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.
Boric Acid and Diatomaceous Earth effectively get into those nooks and crannies where the pantry moth lays their eggs. 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 mixÂ Diatomaceous EarthÂ 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 seeÂ 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 thatÂ Â Boric AcidÂ orÂ Diatomaceous EarthÂ around those clean cupboards. I know… all that work you did of cleaning. Â 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:Â Pantry Moths are exactly why God inventedÂ 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.Â DEÂ kills the insects when they come in contact with it. To insects,Â DEÂ 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 eggsÂ 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.
TheÂ 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.Â
We originally found them in an old silk rug (rolled up and brought in from storage). We had no idea, and left it sitting in a corner of the lounge for a few months till we got organised and moved furniture and unrolled it.
Oh boy, we were in for a shock! So many holes eaten in the rug, especially the underside where the silk was woven through the webbing framework. Their casings, grubs and moth bodies and live moths were the evidence. Needless to say our house is now infested, no crevice is safe. They love natural fibres (ahem, silk) warmth and dampness. Once they get moving those grubs will cocoon themselves in any nearby miniscule crack. It’s just coming on Spring here in Oz, meaning warmer weather so they are really upping the numbers game. We have used surface spray and fly spray (my husband was hugely disappointed to observe that the overly-liberally-applied sprays had very little effect on the flying moths, at least in the short term, a hard pillow or tea towel was more effective and had less of us choking and sneezing), brooms to rub the walls and ceiling corners for cocoons, vacuuming over and over for eggs in all the carpeting, moth traps, games where you win 10 dollars for each genuine flying kill and the evidence is clear (we win from each other so have to keep tabs), scrubbing, washing, annihilating the pantry ( I taped over all those little shelf holder hidey holes), laying in wait to see where they emerge from next. They are literally all over the house. Under table and chair corners, window frames, in the back of the leather couches (yum, leather). The dogs are bored with them and if they land in the fish tank even the fish aren’t interested any more (found some in the fish food too). There are many sources of food and pantry items are only one of them. We are almost on top of them but are aware it only takes one….
Still mourning that eye-wateringly expensive silk rug devastation, but at least we haven’t spent any more money on the moths aside from the traps and and bit of almost useless spray in the beginning. I squash and murder each one I see and the pantry seems static with very little in it and no more moths. I might look into the boric acid thing for those hard to reach places. It would be nice to have an insecticide that’s safer than surface spray and hopefully more effective. Earth from diatoms doesn’t really grab me, 😀 Good luck all…
Another suggestion: Scrub the pantry, then paint it. Fill every hole and crack. It worked for us!
The diatomaceous earth is really the very best thing in the world and does have so many more uses than just getting rid of pantry moths. I have been dealing with them for a few months now. I have it all almost totally under control,I’m not seeing any in the last sticky traps I put out however they have made me paranoid now. I cannot believe that the most effective and safe thing to kill them is diatomaceous earth. Which I have a huge bag if. I put a spoonful of it in my coffee every morning…NOT the pool diatomaceous earth,,,the very healthy safe kind. It helped me clean a bit of a flea problem and also ant problem. I am safe and secure knowing thanks to this article I found the cure for them. Go to food grade diatomaceous earth to look at all the amazing testimonials from people that it has helped. I swear by it
I had to come back and leave a comment, because after so much time and money – this finally worked! We had exterminators come out, I cleaned my house top to bottom so many times, and nothing worked! After reading this, I got rid of the traps, cleaned my pantry again and used the DE. I wore rubber gloves and a face mask due to some of the comments about the dangers of breathing it in. It’s been nine months of moth-free living! I worried they might return after the cold months, but we are still clear. I am so thankful for this post and highly recommend her suggestions.
We’ve battled pantry moths for five or six years & I’ve tried & done everything I can think of, like everyone else on here. They started in our kitchen cabinet in a bag of rice. Cabinet is clear now as we quit storing any grains, etc., but for the last three-four years they’ve come from our fireplace. Gone in winter & back in summer with hot weather. I’m going to throw out all the traps & get the Killigan traps, the boric acid & corn meal & ortho home defense (?) spray as those are the only things I haven’t tried. Last summer I even covered the fireplace opening into the den with thick plastic & taped it off. That did help some but did not get rid of them. It was also quite attractive. I’ll be checking back. Thanks for new tips. They are truly moths from hell.
