Getting rid of pantry moths - Any success stories? ((Sigh))

karolokeOctober 27, 2009

We've never had a problem before in the 28 years we've been married, but found some pantry moths a few days ago and are in the process of doing everything I read on the internet to get rid of them. I've read other people's stories about how even though they thoroughly cleaned everything, stored food in air tight containers, freeze dried foods for a few days etc. they've had them come back. I am horrified to think they could come back, especially after all we've thrown out, the cleaning, bleaching, and even exterminating we've done, and I'm not sure at what point we can rest easy (I've read the moth cycle can take from 30 to 300 days to complete!) I'm afraid I'll miss a crumb somewhere in the next 300 days and it will all start up again. Has anyone had long term success getting rid of these pests? Also, I've gotten rid of all dried foods, even those with no signs of contamination, but do I need to also throw out all spices, oils, extracts, molassess, Karo syrup etc. even if they show no signs of contamination? I'm afraid an egg could be on the container somewhere and hatch even if I wipe them down. Anyone with success eliminating them long term?

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Yes, I have. I think we bring these critters home from the grocery store in food we have purchased. So if you know where you got the contaminated food, avoid that store for awhile.

If I see those moths flying down a grocery store aisle, I shop elsewhere for the next few weeks or months.

Put your spices in the freezer for 4 days. Wiping down the container of Karo ought to do it. Do be sure that you scrubbed the underneath surface of each shelf and the side and back walls of the cupboards too.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 8:49PM
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First take everything out of the cabinets. Throw out everything. No, wait, you can keep the salt. No insect I know of eats salt. But discard any food, flour, cereals,rice, shake-n-bake, tacos, etc. Then spray the empty cabinets with Raid, preferably the Ant and Roach formula. Close the doors and leave them shut for a week. Then vacuum out the closets-there will be plenty of dead bodies! Finally, buy all new foods but put them in proper storage containers, like Tupperware. This has always worked for me. I've had what I call "Grain Weevils" three times in 30 years.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 8:47AM
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Thanks Sheila and Jannie for your replies. So your's didn't come back?

I am in the process of vacuming, scrubbing, bleaching, etc. everything in my kitchen. I've thrown out all food except canned goods (which I washed and boiled) and things like food coloring, vinegars, salt, tea bags and spices. I put the spices in air tight containers but I think I will freeze them too. Even though they may not eat something, I'm afraid they may lay an egg on it that will hatch. I did spray with Hot Spot and am going to have an exterminator spray too. I have a very large pantry so I had several non-food items in the pantry (like boxes of crystal and silver that were handed down), paper plates and napkins, some linens, boxes of crayons, markers, a junk box, etc. - lots of stuff that was not food. I'm not sure if I need to worry about them or not. I took all that out to our detached garage but am afraid they might have eggs that will hatch. Hopefully if they do, they won't find food, but I am nervous about that. My kitchen is probably cleaner than when the house was built, but I'm still afraid they'll come back after what I've read on the internet. Hopefully I caught it early enough to take care of the problem.

I'm trying to find a truly airtight container for a bag of dog food. The stores have containers that they advertize as airtight but water can leak out of them, so they are not. Does anyone know where I can get one?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 1:34PM
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Here we can buy in the supermarket "pantry moth traps" wich have a pheromone attractant and sticky glue inside. Any moths in the cupboard fly in there and get stuck rather than breeding in your food. I've foud them quite effective. Perhaps they have them where you live, in the supermarket or perhaps the hardware store.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 11:18PM
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We had an infestation of the moths and I have to second what Colleenoz said: use the pantry moth traps along with everything else you are already doing (eliminating the food sources). They really work. I'm attaching a web address where you can order them, but you may be able to find them at Home Depot or Walmart. I ordered mine. They were pricey but worth it because the worked.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pantry Pest traps

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 10:10PM
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Another vote for the sticky traps. They worked for me. I still keep them in my pantry "just in case" even tho I haven't had those little buggers in my cupboard for several years.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 11:53PM
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We had (have) those hardbody little black bugs. I'm convinced our first infestation came in on dog treats. In fact, the worst of our first infestation was in a box of dog treats. We completely emptied our pantry, vaccuumed and wiped down repeatedly, tossed everything that had infestation, and repacked our grains, meals, popcorn, etc into large tupperware, glass or pickle buckets. We also keep most of our dry goods in the basement in some cabinets - bugs haven't found it yet.

