How I Finally Got Rid of Pantry Moths!

You open your pantry door, and you see a tiny flutter of something zigzagging its way, fluttering through the air. It’s a moth – not the sweater-eating moth, it’s definitely smaller than that. This one is eating your food!

They are almost IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of. Notice, I said, almost. They are gone here now, finally. Not a single flutter is left in my pantry. And, yes, I did try all the Pantry Moth Traps, (not effective!)the top to bottom cleaning, and even unsafe bug sprays. Nothing worked. It’s been 9 years since I wiped them out using powder:

Boric Acid, and the safer, but equally effective, Diatomaceous Earth.

susiej pantry moth

Boric Acid and Diatomaceous Earth effectively get into those nooks and crannies where the pantry moth lays their eggs.pantry1 Like where? In between the weaves of a wicker basket (they actually use this for food!), underneath the folds of your whole wheat flour paper bag from the store. (They won’t touch white flour, by the way, FYI), and they bore holes through plastic ziplock bags to get to the grains you’ve stored. They also like to spin their nest-like webs underneath your pantry shelves, in the corner, below the shelf, where you can’t see them.

This is where the powder comes in. You can sprinkle the powders in these areas, and it will stay put, and not make its way into your food. However, if it helps you, diatomaceous Earth is safe to ingest, and farmers use Diatomaceous Earth to mix into horse feed to destroy the bugs.

No fumes, no smell – no human poison. How safe? A study by John Ball Park of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Brookfield Zoos of Chicago Illinois; and Buffalo Zoo of Buffalo, New York found that a mixture of feed incorporating 2% diatomaceous earth was sent to three zoos for evaluation. John Ball and Buffalo Zoos reported that their black bears on the special feed showed a better coat and clearer eyes. The primates fed at the Brookfield Zoo displayed a pronounced improvement in both appearance and behavior. Stool samples taken at all three zoos showed an absence of any internal parasites – adult or egg. Parasites in these animals were present prior to using the diatomaceous earth food mixture.
So, there you have it.

You don’t have to mix diatomaceous Earth into your flour — just sprinkle it around your flour.


You’ll need to do a bit of detective work to find out where the pantry moth nests are located in your home. So, grab a bucket of soapy water, and a sponge and start clearing your shelves. While you’re pulling stuff out, take a look at those packages of whole foods and grains that you bought with good intentions, but never opened, (the pantry moth’s favorite meal) and see if you don’t find that webbing around the folds of the packaging.

Once everything is out, start wiping down those shelves, and make sure you look under the shelves. Then, keep going up, because the pantry moth loves to lay eggs around the warmth of your light fixtures. When you wipe out a “nest” take it immediately out of your house and drown it! The top of your fridge is warm, and so is behind it.

Wipe off the cans, the bags, the sacks and boxes, and everything that’s in your cupboard. Consider moving the whole grains and beans to your freezer, where the pantry moth can’t get to them. If you want to keep the whole grains in your pantry, consider storing them in sealed glass containers. (The pantry moths can lay eggs under the lip of metal tins.) Pantry Moths can eat through your plastic containers…eventually.

Once you’ve found a few pantry moth nests and larva, and wiped them out, you may think you’re done. You are not. These pantry moths are tenacious. There are more tiny little eggs hiding somewhere. And they will wait until the coast is clear, and the food supply is back up, to hatch. Trust me… there are eggs somewhere. You just can’t see them.


So, now this next step is vital. Before you put all of those pantry items back in your cupboard, you will have to sprinkle some of that  Boric Acid or Diatomaceous Earth around those clean cupboards. I know… all that work you did of cleaning.  But you don’t want to go through this again, do you? So, sprinkle that powder where you’re sure those baby moths might drag their silk trails through. This is your insurance that if you did miss something — and you did, because you are not cleaning with a microscope– you have protection against another infestation.

Remember, larvae are more patient than you are. So, while you won’t need to reapply the DE, as it does not lose its effectiveness, but you’ll need to leave it in place – for a little more than a year.

A mess? Yes… but if you’ve every tried getting rid of the pantry moth, you’ll know that this mess is worth it in the long run. Because, remember, those larvae are tenacious! And, what could be messier than a bunch of moths and worm running through your foodstuffs? I’ll take a sprinkling of DE dust around my pantry any day. Wouldn’t you?

