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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70 comments on “How I Finally Got Rid of Pantry Moths!
  1. Yes. DE is safe for humans and animals. Farmers mix DE in with the feed to keep pests out of the food source.
    DE powder is not poison. It works to cut the shell of the skeleton of the insect.

  2. Yes! Safe for humans too. It works in a way that only affects insects.
    DE powder is not poison. It works to cut the shell of the skeleton of the insect.

  3. It depends upon the cycle of worms, and how many are their. But rest assured, the moths are more of a nuisance than the powder. The powder is even safe for us to eat. DE powder is not poison. It works to cut the shell of the skeleton of the insect.

  4. My husband and I have been battling pantry moths since October 2016. We have had it. One of the most frustrating tasks we’ve ever had to deal with…and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. We also have the pheromone traps and had an exterminator spray about 2 months ago. We both commented that the problem seems to have become worse since the exterminator came. Did I mention we’ve been using our refrigerator for food storage since Dec? Meaning we have left NO FOOD in our cabinets since Dec. I’ve read that if you cut off the food source they can’t survive. Feeling very helpless and will try sprinting this powder in our empty cabinets. Any additional suggestions you may have are welcome!

  5. Lindsay, you have got to get the eggs before they hatch! Look at the cracks and crevices of your ceilings, behind your blinds, and other weird places. I had several in my bathroom at times, certainly no food there. If you have animals, buy small portions of their food or go with canned. No birdseed. These moths are malevolent creatures and can break even the toughest person, but know that if you keep the eggs from hatching, you will eventually win. Get a Swiffer or similar and kill them if on the ceiling, worked great for us.

  6. Thanks for the advice! We have a swifter so I will start doing the ceilings regularly. Did you use the wet or dry sheets? In regards to the crevices – we live in an old NYC apt where the cracks and crevices are plentiful. Whether it’s a tiny space between the stove and counter top or the tiny area between the top of the cabinets and the soffit (where the exterminator sprayed) we have plenty to go around. I honestly don’t know how we could possibly examine all these areas since we can’t get to them, but will certainly try. We also found a few flying in our bathroom – however I don’t know if this means there are eggs there or if they flew in from kitchen. Is it possible that there is a larger problem in the apts below us and they are making their way into our apt? We live an old 3-family home. If there is no food around how can the larvae survive?

  7. I used the dry Swiffer, and had to change the pads frequently, ewww. If you have a ladder, just leave it out, you have to get up to inspect the areas. Our house is a few years old with plain ceilings, and we could detect anything that looked off and investigate right away and wipe it away with a Clorox wipe or paper towel. As for the pheromone traps, yes, they catch the males so that the females can’t reproduce. I asked myself many times how they survived as they never infested our pantry food, really odd. I would have to ask the neighbors if they have any infestation as well, it’ll never end if the moths are not banished to moth hell.

  8. Lindsay,

    I’ve had a similar problem with indian meal moths since March. They were originally in a guest bedroom. Cleaned the room of all nests, ripped out carpet, had an exterminator spray, pheromone traps everywhere. Now they are out of my bedroom and in my living areas. I haven’t found any cocoons lately either but definitely the adults are hatching out from somewhere! I have emptied my pantry of everything!!! I have never found a logical food source in all my cleaning out. It is so very frustrating and did I mention stressful! Please let me know if you discover a solution.

  9. Same story. We became infested with pantry moths (indian meal moths) from a bag of dog food (thank you Vons…). We threw everything- literally everything- away from our pantry which is about 120 sq. ft. This was December 2016. Pantry has been empty since then (9 months thus far) and everything is in the freezer and fridge which forces me to go food shopping every 2-3 days as I don’t have the space to store everything we consume in there. I had Clark pest control come out more times that I can count. Pesticides don’t kill the eggs, and the eggs can live up to a year.

    There is ONE THING THAT KILLS EGGS: COLD TEMPERATURES (below 45F degrees) But I live in southern California where temperatures typically don’t reach below 60F.

    I use one pheromone trap upstairs to keep track (a note about those traps- only use one at a time because the use of several is counter productive and confuses the moths. Also, the traps don’t eradicate the moths, they only kill a few males that may otherwise procreate). I haven’t found any activity in the pantry in 6 months but I am still finding the odd one flying about upstairs and occasionally in the trap. Ive catalogued their activity since the beginning and noticed an influx every 6 weeks (the lifecycle of one of these little bast**ds) and anytime we had a heat wave, particularly if there was humidity. Our house is 5,500 sq ft and for the life of me I can’t find where they are hanging out or what they are eating; whatever it is, it isn’t a food source. It must be cardboard or clothing, etc. The infestation has cost us thousands of dollars with no end in sight. I’ll try this powder if I can find any larvae, as I’ve already tried everything else. Good luck to you fellow sufferers!

