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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138 comments to “How I Finally Got Rid of Pantry Moths!”
  1. The biggest part of the hassle of dealing with pantry moths is the attempt to clean everything and discard everything that might harbor them. Since we all know that doesn’t work to get rid of the infestation, my humble suggestion is to skip that step.

    (It takes a very lazy person to come up with some of the best labor-saving techniques, and I’m very lazy!)

    Sure, if you find webs decorating the lids of your plastic containers, wash them off, but really, that’s just cosmetic treatment. If some item is just crawling with them, throw it out.

    But if you can kill the active ones and interrupt their breeding cycle you’ll get rid of them whether you’ve scrubbed every surface in your house or not.

    Personally, I found a combination of dusting DE in the cracks and crevices of the cupboards, freezing some of the particularly attractive items (nuts, whole wheat flour, chocolate almond bars!), and the pheromone traps worked for me. I threw out only one small bag of almonds that was just too hideously webbed to look at and one tin of paprika likewise.

    I replace the pheromone traps every few months whether I see any moths or not, AND THEY ALWAYS CATCH A FEW EVENTUALLY, so whether these are new ones coming in from outside sources or a very low-grade continuing infestation, I don’t know, but for nearly two years so far, I’ve seen no new webbing in my various kinds of rice or spices that are in my cupboards, and no moths flying around.

    Be sure to follow the instructions on the traps about placement. More is not necessarily better. And it’s possible some populations of moths are resistant to some variations of the pheromones, so if one brand doesn’t work, maybe another will. The first one I tried was PestProfi, sold by “JustMary321” on Amazon and it worked for me.

  2. Thank you both. For the last 3 weekends, I’ve been cleaning and trying to find where the moths have been nesting and feeding.

    Yesterday I dusted diatomaceous earth in and around the food cupboards, the crown molding in most of the living room (that’s where I see them most), around the doors in the bedrooms, and a chair the little beasts were hiding in.

    I’ve seen a few moths this morning. I hope they’re just a couple of lucky survivors, but it is so discouraging to see any.

  3. That is so true — wiping off the webs is actually too late. You have to get to the source. I have always been reluctant to try the traps- thinking that they somehow attracted more moths from across the world to my kitchen! But it sounds like you have really nailed it to make sure you have it in the right locations. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing “bug free” air in your kitchen!

  4. I don’t know that there’s a way to attach a picture in here but I got something which I thought was equally as gross as pantry moths and I did not know what it was for several weeks turned out to be something called book lice. It is not something that gets on humans or in their hair but apparently likes dry things and that’s what was in my pantry pretty sure I brought it home from one of those bulk things at the grocery store and let it fester for quite some time in an old oatmeal container. Took me seven weeks to get rid of them all but I am finally able to look in my pantry again with a happy heart of course now everything I mean everything is in glass or plastic lived out of a bedroom because did not want anything else to get invested for all that time my husband thought I was nuts because they were so tiny he could barely see them unless I took a picture and magnified it. The struggle is real

  5. The moths are still here. This morning I killed a couple, a few more last night. Yesterday, I wiped about a dozen eggs off a wall–they weren’t even hiding in a crevice, just stuck on the wall. I’ve blown DE everywhere. All of the pet food and human food is either in the refrigerator or air tight containers so I don’t know what they’re feeding on. ARGH!

  6. LOL! Thank goodness for close-ups. Gives me a happy heart to think of seeing everything sealed up and tight — but be careful with plastic — they have a way of getting through! But at least you have DE…and that will definitely get rid of them.

  7. Hi Jill, You are on your way. The reason you are still seeing moths is because you are seeing newly hatched eggs. Remember our biology lesson about the life cycle of the moth. What you are seeing are “old” moths that just hatched and have not been wiped out yet. You’ll need to stay diligent until all the previous eggs have hatched — and once they do, you will be ready with your DE! This is why it’s best to keep the DE lying around for several months — maybe up to a year, to completely eliminate them, as new moths hatch.

  8. DE is still in place and I see and (try to) kill 2 or 3 moths a day. This morning I replaced all of the traps I put out in April and they were disgustingly full. Sigh. At this point, I’m just resigned to having the little monsters around unless I move out of this house and leave all of my belongings behind.

  9. Omg. I had them bad last summer the same time I wiped down all my new cabinets threw out everything and I was fine until now again sane time August. Seems like their in my basement somewhere and I keep my dog food in my freezer. I’m going nuts. I now just killed 2 in my bathroom on 3rd floor. Am I bringing them upstairs from my clothes I wash in my basement it’s a town house Help it’s driving me Nuts. It was fine here until a week ago. Oh I don’t see them in my kitchen cabinets just in my basement & garage.

