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. 


, , ,
159 comments to “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.

  15. Oh My Goodness…. I’m at my wits end I can absolutely not deal with these little moths the first round of cleaning my 6 wrap around shelves in my walk in pantry I saw them!!! The larvae those disgusting little maggot looking things, 4 ((FOUR) of them and one is enough to make you want to (and I did) but it’s been almost 7 months now I’ve used the diatomaceous earth I’ve been avoiding boric acid but I’m going to do it tonight are there any natural things that I can be using other than the sensual oils that I am already using. And my pantry does not only contain food it also has a lot of other products like shampoos and conditioners body wash is pens and pencils pots and pan I have a fairly big pantry so I use it to store anything and everything but mostly food please please please help me any advice would be so greatly appreciated

  16. Just sprinkle the diatomaceous earth liberally in your pantry. It can’t harm you or your family, (do not get the pool kind) and it seems to be the only viable way to get rid of these tenacious critters. It does make a mess — but as long as the powder sits there, and does not get wet, it will continue working. That’s the beauty of this — you no longer have to keep re-applying! Essential oils will have a minimal effect at this point.

  17. Like ANGELAV, I, too am at my wits end, ready to commit harey carey with these dang pantry moths, of which I/we cannot find. Did the whole take apart pantry, took it all outside, where my husband washed the wire racks completely down, being sure to get into the holes and whatnot. This was back in August of 2015. Threw out hundreds of dollars worth of food. Never found a nest, just the icky larvae crawling up the walls, of which he vacuumed up, while I went running into the night. I am so not a bug person, especially the kind that attacks my pantry. Spent hundreds of dollars on airtight storage containers, used the Aunt Norma’s spray which I thought was keeping them out of the pantry. I still can’t find them, after doing a complete painting of said pantry. My issue is I have a large pantry, but it has the wire racks for shelving, so how exactly would I put this DE down, amongst my food? Never have I seen webbing of any kind. My gosh I threw away so much stuff and have no clue where to look next. I am so upset, before this I never even heard of the dang things before. Any suggestions as to how to place this on wire shelving and where? Please help, I am going crazy. Apparently the guys, (husband and son) don’t seem to mind, nor do they help. I am disabled and need help trying to eradicate myself of these pesky moths.If only I could find them, but I can’t. I see no signs anywhere, just the moths being caught in the traps, more and more as of late. If my food is in airtight containers, what could they possibly be eating to survive and give me the go around again? You mentioned behind the fridge. Is this where they could be, as well as the warmth of the heater in my laundry room where I have also caught them in traps. My son went in to do his laundry and several came out of somewhere and flew around him, while one went into a hole by the washing machine hoses, which needs to be there, most likely to lay more eggs. I sprayed and sprayed and sprayed all to no avail. I am truly dying here and so completely stressed out to no end.
    Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. I’ll buy this stuff, but like I said we have the wire shelves and not wood shelves so I have no clue how and where to place this.
    Thank you in advance for any input you may provide. My heart is pounding and pounding every morning when I find more and more in the traps. Again, at my complete and utter wits end.
    Thank you in advance. I live in California.

  18. Jacqueline Berger, I am so sorry! And I know your pain. The diatomaceous earth does work, but the only catch is you have to be able to put up with the dust it leaves behind. Because the dust left there will eventually wipe out the population. Actually, fairly quickly. So, yes, they have probably found some nesting spot behind the washer– so I would suggest, spreading th powder behind the washer, letting it get on the hoses, the floor, and the wall. The moths and worms only need to get a minuscule amount on them for the fatal damage to be done.

    As far as your wire shelves, I would go ahead and sprinkle the wire shelving with the dust. Yes, some will fall on the floor, and that will kill any other insect that happens to wander in. But there will be some dust left on the wire shelves, and that’s just enough to touch any moths or lavare wandering around. Another suggestion is to figure out what the moth is attracted to — which is generally whole grains, flour, etc. Use a bit of that as a bait– put some in an unopened sandwich bag, to attract the moths, and sprinkle the diatomaceous earth on the outside of the bag, and inside the flour.

