How can I get rid of what I call "pantry pest moths"?

by Ross

We have what amounts to a small infestation of pantry pest moths. We find web/cocoons in crevices, folds, can ridges, everywhere! We see tiny little white caterpillar/worms in foods like nuts, crackers, grains, chocolate, etc. We have literally tried everything and nothing seems to work. What would be ideal is something that would really attract them big time and swarm them out to it. Help!

Additionally we are also plagued with a fruit fly variety that has as a firm back shell. We have tried several drops of dish liquid in a small bowl of apple cider vinegar and that is lame as a solution. Help, does anyone know how to get rid of fruit flies?

THANK YOU very much for any input you provide. Please reply directly to and put BUGS in the subject line so we can search quickly in our spam folder for replies that get shot there.

  14 answers
  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Oct 28, 2020

    I had them a few years back. The best I could determine, they hatched from cereal. I removed everything and cleaned all surfaces, filled crevices, and threw out anything that was not in a plastic or sealed container. I found some webs inside cardboard boxes!

    Fly strips will help to capture the moths as they fly around but they are gross & sticky.

    Freeze everything for a week that you purchase in the future that is grain.

    As for fruit flies, this will work. My parents had issues until I did this for them.: You can make a fruit fly trap. Cut a plastic bottle about 2/3 of the way up. Remove the screw top lid. Squirt a little dish soap in the bottom, add 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 cup warm water (dissolve the sugar). Place the top inverted into the bottom. They will fly into the neck to get at the solution but won't be able to escape.

  • Annie Annie on Oct 28, 2020

    Hi Ross, bleach and sticky traps will help, here's a link that i hope helps

  • Had these come in dog food ordered on line. Before I knew it, there was a full blown infestation. Took me several weeks to get rid of them. Formula 409 works until you can order and receive Aunt Norma's pantry moth spray.

    You literally need to completely empty your kitchen, wash every square inch, and wash everything before placing back in cabinets. I also found in other areas of the house. And had to clean those too.

  • Sharon Sharon on Oct 29, 2020

    They make small paper Pheramone traps you put in the cupboard, it uses a sexual attractant - the pheramone instead of pesticide. Find them in the hardware or home store.

  • Mogie Mogie on Oct 29, 2020

    Everything will have to be sealed in a glass or plastic container. Any food that comes into your house in a box or not sealed in a tin can is suspect. For example, if you don't want to throw out the whole pantry, take the bag of cake mix out of the box, cut out instructions n maybe box cover. Put it in a jar until needed. If there are maggots, moths, or the powdered food looks mealy throw it out. Everything will have to be sealed until your house is cleared of the moths.

    Windex seems to kill them.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Oct 29, 2020

    OK...this can get bad!!! We had this when we first bought our home and it was awful. You have to find the source. What you really need to do is go through the entire pantry and take EVERYTHING OUT!!!!!!! It sucks, but it is the only way to get rid of them. Once you do that you have to clean and wipe down all surfaces of the pantry because you never know where there are eggs and if anything spilled on your pantry shelves or drawers(especially with kids), they could be living in that too. So go through and remove everything and look in everything. Any stuff they can get to that is in a box or bag. It's not always just flour and could be from oatmeal, any grain whatsoever and they love NUTS.

    Then go out and spend some money on some airtight containers. ALSO...find freezer space for all grains. You will have to put the grains away in the freezer for a while and cereals and pasta should be put in those airtight containers. Also, check all your cabinets....not just your pantry. Take everything out of ALL of your cabinets because the moths will lay eggs that become a wormy thing that can be found anywhere inside cabinets. That includes going through cabinets and drawers where there are just pots and pans and no food. You will see them in other places where food may have fallen behind or stuck on a pan. They will go everywhere.

    Once the source of food is gone though you will start to see it dissipate. But it will take a little while. This is such an annoyance!! I don't have this problem anymore because I just keep my grains and flours in the freezer always. Good sorry you are dealing with this!!

    For fruit flies:

    and gnats:

    I have tried many things that are ok. However, I have found the best thing they are attracted to is a SOUR BEER(the good expensive kind)!!!!!! Leave some out in a shallow cup and see them swarm! You might want to use plastic wrap with poked holes too to trap them in. When they are swarming you can also spray with hairspray but then you will have to start over with your trap. Good luck!

  • Em Em on Oct 29, 2020

    Find out the culprit that brought them in the house. Rice, pet food and cake mixes all can be the source. Remove EVERYTHING in the closet. Wipe down, check and clean ALL SURFACES, boxes, corners etc. Immedidately remove any infected product from the house. Place anything they eat in plastic containers or jars. All of my pasta, cake mixes, cereal and pet food go into containers with tight lids. If one is contaminated it will not get out of control. Add bay leaves to your shelves as a deterrent. Fruit flies have a short life but are a pain. Wash all fruit as soon as you bring it home. The vinegar works to a point but they will die off. You catch some of the fruit flies. Keep your fruit in the fruit bin of the fridge in plastic containers.

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Oct 29, 2020

    Sadly, I think you need to get rid of all your boxed food. The stuff in cans is OK. You need to very carefully vacuum everything. I think you should probably rub everything down with a bleach cleaner like Chlorox for anything that might be left behind. Good luck! We once had pantry pests in some cereal in open shelving in my kitchen. We had little worm like creatures all over the kitchen floor. Yuck!

  • With pantry moths you have to find the nest. When we had them the nest ended up being in a bag of dog treats in the back of the kitchen cupboard. Once you find the nest they can be eradicated.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Oct 31, 2020

    I dont understand question

    • Flipturn Flipturn on Oct 31, 2020

      The question is asking how to get rid of moths/insects in the pantry. They have likely come from grains (flour, oats, etc.) that were not stored properly before being packaged, or have not been stored properly in air-tight containers after bringing them into the kitchen.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Oct 31, 2020

    Hi! I would suggest an exterminator to use the right treatment. Good luck!

  • Chalking Up Success Chalking Up Success on Oct 31, 2020

    Hi Ross, the only thing I would add is that once you have gotten rid of the source of the pantry moths, and thoroughly cleaned the shelves, you should try to avoid leaving open packets and boxes of food in your pantry.  This is a really helpful post to show you how to organise your pantry:

  • Ariel Ariel on Oct 31, 2020

    I think you may need to call an exterminator. Good luck!