I too have been battling the moths – both pantry and clothing. I noticed them last year during Covid. I spent lots of $$ on exterminators with no success. I hired a contractor to fix any and every crack I could find. They are back in numbers this summer – all coming in through my fireplace. I get at least 30-50 a day. I had a chimney sweeper say cleaning won’t help but I have to believe there is a birds nest or something up there. My husband thought I was crazy but after putting 5-6 Killians traps in there at 1 time – they were all filled within a few days. And a mix of clothing and indian meal moths. I haven’t seen more than 1 flyiing around the house and have traps in other places of the house but it all seems to be coming from the chimney. I am thinking of getting a complete gas insert to seal off the outside completely and hoping this will eliminate most of the problem. Has anyone had success with Chimney issues? Thanks.
Thanks so much for posting this!! I’ve had them off and on for years, but this year there has been an absolute explosion of them… and the worst part of it is that my laundry area is across from my pantry area in the kitchen, and these little buggers are laying their eggs IN MY CLOTHES – I’ve either gone to put something on or put things away and seen fuzzy little webbing… then saw larvae crawling around on my clothes!!! How disgusting!!! So, it is ON, and I am determined to take these guys down!! I am also seeing their little webs at the top of my walls where they meet the ceiling all over the place. I used to be able to reach them to clean them off, but now it’s a bit more problematic. I’ll figure it out, though!!
Thanks again for posting this!! What a life saver!! =)
We have had them in our fireplace also! Awful! I couldn’t see where they were I could only see them coming out at night with a light on. We were doing a remodel on our home and were painting around the fireplace. The fireplace was tapped off from the rest of the room and plastic taped around the fireplace. I decided to cut two holes in the plastic and then I put in two bug bombs. The ones that are foggers that you are able to get at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot. I set off the bug bomb foggers and quickly taped up the holes in the plastic with painters tape. The fireplace was pretty much sealed. None of the gasses from the bombs were coming into the rest of the room. The bug bomb box says to leave the area that has been bombed for at least two hours. I left the plastic on the fireplace for about 5 days. I didn’t not want those annoying pantry moths to survive. Usually I feel like the bug bombs don’t work on the pantry moths, maybe because it might kill the moths but nothing the eggs or larve, anyway… it worked!!! I couldn’t believe it. The plastic worked great and we no longer have them in our fireplace. I hope this is useful to others. Thanks.
Your post was very helpful and we followed all of your tips. We purchased a home that was infested. It was almost 2 months in before we figured it out.
For anyone who keeps seeing them and doesn’t know where the food source is coming from–check your attic!
It turns out a squirrel had nested in our attic area over the kitchen, had likely brought in nuts, which kept the moths very happy in the attic, then the larvae would travel down through our light fixtures and ceiling access lid.
We had the exterminator set off a bomb in the attic which helped slow everything greatly. Between that, your cleaning and DE tips –and also the traps, we are now a month without a single new moth.
Fingers crossed. The traps really have helped because it gets the moths before they reproduce- but really this worked only after the attic bug bomb. There were so many before it was probably easy for them to make before they found their way to the traps.
We have the traps in every single cabinet, attic area, and garage. I did a count every week to check the progress- and will continue. We have kept every single food item that’s not in glass or metal-in the refrigerator. It’s been 8 months living like this.
I think we will wait another 4 weeks before we store our food in a cabinet- in glass jars of course. We also will only use one big new cabinet for our food.
It’s an IKEA cabinet, so no hidden places in there compared to our cruddy site-built builder cabinets with 1000 crevasses for these guys to hide. If one get’s in, we will see it quickly enough and can deal with it.
About 35 years ago, I lived in a two-bedroom duplex.
It came with roaches my husband and I found out later. Our landlord had the place sprayed but after the third try, I was moving out.
His last try was an exterminator, who said the roaches would be gone in a week, he had a powder that would kill them almost immediately.
We were skeptical but agreed. In one week they were gone as he said! He used BORIC ACID, He threw it on everything (we weren’t happy about that) but it worked and we did not have to move.
Now we have food moths and I am sure I bought those horrid things from the store. I have spent so much money on spray and traps, and it has gotten worse. They have reeked havoc in my home.
TODAY I am getting boric acid for the tight places and Diatomaceous Earth everywhere else. They are literally everywhere.
Please wish me luck! I will keep you posted!!
Susiej you are a Godsend! God bless you for your valueable information!!!
When I first moved into my aunts 2nd apartment I am sure nothing was here. I believe I brought them from school as I see them there. Of course the store is also an option. First found them in pantry box of cereal and I thought I got rid of them then. Now they are in the attic. No exterminators can find where they are nesting. My great Aunt used to store food in the attic at the bottom of the stairs for years so I’ll start the DE there. Nothing any of the exterminators do fully solves the problem. We are in the dead middle of summer and they are making a come back in there. I feel the exterminators are a waste of $$. My aunt wants to get new windows installed in the attic. I’m worried they will come infest my apartment b/c the workers will leave the door open or come in and out. I really wish I could find where they are nesting and be done with this. It’s been 7 years.