    Keep me posted. This will work. I promise. I noticed my moths were attracted to the wicker baskets I used to store things in my pantry, and were building nest there. I sprinkled the diatomaceous earth there too. It’s been 12 years now, and no more moths!!

  19. Hi Susie,

    Thanks a million for the article. It gives me hope. I am going to use your method, as all others failed. I would like to ask you the following: how did you, after the thorough cleanse and application of DE and boric acid powder monitor the situation? My point is that moths are so discrete, that one might not even notice their ongoing, “behind the scenes” activity. Did you use sticky traps in order to monitor the situation? Or did you just continue to clean everything in circles to see what is the status of things? Thank you so much for the feedback. Many blessings to you and your family.

  20. JACQUELINE BERGER – suggestion for you wire shelfs, place something solid on the shelfs that you can put the DE on. Maybe plastic board of some type (no cardboard since they get into them). I’m fight this now and I am using the DE, and gamma moths. BTW I found larvae in the holes in my cabinets that are used for shelves. I used a toothpick to scrape them out and put DE inside. I’m still fighting it but only started a week ago. I’m on a mission though.

  21. Victoria, I base my monitoring on whether I see moths. I did leave the DE in place for a year or so, and left it there, even though the moths seemed to vanish within a few weeks after sprinkling DE. I still have some DE in my kitchen to control ants in the spring. Once I started using DE, the moths were gone and stayed away… And that may be because I left the DE in place to kill each life cycle of the moths. Hope this helps!

  22. Hello Susie,

    Thank you so much. I will do as you suggested, as in the meantime I noticed that over-use of pheromone traps may even worsen the situation. Especially in warm weather when windows are kept open and fresh air from outside circulates all over. During evening hours and at night pheromone traps I used attracted, through the open windows without nets, moths from exterior and even attracted new type of moths. As a preventive measure, for the time being, I have stopped using them completely and have ordered nets for all my windows. I suppose pheromone traps might be great tool for more “sealed” interiors, where there is limited risk of attracting moths from the outside. Difficult to tell as each case is, no doubt, quite specific.

    Last but not least, thank you for your time, help and valuable advice. May the kindness and compassion you spread return to you manyfold!

  23. You know, Victoria, I think you’re on to something about the Pheremone traps. I used to visit my mom’s house and saw them for the first time — filled with moths, and my mom’s satisfied smile that she had “caught them.” But, every time I visited her, the quantity of moths in the traps seemed to increased, not decrease!

  24. Hi. I need help. I live with my mom and it seems like I’m alone in trying to fight these moths and larvae. Right now, its larvae. Its getting to the point where I can’t sleep. I open my eyes and there’s maggots in the wall in front of Me. It honestly depressed me. Thinking I might lose the battle and now I feel an infestation coming on. I need to convince my mom that if I buy DE, it’ll work. And hopefully she supports me. She thinks I’m crazy for setting moth traps ( she throws them out) or boiling maggots. Even putting cereal and oatmeal in fridge.

    Is DE really messy ??

    – a very worried 26 year old who is losing precious sleep lol 🙁

  25. Tomorrow will be day 3 since I began my plan of attack. Emptied my large pantry. Wiped everything down. Got rid of a lot of items not in foil packaging or cans or storage containers. Did not detect any larvae nor webs. Found about 6 moths yesterday total and about as many today. Set pheromone traps on various shelf and on the floor. Total of 4 in pantry. I have 12 shelves. Enough?? Not enough???Additionally I put one on my kitchen counter under a night light hoping the light will attract them toward the trap. Think that’s too many or not enough? If I didn’t find any larvae nor webs, are they nesting someplace else? Garage… And getting inside? Please help. I can’t stand these horrid things. My house is meticulous.

  26. It’s been about a month since I cleaned out my cabinets, washed all cans and plastic containers with vinegar and water and threw out almost everything in a box or plastic bag (grains). All spices are in the freezer, all grains are stored in the refrigerator (cookies, cereal, rice) or in glass containers and I have DE sprinkled in my pantry cabinets. I did use the traps in the cabinets where I saw the most moths. The gamma wasps I released are gone and I think the moths are also. I’ll leave it like this for about 6 months. Then I think it might be safe to move back into my cabinets. I also sprinkled bay leaves in my other cabinets as a deterrent. When I was washing tupperware containers of cereal I found a larvae under the lid. I’m only going to use glass containers. Every day for about 2-3 weeks, several times a day, I checked my cabinets. I found a moth or two for a couple of weeks. This is where I put the traps. We have seen one or two the past few weeks but I think we are close to done. I also attached a scraper to my fan cleaning tool so I could clean the walls where they meet the ceiling. So gross! We have seen one or two the past few weeks but I think we are close to done.