  10. I didn’t see it mentioned but DE is very dangerous when inhaled. Those little jagged creatures will wreck havoc on your lung tissue. While Food Grade DE is in fact safe to eat, it is never save to breath, so please be cautious and wear a mask while sprinkling that powder everywhere. I love DE and have used it for over 20 years.

  11. I have used DE, I have scrubbed, thrown out everything, bought glass containers and STILL they explode in summer. I am at my wits’ end. Seriously.

  12. We are remodeling our kitchen and have literally torn out everything! We have no pantry, no food, and it’s nothing but fresh new flooring and dry wall. Guess what? Still have pantry moths!! I have never been able to find the source. Even when I threw out all of our food, I never saw any larvae or webbing. I have cleaned out ever drawer, room and closet in the entire house and put DE everywhere. I am beside myself. The only thing I can think of is maybe they are living in the insulation in our attic??

  13. Sara, I have been dealing with the same problem for over 3 years 🙁 You will see I posted several times above. We have been living out of our refrigerator for the past 3 years, as I refuse to leave any food source out, even in air sealed tupperware as I’m too afraid to risk it. I have had three different exterminators visit our home (which is an attached home in NYC) and no one can find the source, the nests, eggs, etc. Everyone is baffled. They speculate that they could be in the walls or coming from an adjacent building. It’s so frustrating. I wish I had more helpful insight to share, but know that I am in the same boat.

  14. We have them living in our attic and the exterminator has no idea why they are there. They sometimes think that mice bring in food and that attracts the moths, but we set out traps and never caught any mice. I think I’m giving up!

  15. It’s hard to believe that anyone had actually successfully gotten rid of them. I can’t imagine what else we could possibly do.

  16. In addition to the diatomaceous earth, you might want to add small cups (mini muffin papers) with a mixture of boric acid and corn meal. I got rid of the moths using both the diatomaceous earth and the boric acid.

  17. I think I finally got rid of them! The hardest part for me, was finding the source! We have been remodeling our kitchen and tore out our entire pantry and got rid of all food, but still had moths. We finally got rid of our old appliances and viola – no sign of a song one I’m any traps for 4 days!! I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think we are done. They must have been nesting in the vent to the stove or fridge or something.

  18. Sara, this is super helpful! I suppose my husband and I will now need to explore the vents of the appliances. This is so crazy.

  19. I’m definitely still looking over my shoulder, but still nothing in the traps again this morning. I hope you find the source too Lindsey. It’s so frustrating!!

  20. Does anyone have any advice for how to get behind the cabinets? We have a space between the walls and cabinets and I am sure there are some back there… can I get back there??? THANKS!

  21. I am currently living in pantry moth hell. However, I think I found the origins of the infestations…the fridge. I wanted share for those that are being driven insane, just in case. I spent 14 hours today dismantling everything and scrubbing with a sponge and toothbrush. Additionally, I have found hundreds of larvae and pupae in the dowel-rod holes in the main pantry cabinets and underneath the knobs of the cooking range. I have spent countless hours playing “operation” with needle nose computer tweezers…I can’t believe this is my life now. Happy insect stalking and killing to all!

  22. Kelly, where in the fridge did you find them? I ask because we have been living exclusively out of our fridge for over 2 years (because we think this is the only safe place for our food where these damn things can’t access), but yet we still have them. We have never seen a moth in the fridge, but I wonder if you mean that you found them nesting in an exterior area of the fridge? In regards to the cooking range, did you have to actually remove the knobs to find them? Sorry for all the questions, just trying to to gather insight anywhere I can 🙂

  23. Lindsay,

    I found eggs and pupae everywhere in the fridge. They were in every crevice and my fridge has a ton. They ended up in all of the food. When I examined everything closely, I ended up having to throw everything out. They are so much harder to see and notice in fridge foods, but I even found eggs in olive juice. I didn’t see any actual moths until the very bottom there were a few dead ones completely hidden. I had never seen a moth in there either, but the moths would have had countless hours to reek havoc in the dark. My gas range is set-in to counter and the knobs were easily removable.

  24. OH gosh, that sounds awful! So they were definitely in the interior of your refrigerator. Wow, I hope I would have noticed this by now if this was our case. Will do a full inspection when I get home.