A note on Diatomaceous Earth: Pantry Moths are exactly why God invented Diatomaceous Earth, (not to be confused with the kind used in swimming pool filters). It is a mineral dust mined from quarries. It’s a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. Its’ odorless, and poison free to humans. DE kills the insects when they come in contact with it. To insects, DE is a lethal dust with microscopic razor-sharp edges. These sharp edges cut through the insect’s protective covering drying it out and killing them when they march through the powder. If they ingest DE, it will shred their insides. (I’m sorry, but that is music to my ears when I think of those gross larvae walking through my whole grains.)

And, remember. You may not have a pantry moth, but the grocery store does. You may bring home a brand new box of buckwheat — but there are pantry moth eggs nesting in the glue of the packaging. This powder will ensure they don’t take over again.


Here’s what you can’t do for Pantry Moths.

The  Pantry Pest Trap emits a pheromone that attracts the pantry moths so they get stuck and can’t reproduce. I have grave reservations about this contraption – I actually found my moth population increasing when I purchased those things. Maybe it made the moths more fertile, or something… but they did little to stop the problem, except for making me going out to buy more. Maybe that was the point.

Once you’re sure, and I am VERY sure, that the larve are gone, you’re free to vacuum up the DE around your pantry. But, keep the bottle around. The applications for DE are wonderful. They can safely wipe out an entire bed bug population. 


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20 comments on “How I Finally Got Rid of Pantry Moths!
  1. I hope so. I will try this today. I got rid of them last month…now they’re back. Thanks for letting me know WHY!

  2. Thank you so much. Im at my wits end trying to kill these things. Thankfully the moths are slow enough to smash but seriously every morning I find a few more have hatched. Its so annoying to constantly see them. Just placed my DE order now.

  3. Is DE also safe around dogs? My sister lives in New Mexico and they are now being infested with moths by the hundreds. My sister is very protective of her animals so I want to make sure this is safe. I have searched and searched for the best remedy. Thanks!!! :)

  4. Pingback: Swiss Chard with White Beans and Job’s Tears | recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

  5. I found it at our local Ace Hardware store. I’ve also seen it a Farmer’s Supply Stores, as farmers like to use it around “feed” to keep the bugs out. You can also buy it online here:

  6. I’ve always been a little afraid of the DM, read some posts about it harming pets….? Glad you had success with it, though… seems to really work. I used an all-natural spray called Aunt Norma’s Pantry moth spray, and put out a pantry moth trap. I haven’t had a moth in a year! Am so grateful wanted to spread the word!! Will maybe try the Dm if those suckers come back though!!!

  7. I just bought some at the local feed store. Upon researching DE, I found that it is EXTREMELEY important to use the food grade variety. Most of the DE I found at hardware stores contain toxins that may be harmful to you and your pets.

  8. These pests have gotten into my birdseed. Can you sprinkle this mixture inside container or directly with the seed without harming birds?

  9. Diatoms were tiny creatures that died and fell into the silt in great numbers. As they are silica based they are sharp edged little fossils that destroy caterpillars and larvae. Chicken farmers and pigeon fanciers use diatomaceous earth to keep red spider mite at bay.

  10. Hello Susie:

    Thanks for this, I will try it immediately. I am officialy moth -obsessed and my kitchen is closed for business. Was about to call an exterminator but will head right to the boric acid.

  11. Hi there

    Do you know if it’s safe if cats walk through it (they can jump everywhere) and then clean themselves?

    What is the Aunt Norma’s Pantry moth spray made of?

    Thank you

  12. Yes… it is safe. Farmers mix the powder into livestock feed that the animals eat to keep the bugs out of the feed. Good luck!

  13. I have also been searching for clues as to what is in Aunt Norma’s and cannot find it… other than it may have essential oils of bay leaf, or sage — which moths do not like.

  14. JT~
    The article doesn’t make it crystal clear. There are two kinds of DE.
    One is an industrial sort of grade, usually used in pool filters. This one is NOT safe to ingest.

    The other is a food grade DE and the labeling will be specific. This is the variety being recommend. I use it myself for a variety of things that just have to invade my space instead of staying in the orchard.

    Neither grade, btw, is safe to inhale so spread low and slow.

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