The infestation never completely went away, rarely we'll see a bug now and then, but not to the point we'll empty out the pantry again.

And for the record: popcorn in plastic bags is the *worst* problem for pantry bug infestation. Always in glass.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 10:51AM
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We had this very same problem and it took a while to finally rid ourselves of them. Went through lots of processes until I got fed up and emptied the pantry of absolutely everything, threw it all out except the canned goods, which I kept on our kitchen counters. Then I sprayed and sprayed for 2 weeks, everyday, closing the cabinet door each time. Then I completely washed every inch of the pantry with soap and hot water. After that we sat, watched, and waited! After about 2 months of not seeing another moth started restocking the pantry and put everything that wasn't in a metal container in tupperware or like product sealed tight! Have been doing this now for a year plus and no moths to date! that whole ordeal was awful! Embarrassing to have company come and have these moths flying around all the time, and then to have to answer the questions as to why my canned goods were all over my counters.

We recently took down the wallpaper border in the kitchen and the little buggers were even under that. SICK! They had even gotten into napkin wrappers and plastic utensil boxes, etc. They were everywhere! I still find remains of them in places I would have never thought to look. Ive decided it all started from a box of cornmeal I had for much too long and just spread out from there, found the crackers, and from there it was a disaster. Luckily my spices and flour and baking products were clear on the other side of the kitchen and not affected, mostly was just the things in the pantry or beside it. So frustrating! First I tried just throwing stuff I thought was infested, but that didn't work, they hide. Throw it all out and start fresh! and Good Luck!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 11:18AM
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I keep bird seed in the garage in galvanized trash cans - with the lids on. I orginally purchased these to keep any mice out, but somehow they got hugely infested with the meal moths. My garage filled up with the critters and some made their way into the house.

Thankfully, I was able to get rid of most of them, and I always disinfect each can before refilling with new seed. Even though occasionally I still see a moth in the house, I've never found any infestation in the pantry. I've had that happen years ago in a different house and I know how big a job it is to clean them out completely.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 9:27AM
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Thanks for all your replies! I didn't realize this thread was still getting them.
Well, the worst of the cleanup is over. I wasn't going to have an exterminator come, but decided that I really didn't want to battle this for months or years, so I did. That was after throwing out nearly everything in my pantry that wasn't in cans, but I did freeze some things like spices that weren't infested. I also bought some of those pantry moth traps as suggested and caught a few before the exterminator came, but none since. I've also bought lots of airtight storage containers for food. I had so many boxes of other things stored in the pantry, and I just put them all out in the garage, so now I have to start going through that stuff to see what may be hiding or hatching in there! I hope they can't find anything to feed on out there. I'm afraid to bring anything back in the house! I'm not sure how long it takes for any eggs to hatch into larva and then moths. I may keep them there until freezing weather sets in to hopefully kill any eggs, but I live in the south, so that may be awhile.

It's amazing how those little buggars can rule your life!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 12:27PM
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I have had total success with a First Alert plug-in unit..It is a very inexpensive ultrasonic plug-in device that I bought at Home Depot...I ran an extension cord into my pantry and plugged in three of the units and have not had moths in three plus years...This summer I had termites flying around and plugged in a couple of units near the infestation and they also disappeared...I am in the midst of remodeling and put an outlet into the pantry as I wouldn't be without these units...Good Luck, janna

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 7:36PM
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We had an infestation of them once, and it was horrible! I took everything out of the cabinets and put it all outside. Then I set forth with the tedious task of examining everything and throwing away a lot of food. I had to be sure to wipe down all the cabinets really well and also every single can of food because they would lay larve eggs behind the labels of soup cans etc. Then what did not appear to be infested with boxed foods, I put each box inside a ziplock bag before putting on the shelf and set forth with the task of putting a lot of things in tupperware. Then I would just pay attention to if something had an infestation inside the ziplock bag. If it did, it went into the garbage OUTSIDE of the house. It got rid of them completely.

Now when I shop I just do that as a matter of habit. Everything gets sealed inside either rubbermaid/tupperware and or the box is dropped into a ziplock bag and sealed. I reuse the ziplock bags to recycle them. I have never had a issue ever since.