  25. Is there any way you can use a duster to sprinkle the DE in the gaps?… Or at least around a point of entry so that it can drop on them while they’re trying to get in there?

  26. My stomach is in knots. I don’t want any food in my house right now. I heard they can even get into spices. I think I may just get rid of EVERYTHING and eat out (using coupons) for a month. Even if I have to buy a ready to eat salad in a dish at the grocery store and eat it outside of my house, I will do it. I’m upset with all the things I’m going to have to throw out. I’ve already spent so much money on traps, oils, cedar products and discarded food. This is literally going to cost me $1,000.

  27. I’m glad this worked for you. We have not been able to get rid of these moths. We’ve had these moths in our house for the past 13 years. About 10 years ago we had a house fire which completely destroyed the entire house. It took about a year to rebuild the house. Not only did the moths survive the fire, but they are still with us to this day. They must be in the foundation or something, as not even a house fire removed these moths. Removing the traps made the situation worse. So now we average about 20 pantry traps throughout the house and attic and change them on a monthly basis, usually accumulating around 30-50 moths each. Have gone through all the steps to get rid of them. Two “major” exterminator treatments yielded no results. Now we’ve just come to terms as they are here to stay. Hopefully one day once they eat through the insulation or whatever they are surviving on is gone, these moths will leave. Going to try and fumigate the whole house with this Diatomaceous Earth that you’ve suggested and see if that works.

  28. I live on a mobile home and I rip carpets up and they are coming up through my sub floors . All cupboard have a cork shelf and they have ate all varnish off , seen them eat wood , drywall . I thought I had beetle borers but it’s moths . They are in insulation underneath and coming up through wood . No one believes me I have puctures , bugs and all . It has been a living nightmare. My kids want to admit me . I have thrown away food three times . Mine is white shoulder pantry moth . I am living out totes and bags , they ate my furniture, rugs and they are infesting my cats fur . Daily my cat has eggs under him where they are eat fur and lay eggs . Loose my hair . This has been going on months . Had two exterminators here and they don’t think it nothing . Found the pupa in couch with a lot larva . New couch ate up too . I’m ready to leave my home , and everything I had my whole life . I haven’t slept , lost so much weight . Tjis is a living hell . My floors are coming through cause had some moisture from flood and they just meet surfacing out of the wood . I got hundreds pictures . All I can do is cry anymore . Haven’t seen my kids or grand child because I’m constantly cleaning and upset over this . Quit pay bills because I spent so much in this . It’s pure hell daily . Excuse my language. I never seen mine eat wood. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  29. It is hell! I’ve tried everything! I have become a “stalker” myself…arrgghgg. The fact that I have 8 very messy parrots at home sure doesn’t help. I have found these little demons in electronics, CDs, books, you name it. Omg they are have me in a psych ward! The electronic zappers don’t work do they???

  30. Just curious do any of you get delivery from Amazon or other sources, I get dog food from target and I get DD coffee from Staples. My suspicion has it they are coming in with my deliveries. I cleaned out my pantry threw out everything. Cleaned etc. and bought the traps. I was good for 4 months, not any in the traps, none flying around, etc. and then bam! They are back even in in bags that do not have food in them (I store food coloring, muffin liners etc. in baggies). I order lots from the Amazon company including storage bags (their name Solimo specifically) I wonder if they are in the bags already . Just curious if anyone else has their suspicions.

  31. Hi I have a question I keep reading stores about how bad the infestation is and how hard is to get rid of this pantry moths but I found out I had
    them after I saw a larva walking on my counter and I recalled seeing one flying around a couple moths ago so immediately I dump everything from my cabinets even cans literally I left it empty only salt , wipe down everything in my kitchen with bleach and soup sprayed peppermint oil everywhere and DE, use the moths tramps and keep my food in the fridge, avoid to buy grains and flours if I do I buy it for one use or dump the rest since then I haven’t see one in months. My question is am I so naive to think I get rid of them so easy? How 75% or more of comments online say even with all those steps moths still coming. Plus I dont understand how people dont realize of an infestation earlier I think.the key is to be persistent and dont skip any step

  32. Do you know if pantry moths eats pinecones or are attract to it because you have a picture in your website of moths and pinecones. I wonder because now is the season and I have a bunch in my house.

  33. Well i took everything out multiple times. Checked all the food and threw out anything suspicious. A few plastic plugs fell out that hold the shelves. Inside everyone was larvae. So not only check food but any hole in the pantry check with fine tweezers and remove larvae.

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