How to get rid of birdseed moths

By Dr. Killigan
How to get rid of birdseed moths

Like the internet, bugs are forever.

It’s likely that one day you’ll have an infestation of some sort on your hands, whether it be from ladybugs, ants, earwigs, cockroaches or another intrusive insect.

If you own birds or simply keep birdseed in your garage to feed the neighborhood flock, you’re likely to come across the notorious pantry moth—a tiny, fluttering enemy of households far and wide.

Why do I have moths in my birdseed?

Moths enjoy dry foods of all sorts, ranging from various types of birdseed, including wild and safflower variations, to oats, cereal, corn, and flour. When these dry goods are processed at a (food) plant or stored in a warehouse, they may become contaminated. This contamination comes as quite a surprise when one day you notice a moth flittering to and fro in your garage, unknowingly having been sourced in that 25-pound bag of dry birdseed that you purchased at the local pet food store. You dismiss this brown flutter, but then several days pass and now a small congregation of these flyers are in your garage.

Note: If your garage is attached to your home, be mindful that pantry moths will gravitate towards other close-by food sources as well (and you may discover moths in your house).

Pantry moths, my friend, are on a mission. Their sole life objective is to reproduce and reproduce they will, infesting places with an abundant food supply. Birdseed (and other dry goods) gives these moths a safe place to not only lay their eggs, but also provide their offspring with a rich diet of food on which to feast on and grow on (once hatched).

When you see this unsightly congregation of flyers, it’s quite possible that they have already laid their eggs somewhere close by.

How do I know if they’re pantry moths?

First, it’s important to make sure that you’re dealing with a moth, whether first glimpsed in its egg, larvae, (which looks like a wiggling worm), or adult moth stage, as you may also find weevils and other bugs in your pantry. Weevils, mind you, are brown and very tiny (about 1/16th of an inch) and mostly attracted to raw wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice and corn, whereas flour beetles, another pantry pest, are shiny, flattened, oval-shaped, 1/8 of an inch in length and reddish-brown, and are mostly attracted to flour, grains, and grain products, like macaroni and cereals. 

Once you’ve ensured that you have a moth on your hands, you must next identify the species of moth. Though birdseed moths—also known as pantry moths and Indian meal moths—are the most common type of household pantry pest in the United States, there are also clothing moths, carpet beetles, and several types of house moths that can wreak havoc in your home.

You can also identify a pantry moth via its displeasing traits. Pantry moths can leave behind sticky secretions that cause clumping of grains and create webbing along the corners of packages or on the product inside. Their presence can also produce an unpleasant odor in your dried goods.

How do I get rid of these moths (in my garage and house)?

If you find that your birdseed is the source of a pantry moth infestation, ensure that you are using plastic containers, free of any cracks or holes, that have airtight or rubber sealable lids. If you want to go a step further, and have the freezer space, bag your birdseed into smaller ziplock bags and store it in your freezer prior to use. In addition, make sure to always clean up any remnants of birdseed that surround your container.

If birdseed is not the source of your infestation, finding that source is a must to overcome your moth problem. Once the source is discovered, immediate removal is top priority, followed by vigorous cleaning, which includes the use of Six Feet Under, and moth traps.

Pocket fact: You can freeze infested birdseed (do so by placing it in the freezer for 48+ hours) and then still feed it to your birds, unless it is so heavily infested that much of the seed is consumed. Larvae provide a good protein source for birds. (Accidentally eating a pantry moth likely will not make a person sick either, as they do not carry transmittable diseases).

I love feeding birds. I remember when I was in grade school, walking home from school one afternoon, when I stumbled across a bag of birdseed on my quiet street. Perhaps it had fallen off the back of someone’s truck. As I peered into its mess that was sprinkled like drops of rain all over the paved road and sidewalk, I saw movement. It was wriggling with larvae. Yet I still happily scooped up an overflowing handful and brought it to my own front yard, eager to feed my neighborhood flock.

How do I protect my birdseed from moths?

Once you have rid your home (and your life) of pantry moths, it’s time to keep those moths forever at bay by placing Dr. Killigan's Premium Pantry Moth Traps around areas of possible infestation—including your garage (or wherever your birdseed is kept) and in your pantry. Keeping Pantry Moth Traps out at all times will immediately alert you to possible infestations. What’s fantastic about our traps is that they’re non-toxic, good for three months (once opened) and unopened, are good for three years from the date of manufacture.

It’s also imperative that you create an environment that's unfriendly for pests. Do all that you can to keep pantry pests (and all pests for that matter) where they belong—in the great outdoors. Gird yourself with DIY pest control knowledge and take control of your home and yard today.


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2 comments
  • I’m going to go check my bird feeder for pantry moths now. ;-)
    Mitch Clark on
  • Indian meal moths! That’s what goes after birdseed!

    Jason McCormick on

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