How to Get Rid of and Prevent Pantry Moths

By Julie Miller
How to Get Rid of and Prevent Pantry Moths

Getting rid of pantry moths need not be complicated, but it can be. It depends on the severity of the infestation. The main issue is that you often don’t know you have a problem on your hands until the life cycle has been completed: the mother moth has laid her eggs, ranging anywhere from 200 to 400 over a period of one to eight days, these eggs have hatched, and you see the full-grown larvae (now adults) flying around.

Getting Rid of Pantry Moths

Getting rid of these flying pests takes a few steps, which must be promptly executed. Adult pantry moths don’t live long (as they don’t feed), which may sound nice until you realize that within that short snippet of time in which they’re an adult (and really just want to mate), they have the ability to lay anywhere from 300 to 500 eggs. These eggs become adults in as little as 30 days. If the temperatures are cold, though, and food availability is scarce, it could be as long as 300 days. It would be nice if we could plan for cold weather infestations (if there were to be any infestations at all), but it just depends on that grain you just brought into your home. Does it contain larvae? Are those larvae ready to hatch? Are you ready to deal with these winged invaders? 

To nip a pantry moth infestation in the bud, there are a few key steps to follow.

  1. Rid your home of the source of infestation. Don’t even think about placing it in your (indoor) trash can, which would only further the issue. If you have pets, be sure to check their dry pet food too.
  2. Do a thorough cleaning. Remove everything from your cupboards and food-storage areas. This is a must. In doing so, look for larvae and cocoons and any holes in packaging. Then, vacuum and scrub all surfaces, paying special attention to the corners, the undersides of shelves, corners, shelf brackets, mounting hardware, and any cracks or holes in the shelving. Third, wipe down your pantry shelves with a simple water and vinegar solution. Follow this up with our Six Feet Under Non-Toxic Insect Spray, which will ensure that no larvae or eggs were missed.
  3. Place traps. Place three of Dr. Killigan’s Premium Pantry Moth Traps in a triangular or web-like formation around the area of infestation. The male pantry moths are attracted to the pheromone in the traps and become hopelessly stuck to the glue. It is important to note that you will have to kill the female and juvenile moths by hand.

Indian meal moths can be difficult to eradicate and can sometimes return. Often, while the first round of traps is catching adult males, there is a second round of eggs incubating. Just when the problem seems to be under control, the new eggs hatch. Each time there is a hatch, there will be fewer and fewer moths (meaning fewer and fewer males). To wipe out all of the cycles of moths, it can take as little as 3 weeks or it can take up to 6 months. It depends on how bad the infestation is, how clean the kitchen is, and most importantly, if all of the contaminated food sources have been eliminated.

Preventing Pantry Moths

Here are a few prevention tips that are helpful if you bring any of these winged unwelcome visitors into your home and will help rid your home of pantry moths forever.

  1. Store your goods in airtight containers. Place all grains, cereals, and other dry goods in mason jars, tins, or other tight-sealing containers. Thus, if you unintentionally bring a food item into your home that has pantry moth larvae, the moths will be contained within the container and you’ll only have one jar that you have to throw away!
  2. Keep dry goods in your freezer or refrigerator. If you have space, keep your flour, oatmeal, baking mixes, and nut products in the freezer or refrigerator rather than your pantry or cupboards.
  3. Freeze dry goods for 48-72 hours. If you lack storage space in your freezer or refrigerator, you may want to freeze your dried food items for 48-72 hours before using them in your home. Goods to freeze: oats, flour, grains, raw nuts, birdseed, pet food, corn-based cat litter, and any other bulk grain purchases. Freezing them will kill any larvae that might be present in these foods, thus preventing an introduction of them to your pantry. 
  4. Keep a pantry moth trap out at all times. Keeping a trap out to attract moths will alert you to a problem before it gets out of hand. Opened, Dr. Killigan’s Pantry Moth Traps are good for three months from the date of manufacture. Unopened, they are good for three years from the date of manufacture.

Final Word on Getting Rid of (and Preventing) Pantry Moths

The end is in sight. Remember small victories. Chat, email, or call us if you’re feeling overwhelmed or perplexed (or any of an array of emotions that an infestation of pantry moths might conjure up). Chat with us at drkilligans.com, email us at support@drkiligans.com, or phone us at (844) 525-2779.


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1 comment
  • It’s crazy how quickly a pantry moth infestation can multiply. I am shocked that each adult lays up to 400 eggs. It’s also frustrating that the eggs can remain dormant for 300 days. You could have an infestation and not even know about it till they all hatch. I hope this is never something I have to deal with at my house.

    Aaron on

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