  10. The internet has 2 types of the diatomaceous earth. Which is the correct one to use in your kitchen? One says food grade and the other says for bed bugs, fleas, ants etc, but I’m not sure this one is safe around food, dishes etc, What say you?

  11. Hi, I am going crazy with these little moths. I can’t seem to find any nests or webs just a bunch of moths. I will kill them all and then in 1 – 3 days they are back. I have cleaned everything. If I get this DE stuff can I sprinkle it on the carpet along the walls? They are not in my pantry at all. They started in a bag of bird seed I had in my bedroom that I had forgotten about. Please help. If I can’t do that then what should I do? This is been going on now for about 2 – 3 months and I am about to go postal. lol Thank you

  12. There are quite a few successes here in the comments — however, it does take persistence! The moth has several lifecycles that you need to cycle through before they are all eliminated. But this does work!

  13. Help is on its way! I can imagine that you are! How awful… Yes, you can sprinkle in your carpet – which is a great idea. I was so desperate to get rid of them that I sprinkled them on a mirror once — because I often found them there.
    One thing you can do is watch and see where they land– and cover those areas with DE — like maybe a light fixture on the ceiling? They are also attracted to anything “natural” such as wicker baskets — I’m sure you have removed the birdseed — but you can also mix the DE into the bird seed at no harm to the animals. In fact, farmers do this with animal feed to keep the insects out. Also, I read that sometimes DE is ingested, safe for mammals, to get rid of parasites!
    Remember also, that the lifecycle of the moths can last for several months — so it may take up to 6 months to a year before the moths are completely gone. But they will eventually cycle out as long as the DE is available.

  14. Hi everyone – I posted back in July and just wanted to share an update that we are still battling these things. We had an exterminator come out and he was unable to locate the source of the eggs/nest, so he was unable to treat the apt. Has anyone else experienced this? He also examined the apt below us, but they haven’t seen any moths, nor did the exterminator find signs of anything in their apt. We are still living exclusively out of our refrigerator and freezer, as we’ve been doing since last winter. I purchased DE and have sprinkled it in the corners of the cabinets. Does anyone have any additional advice, particularly if you have never been able to locate any nests or eggs? Has anyone located them in their closet feasting off their clothes/fabric? Does this actually happen? I had one exterminator tell me they will eat anything down to toilet paper. Feeling as helpless as I did back in July, Any insight, tips, etc. are welcome!!

  15. We had moths in our home for over 2 years. It was brought in with bird seed and it was horrible! I read this post and I purchased food grade de from a hardware store. I threw out most of our packaged food because sometimes they weren’t in the food but I could see the webbing in the folds of the package. I washed out the cupboards and killed larvae on the tiny holes the shelves go in, yuck, that was disgusting! I then dusted the de in the cupboards, on top of cupboards, and in the bird cages. It’s been 4 months, I killed 2 moths the first week after dusting the de, and I have not seen any since! Here’s hoping, and I’m leaving the powder where I dusted it! My birds have had no ill effects! Good luck all of you! I should add the de I bought says food chemical codex grade, and it’s only listed as safe for animals.

  16. What method has everyone used for applying the DE? For example, do u sprinkle (think salt shaker) all over kitchen cabinet shelves? Do u apply more to the corners? Should I expect to actually see dead moths on the sprinkled DE or do they normally make contact with it and die elsewhere?

  17. Great blog! The Indian Meal Moth not to be confused with the Mediterranean flour mouth, both species infest flour. Large amounts of “webbing” is visible with larvae actively feeding as well as small, reddish gray moths. Adult Indian Meal mouth has 4 wings with a wingspan of 3/4″. The forewings are gray near the body and reddish near the tip. The head and thorax are reddish.

    Mediterranean flour moth has four pale gray wings with a wingspread of 3/4″ The front wings have wavy lines.

    John (Bug Man)
    First Response Pest Control

  18. Any way that works! I do like your salt shaker idea…. I will try that next time I have fruit flies. (It works great for fruit flies.) As far as “evidence” . It does not kill on contact — I don’t know exactly how long it does take, but you may start to see dried moths in corners, on the floor — kind of shriveled. When I use it on ants etc., I often find them in corners all shriveled up — like they have been dried out.

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