away, rejoined everything after freezer quarantine into plastic oxo containers and mason jars. After about 4 weeks of no larvae or anything, I started to see moths. Immediately bought traps and started killing the suckers. Here’s the catch, the moths have been in our upstairs bathroom (far away from the pantry), and our mud room. I’ve now done another full scale clean expanding it to all mentioned areas and am still seeing them. I’ve thrown out everything and am spiraling out of control. Any ideas?

  50. Please let people know they will also bore into sauce, seasoning, gravy, taco packets. They like the spices & gluten so Beware to safeguard those envelopes ( none of the articles even mention those). Good luck.

  51. Hello to all,
    I had a massive infestation last summer – was “rewarded” with moths for buying dry food with eco packaging in efforts to reduce plastic. Throwing out tons of food hurts on so many levels but even I cleaned EVERYTHING I still keep killing at least one or two of the flying buggers each day! I can’t find anything in the places you suggested and going out of my mind trying to find their new nesting places. I did notice that garlic prevented them from entering the food places again – so leaving that all around the kitchen now. One question though: I started seeing small white moths and started having panic attacks about my clothes – are these perhaps “young” kitchen moths or an I now faced with the “closet problem”? Didn’t notice anything in the closet area though and considering it’s winter – contemplating taking cotes and other woolen things for a few h outside in the -C … Any advice please? Thank you!

  52. Just an update for all of you:
    1. Garlic definitely seems to work as a repellent for kitchen moths
    2. I have cleaned my kitchen top to bottom and used vinegar in all cracks, corners and cabinets.
    3. Discovered two new hiding places:
    a) My cookbooks. In the covers as well as between the pages. Cleaned them as much as I was able to with a cotton pad damped with vinegar and placed them in the freezer for a few days. Hoping for the best.
    b) And now this is just unbelievable and totally weird – I just want to hear if you ever experienced this: I found larvae and a few grown ones in the – brace yourself – LAUNDRY DETERGENT (powder) box…
    I know they love box/paper crevices but I always thought they will avoid strong smelling chemicals. I’m lost for words. Has anyone else had this experience? It’s not the bio detergent – regular supermarket one…
    I threw out all paper boxes too but I’m really close to a nervous breakdown as I have a huge book library in the other room…
    In any case, it’s been a week now since I saw / found /killed the last one… Anything I can use to protect my other books besides freezing and vinegar? Cookbooks from the kitchen are still in the freezer (better safe than sorry) but I can’t do that with the other books as there’s simply too many.
    Magic sponge does miracles on wall stains from smashing and splatting them around, just FYI…
    Good luck everyone!

  53. Roger Banbury says:

    I found out these bugs love olive oil! Before sanitizing a cupboard, I put just a little oil in the bottom of the compartments of a muffin pan, and leave it overnight in the cupboard. Twenty dead moths the next day!

  54. They took me forever to get rid of. I discovered them in the worst way. Reading while I eat. Cheerios in the morning. Eyes on my book while I ate the bowl until I got to so few I had to look at the bowl to get the last few Cheerios into my spoon. And was like….uhhhhhh…….while I stared paralyzed at my cereal bowl. Based on what was in the bowl, who knows what I ate that I wasn’t looking at. I’ll testify they won’t kill you if you ingest them, but it sure will remove your appetite. I did all the purging, cleaning and had Terminex out a few times plus traps, but it was still a while.

  55. Nicole Heimerl says:

    Well damn, I think you I have you all beat. 11 years ago we remodeled our kitchen (we had a pantry moth problem for about six months at that point). I put everything that I was keeping in the freezer for a week before transferring it to our garage which was our temporary kitchen for the next seven months. We literally ripped off that portion of our house. When we moved back into our new kitchen, no old food came in.
    It was better for a while and we’ve been using pantry past my traps religiously however we’ve come to a point now, 11 years later, where I’m ready to have the house exterminated. Like tented. it’s that bad. I have cleaned out my pantry more times than I can count washing down the walls soaking every can because I found them behind the seat Kim labels in the glue, under the rim of the unopened peanut butter, you name it. Now they are all over my house they are in my master bedroom which is upstairs and 1000 feet away. Does anyone know if tenting the house will help?

  56. I am sorry to have to say this, but I know this first hand: Tupperware and other thick plastic containers will NOT keep the moths out!!! I have a large T-ware container that will hold about 10 pounds of flour, stored some grain in it, and when I opened it there were the moths. I don’t know if they were already in the grain (probably were) or got in from the outside. What I do know is that when I was cleaning my container, filling it up with hot soapy water, I saw the water spurting out all over the container through tiny holes! So whether they were coming or going doesn’t matter, THEY ATE THROUGH THE TUPPERWARE! I’m so disgusted. So please, folks, don’t trust your heavy plastic containers for your long term food storage.

  57. To those people that cannot find a source for the moths not in the kitchen I want to share my experience.
    I have neck problems so I used to buy those little rice filled cloth bags that you can heat up in the microwave to put around my neck when it was sore. I used to store a couple of those little bags in my sock drawer until I noticed moths. Sure enough, I had to clean out my sock drawer after I threw away the rice bags. They worked so well on my neck and now I just pass them when I visit boutiques, which is where I would buy them.

  58. Lori Hodgson Saltz says:

    The real pearl is to check all the holes for the shelf supports including the ones the supports are in. That’s where they lay their eggs. You might see webbing over the opening, a sure sign there is large inside unless the moth has escaped. I had tried everything without success until I read this on another site. Sure enough we found tons. I made up this spray and dipped a small brush I use for my hummer feeders in it and started cleaning out every hole. I washed and sprayed everything again and got hole plugs for shelving on Amazon. No more moths!

  59. Hi! I just bought my first house in June and sadly the house had pantry moths and we did not notice them during inspection. We aren’t seeing handfuls of pantry moths daily but I would say 4-8 a day. Is this normal? We have had two exterminators come and they have drilled holes in the walls. We haven’t had any food in the house for 3 months it was a completely empty house and we still have them! In July we discovered the two lazy susans in the cabinet were filled with cocoons and we removed that and threw it out. We have cleaned every inch of the house. We re did our hardwood floors and have painted every inch of the house. We are capping and cleaning our fireplace tomorrow as that seems to be where they are now coming from. I am loosing hope and this problem doesn’t seem to be going away. Any and all suggestions are welcomed. I am at the point in wanting to sell the house.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That sounds very frustrating. I can’t think of any other areas you could address, though.

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