  27. Good day all. Three warnings and a bit of useful information to follow. I have used DE for years. We get ours at the feed store here in Texas. I buy the safe for consumption DE. Read your package it will have that statement on it, otherwise it’s for the garden only. If I use it in the food pantry or give it to the animals it must be safe for consumption. It’s natural, safe and effective when used properly and not chemically treated. ~> First caution about DE, Please, never ever use the DE for pools on anything but a pool! It is treated with heat and chemicals that make it unsafe for consuming. ~> Second caution- Don’t breath it, it is not safe to breath. Only because it can scar your lungs and cause respatory distress. Just wear a dust mask when spreading it ( I wear eye protection, who likes dust in their eyes! ) Also, Contact wearers be extra vigilant in protecting your eyes when using DE and wearing contacts. ~> Third caution- Bees and other pollinators will be damaged by DE so please keep it off the blossom of the plant so they can do their job unharmed. If you get it on something you don’t want it on just wash it off. Example : You dusted the plant and got it on the blooms, get a spray bottle filled with water and spritz the bloom gently but generously, rinsing away the dust the best you can. Otherwise DE is safe. DE / Diotomatous earth is simply the skeletal remains of diatoms which are single celled alga with a cell wall of silica, many kinds are planktonic fossils / plankton fossils. They are so small that when an insect, parasite, arachnid or other creepy crawly come in contact with it, the DE gets worked In between the plates of its exoskeleton causing cuts much like tiny bits of glass resulting in such damage to the creepy crawly it dies. Not on contact mind you but it will cause it to die. Now all that being said, it does not damage mammals the same way but it will cause trouble for their parasites. Yes, you can give DE to your dog, chicken and other livestock. Food grade only! Put the other kind on the garden and around the yard. It kills fleas too! I get it at Potts feed in Quitman, Texas. If your looking for it, it’s best to call around to your local garden center to see if they carry it or would order it for you, also you can order it online from other places and have it shipped but be aware the shipping cost will be high.
    Pros and Cons:
    Pro- *Won’t cause cancer or other chemical related illness.
    * Rinses away with water.
    * DE is a chemical free way to keep bugs at bay. (Keep in mind the natural world has a way of surviving and adapting to the chemicals that will make us ill. I think the natural world tends to be best subdued by its counter part in the natural world. )That’s why we love to use DE.
    * Can be consumed by both human and animal to rid the body of parasites. ( Proper dose necessary )
    * Safe indoors, around pets and children.
    Cons- *Not good to breath, Use caution when using it in windy areas, dust mask and eye protection needed.
    *Will damage pollinators if user is careless.
    *Needs to be reapplied after rain.
    *Won’t kill on contact, but get the job done.

  28. Thank you for this information! I don’t think I had thought to use it on plants — like the leafy Kale the Japanese Beatles are destroying!

  29. This info has been so helpful to me! I’m in the middle of my battle right now. 😳
    I’m definitely getting DE tomorrow and I plan to spritz everything with lavender essential oil.
    Question: moth balls?
    Before reading your post that is all I knew to do.
    I cleaned my pantry and wiped away what larvae I found. After reading your post….I’m sure there’s more lurking that I missed. 😩
    I then put all kinds of moth balls throughout my pantry and in other areas of my house.
    Do you know if moth balls are worthless?

  30. I would not use mothballs — and it’s not because I don’t think they wouldn’t work — they would, but the fumes are so harmful, and I wouldn’t want them around my food — or my family. Also, I don’t think the mothballs will kill the pantry moths, just deter them. The DE will eliminate the problem of pantry moths. The only downside is that you will have to put up with some messy cabinets in the process — meaning, you will need to sprinkle it around the shelves so that the moths, or larvae, will be sure to walk through the powder.