It was such a huge chore to do all that to get rid of them. They probably came home to our house from a bag of oatmeal, or rice or flour or something.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 12:04PM
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I relive this nightmare every summer. Horrible in so many ways. I am like a madwoman swatting at them all the time and checking the ceilings obsessively.
I do use the traps, which catch a lot of moths. But I found that anywhere there are crumbs (like caught in the floorboards, backs of drawers, between appliances and even in the nooks of the closetmaid wire shelving) the eggs lay in wait of warm weather to hatch. I can never, ever get it all. Will an exterminator help?
Even if you use air tight containers you can still get the bugs that hatch into moths. They are in grains and seeds but only hatch with the right conditions of time and warmth--I try not to think about that too long...) I opened a sealed jar of sunflower seeds once that had been in my pantry for a year and found the larva.
In restaurants supplies are hold in cool/dry storage to avoid this.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 10:49AM
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I have also been inundated with "moths". They even got into a bottle of "Robertsons onion flakes" which i hadn't even opened. I cleaned out my pantry & threw a lot of Bay Leaves all over. Most of my flour products i keep in the refridgerator because they even get into sealed packets of soups. They seem to have vanished, but i don't know if it's due to the weather.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 5:51PM
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Those pantry pest traps really worked for us.

We were infested a couple years ago. I believe it was some of the new to me organic products I purchased that brought the moths in.

Beware that zip lock bags, even the name brand freezer ones, are't a true barrier. I found moths and larvae inside all of mine. Taco shells, pasta, rice all had to go. Also found them in those cardboard cans that breadcrumbs come in and oats too. Unopened plastic bags of dry goods as well.

Here in Oregon we don't have nearly as many bugs as I grew up with in Arizona so I have used baggies for pasta and rice for two decades instead of the glass or Tupperware I would have used in AZ.

We did have to throw away a lot of food but never sprayed the inside of the cabinets. Washed them with dish soap and water and set those pantry pest traps out.

Check any dried flower arrangements you may have. I did find larvae in one I had in the living room. It was a big bundle of preserved eucalyptus and other leaves and twigs.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:09AM
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Scatter bay leaves in your pantry and you will never have pantry moths or weevles. The lauric acid is an insecticide and repellent. sounds crazy....but it really works!
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 1:05PM
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Remember one thing- these critters eat thru paper (including cardboard) and plastic. So storing in them is NOT an option. A tip from my own experience. I noticed holes in the bottom of a paper can of oatmeal. You know-the kind with the face of a Quaker on it. So I knew grain weevils had been there or were still inside feasting . That oatmeal went in the garbage as soon as possible.Also-weevils are cannibals and will eat each other. So those empty "hulls" on a shelf merely are the dead bodies.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 9:43AM
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For prevention: Wrigley's Spearmint gum. I read this in one household hints book: and it really works. No other flavor works: it has to be regular Spearmint gum. After you have thrown out all the contaminated food, and washed everything: Get a big bulk pack. Scatter the wrapped sticks around the pantry. You don't even have to take the wrappers off.

I don't know if it works for other moths: but it sure does for the pantry ones.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 6:16PM
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I found steaming the cabinets kills them,also they have traps to lure them i put a bunch in cabinets, I got the little critters.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:54PM
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I had them many years ago and got rid of them after a few failed attempts. The failed attempts were due to not being thorough enough. You really have to go through EVERYTHING, and protect every single food item that is not in the fridge or freezer (except salt).

I put everything I didn't toss, into glass, or very thick plastic (I used large airtight tupperware-like bins for many dried goods, like beans, pasta, etc.). As a previous poster said, they will eat through plastic bags, and cardboard (boxes or cardboard cans like the kind oatmeal comes in).

They will even get into things in some plastic containers. I had them get into plastic spice jars (and they will eat spices you would never imagine, like hot pepper flakes). I ended up using a lot of old glass jars from pasta sauce, pickles, etc. A metal lid that screws on tight seemed to be enough.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:22PM
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Also, while those moth traps are a good way to know whether you have pantry moths, do not rely on them to get rid of an infestation. They are really just meant as an indicator.

However, they may save you from occasional invading moth if you aren't already infested. I've never had pantry moths in my current apartment, but I've had a moth show up in one of those traps a couple of times (and that was over a year ago, so if it was the beginning of something it would have showed up by now.) So either it caught a pantry moth who got into my place before it established a beachhead, or it just caught some other kind of moth.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:29PM
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I put a few traps out ,oh no I got plenty it ended my p[roblem I was determined to rid my house of them.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:31AM
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Read back......bay leaves scattered really DO work....and they are non toxic and much easier than steaming etc.
Try will be a believer.
Empty and toss all infested containers, wipe out the drawers and shelves, then scatter bay leaves.....and refresh the leaves every year.. Some people even put a leaf or2 in the flour or cereal canister.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:25PM
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I have been fighting this problem for years and have tried everything. Finally last Summer I hired a friend to help. We threw out almost everything in the cabinets, washed them inside and out with bleach, and I got large glass jars with rubber rings - the type with a wire latch that snaps the lid down tight. I store literally everything in these jars. I scoured thrift stores for months to build a big collection of these jars.

I found tons of moths under the shelf paper. They live on the adhesive on the back of the paper. It was disgusting! I will never user shelf paper again!

I keep traps out all the time. I still get an occasional moth - gross! I m going to buy a big bag of bay leaves at the grocery today and see if that helps.

Thanks everyone for all the ideas!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 9:06AM
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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

Lindac is absolute correct about the bay leaves. Quit killing yourselves and just spread some cheap Dollar Store bay leaves around.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:01PM
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First clean the pantry. Remove all contaminated, open or out of date items. Wipe the shelves well with cleaner (choose the best cleaner for the type of shelf). Remove any old shelf paper (they hide under paper and in cracks). Vacuum all the shelves before you re-organize food packages. Buy Safer Brand Meal Moth sticky traps that have a lure to attract bugs to sticky surface. I understand Diatomacous Earth DE (get the "food grade" DE) can get rid of soft skin larvae. Tupperware or sealed containers work best to prevent infestation or put boxes in sealed ziplock bags to prevent re-infestation.

In four weeks, recheck food packages such as cereal for worms or moths.

That is my best advise to win that battle. Best tool is the vacuum - it can suck the bugs for areas you can't reach easily. Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 7:00PM
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I am trying to rid my pantry moth issue that got into the rice bean the larve was all over. I removed all foods and I also have printer, internet router and mostly non food items. I found a couple of dead ones stuck in a roll of new paper towel, could they be feeding on paper?

I am trying to move but I am so scared I will introduce them to my new house.

I vaccum up the 3 or 5 moths about 2 times a day. I don't know where they are hiding. Is there a way to fumigate (bug bomb) the non food items so I can be sure?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 2:25PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

I vaccum up the 3 or 5 moths about 2 times a day. I don't know where they are hiding. Is there a way to fumigate (bug bomb) the non food items so I can be sure?

They could be hiding anywhere and everywhere, places where you can't see or reach them.

I had them a couple of years ago, and a year later when the wooden baseboard was removed when tile was put down, I found empty cocoons. When painting, I removed a light bulb in a closet, and saw there were even empty cocoons in the light fixture where you screw the bulb in. I found them in the plastic wrap boxes and in the glued ends of the waxpaper box. I cleaned everything as best as I could and then just hoped for the best, knowing that I had undoubtedly not gotten them all. The months that followed, I'd see an occasional one flying around and I immediately set to killing it, often knocking it down with a flyswatter and/or sucking it it using the sweeper wand if it was up high. I figured if I didn't have a live male and female at any one time, there would be no mating, thus breaking the lifecycle. I eventually won the battle, but to this day, won't rest if I see any kind of an occasional moth anywhere in the house.

Good luck. You can get them gone. Just do the best you can, keep after them, and be patient.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 4:51PM
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I continued to use vacuum cleaner to cut the population 2 times a day. After 2 weeks of this, along with moth traps are set up, I have not seen any new ones for a few days now. The vacuum cleaner was key compared to the "squish" method. Because alot would be on the ceiling and hard to catch, the vacuum reduced the population quickly.

Of course all food source are removed but not the other things. I do plan to completely empty out the pantry and wipe down everything.

They seem to like to find sharp edges or gaps to cocoon in. But the bottom line, they need some kind of dry food to continue to grow into a moth.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 2:29PM
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