It’s never great finding an insect or some other type of pest hanging out in your home, but discovering one residing in your food is especially disgusting. Coming across some ants marching in a line across your kitchen floor is one thing; opening up a container of flour and finding moths, tiny caterpillars, and a network of webs is truly a kitchen nightmare.
If you’ve found yourself in that last situation, you’ve probably had (or currently have) pantry moths. Here’s how to stop them from taking over your kitchen.
What are pantry moths?
Pantry moths are not the sign of a dirty home. In most cases, they gain entry as eggs, which were laid inside your groceries at a food-packaging facility. Depending on when you open the package, you may find full-grown moths, larvae (which look like tiny caterpillars), eggs, webs (which look like silken threads), poop pellets, cast skins, dead moths, and egg shells.
Generally speaking, pantry moths gravitate towards dry goods, and are most commonly found in packages of flour, sugar, grains, dried beans, seeds, nuts, cereals, baking chocolate, cake mixes, rice, nuts, dried fruit, dry animal food, birdseed, teas, herbs, spices, and potpourri mixtures.
Additionally, once they get into your pantry or cupboard, pantry moths may relocate from food packaging to other areas, including but not limited to: door hinges, backs of door knobs, any nooks and/or crannies, corners of wire baskets, the underside of shelves, and non-food items stored in there.
How to prevent pantry moths from taking over your kitchen
As you’ve probably determined by now, pantry moths are not something you want in your kitchen. Here are a few strategies for avoiding an infestation:
- Thoroughly inspect each of the items mentioned above as soon as you bring them home.
- Keep an eye on the ceilings and the walls of pantries or other food-storage spaces—especially the corners—for any moths, webs and/or larvae that may have moved in.
- Store dry goods in glass or metal containers: Pantry moth larvae can chew through paper and plastic.
- Clean up any wet or dry pantry spills (e.g. sugar and flour) immediately, as larvae only need small amounts of food to survive.
- Store dry pet food, including birdseed, in metal containers, away from where human food is kept (e.g. the garage or basement).
Want to learn more? The Old Farmer’s Almanac and Oregon State University have plenty of additional information on dealing with these unwanted houseguests—including how to get rid of them.