  31. After cleaning out my pantry, and killing any flying ones that I saw, I finished the eradication by putting small pieces of softener sheets throughout my kitchen cupboards I also put a live moth ne in a plastic bag with a softener sheet (and it died in 2-3 days)
    Hope this helps. It worked for me.

  32. I think the moths came in with a 16lb bag of dog food. We have had them for 4 months now, battling them since January, took me a bit to catch on. These moths are not in my pantry, no signs of infestation in any food. I discovered little cocoons in the ceiling crevices. Got the traps, which caught some. They are in our office, bedroom, dining room, bathroom. No idea on why. They prefer to hang out on the ceiling, so we use an extension duster to grind them. DE won’t work on the ceiling obviously. Where do the adults hide at night? Everyday I kill 6-10 +, seems like larger adults. Should we lay DE on top of the cupboards? Or lavender saturated cotton balls. We rent and lease is up in 2 months, srsly considering moving. Any info would be appreciated.

  33. I have used spearmint gum with the wrapper opened loosely and set on shelves in my pantry. Seems to work pretty well for deterring moths and larvae (ugh, these are so gross, especially when seen crawling on the ceiling and around light fixtures). I am in a different home now, a rental, and will use the DE for ants this summer. Enjoyed reading your blogs on different topics. New to pinterest but so hooked.

  34. Just curious after the powder applications how long did they disappear? I’m having a baby in 2 months and currently battling these disgusting creatures (we see the tiny microscopic dots moving on my black appliances and covers of spices). I’m assuming these are the things that turn into the worms!! So gross !! Thanks for all the great advice.

  35. Is the DE safe around birds? I bought bird food that I believe was infested and now they are everywhere.

  36. I tried to read all the posts, it it safe to put DE on my pantry floor and other places if there is a possibility our dog might get it on his paws? We no longer use the pantry, it is full of traps, glue paper, leaves, and every other sort of bug catching device we could find and have taken out all the shelves, removed everything from the pantry, washed and rewashed, vacuumed and they still keep coming back. I even ripped out the floor trim all through the pantry and sprayed bug spray back there. We keep all the food in the refrigerator. It’s been almost a year and this is the first time I saw this post. I’m on Amazon now buying — just want to know if my dogs happen to get any of the dust on their paws, will it harm them? Yikes. I have even considered tearing out all the sheetrock – or sell the house. I can’t tolerate these pesky moths any longer. They go through phases where we think they are all gone, and then suddenly, I catch 3 to 5 a day in the traps then..all of a sudden, they must hatch because we catch 50 or so in a day or two We seal off the pantry and if the door is closed and sealed,they are no where else in the house – just inside that space. If the DE does not work, I’m teaing out the drywall. My husband thinks I’m crazy!

  37. @Michelle, what did you do? The moths in my house hangout on the ceiling as well and on the walls. I can’t seem to find the nests.

  38. Lakisha~ Get a Swiffer or similar, with the dry pads, whenever you see a moth on the ceiling, just hit it with the Swiffer, you may end up with stains, but they wipe off easily with a wet paper towel and 409 or similar. You need to look at the crevices of your ceilings/walls, they like to make cocoons there. I never found a nest, nor found out where the adults spent their time when not on my ceiling. We have been (almost) moth free for 3 weeks now. Had 2 random ones last week. Look at your windows, behind blinds, we had some webby type material there. Just hit those suckers and don’t let them breed. Also, get a pheromone trap, it gets the males, so that is one way of reducing their numbers.

  39. Safer Pantry Pest trap – Pheromone traps seem useful – the pests multiply on their own when they establish good food sources, and I’d try not to blame the traps for their #’s. I’m sharing a tip I read once on Amazon, another customer said to put the small pheromone tab in the center of traditional flypaper /flytape (to catch alot more and hold alot better than the included glue trap). Rescue brand fly tape looks better than the orange strips – But traps and sorting don’t quite seem enough, and the DE plan sounds great. I’m wondering whether an open cup of wheat flour mixed with DE would lure them to lay eggs there? I have also read that DE around the bedposts is key for bedbug control, if you have them, or worry about getting them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *