Asked on Jul 09, 2016

How to get rid of pantry moths

Larry L Wagner
by Larry L Wagner
Can someone tell me how to get rid of pantry moths? They turn into maggots.
  28 answers
  • Lisa Williams Lisa Williams on Jul 09, 2016
    You can buy pantry moth traps.... they are pheromone based so it is recommended to only use one so as not to confuse the moths.... I put Camphor Root blocks in my pantry and haven't seen any since. It's likely they were in some food you bought... check rice, flour, noodles, any kind of pastas, etc. you'll see clumpy granules and webbing where they have laid eggs and such. You'll need to throw those out away from the house and wipe out your pantry shelves with vinegar... I also use essential oils like peppermint and lemon to clean. I have read that eucalyptus and lavendar can be used as well. Some things you can do to prevent it in the future: Freeze dry goods for 4 days, put dry goods into sealed glass containers so if there is a problem, they're isolated.
  • Sandy Sandy on Jul 09, 2016
    Anything that is of a flour base will have to be put into plastic containers with lids or glass jars with lids. Bay leaves placed on the pantry shelves seem to work, also.
  • William William on Jul 09, 2016
    You have it backwards. Moths do not turn into maggots. They start out as maggots and turn into moths. The moths are laying eggs that hatch into maggots, then moths. All good solutions. You can also try scattering cedar blocks on the shelves.
  • Susan Bishop Susan Bishop on Jul 09, 2016
    The citronella candles you use on the patio to deter bugs are the key, but you can't burn candles when you're not right there to watch them. However, the candles' secret is that they contain citronella oil. You can buy the oil at craft stores. Take cotton balls and put 1 or 2 drops of the citronella oil on each one. Tuck one ball into each of the back corners of your cupboard shelves and put one into each back corner of every drawer. The odor will be strongish, but it's not offensive to humans. My daughter lives in Southern California near the beach and had constant war with fruit flies, flour moths, and silverfish. After the citronella oil treatment, she is now bug free. Refresh the cotton balls about every 3 months. Easy, peasy. Trust me.
  • S N Foster S N Foster on Jul 09, 2016
    In addition to the above, throw out everything in your pantry that is not sealed properly and restock your shelves. It's impossible to know what is infested.
  • Dharrisc Dharrisc on Jul 09, 2016
    even things that are *sealed properly* from the store, if you look closely, have this dang moth infestation ... i got rid of EVERYTHING in a box, in a bag, unopened or otherwise -- we started over .... after getting rid of the products, i *bleach washed* the cabinets ... thank goodness we were free of them for the next 10 years until we moved out .... yep, throw it all away ... bags of flour, too ...
  • Susann Susann on Jul 09, 2016
    I agree with Dharrisc ! We had these 2 years ago and found the "nest" of them in our oatmeal ! I spent a day throwing everything out . Warm , soapy Dawn and bleach to all the cabinets and store your flour, cornmeal , sugar in air tight containers or zip lock bags! I haven't seen any more moths! Good luck!
    • Dharrisc Dharrisc on Jul 10, 2016
      we found them everywhere, including in the sealed packages of *rice-a-roni* / cake mixes / flour bags / in the cupboard itself ... for a time we moved our food products to a storage room outide of our main home ... we were safe and never saw another one ... i think they might have been called *meal moths* or something like that ...
  • Lynnette Lynnette on Jul 09, 2016
    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.
    • See 1 previous
    • Audrey Audrey on Jul 10, 2016
      I had a huge problem with pantry moths and bay leaves have been the biggest help after cleaning I think. I have them taped to my cubbards everywhere.
  • Kathleen Kathleen on Jul 10, 2016
    In addition to all the measures mentioned, I will add the FUN one! Luckily, we finally figured out that the moths were in a can of bird food my husband stored in the garage near the door to the house. I had hunted and sealed and cleaned, and still we would see several a day (they were sneaking in when the door was opened). The tip I read said Windex killed them! And it worked! I filled two small misting bottles with Windex, and hunted them down with a vengeance! I worry that I enjoyed the "thrill of the kill" a bit too much!!
  • Vicki Vicki on Jul 10, 2016
    After you have removed the moths from your pantry, freeze every flour based item that you bring into your home. This will kill anything already in the food prior to your purchase. Then either store in the original container or transfer into your other storage containers. If you have properly cleaned and removed the moths, you really won't need to transfer.
  • Kathleen Conlon Sieber Kathleen Conlon Sieber on Jul 10, 2016
    My sister who lived in Arkansas kept most everything in her freezer rather than in the pantry especially in the summer. They had to have larger freezers but at least they didn't have those awful bugs.
  • Nita Reddy Nita Reddy on Jul 10, 2016
    Prevention after you get rid of them--DO NOT BRING BIRD SEED INTO THE HOUSE! My husband designs packaging for a seed company and gets frequent shipments of seed. They almost ALWAYS hatch moths eventually, and the cycle begins. Yuck. Nothing like measuring out rice and seeing it start to squirm. Best of luck to you!
    • See 1 previous
    • Audrey Audrey on Jul 10, 2016
      We had moths all over our garage one summer and couldn't figure out why, sure enough it was the bird seed. I will never bring that stuff into my house, it creeps me out.
  • Barbara C Barbara C on Jul 10, 2016
    Go thru and get rid of everything old in your storage area.Destroy all containers that do not seal tight.Every new thing that has been opened must be sealed tight.Immediately clean up spills.Keep everything clean.
  • Audrey Audrey on Jul 10, 2016
    I had them and it was the biggest nightmare of my life. Let me start off by saying get ready for the biggest clean of your life. First you have you have to find the main web/infestation. It will look look a silky thick spider web with lots of moth carcasses in it. Mine was underneath our cabnit. Then throw out anything thing that's open or had moth webbing/carcus on it. Open unopened boxes of food bc they will make their way through the box and inspect the packaging and wipe it down with bleach water. I just threw away all food in the pantry unopened or not and started over. If you pantry has holes on the side to ajust shelving levels you have to clean you ever hole with a toothpick, I found that was a major hidding place. Make sure you get into every nook and cranny where shelves meet, use a flashlight. ( I used hot water with borax and bleach). Get on top of the cubbards in the ceiling and wall crevasse, behind pictures, in light fixtures those sucker are everywhere. Then after everything is clean tape bay leaves to inside all cubbards (they hate the smell) seal flours, sugars and baking supply's in plastic bags or buy the air tight canisters and put bay leaves in those too. Buy pantry moth for shelves, you can buy at hardware stores or most grocery stores. It's like a sticky cardboard that releases their pheromones and they fly into and get stuck. But it will let you know if you still have any. And don't be surprised if you find one or two in the trap even after all that cleaning, those things are the devil. Good luck and God bless. I feel your pain but I can tell you I've never had a problem with them again, but still have nightmares.
    • Warren A Steele Sr Warren A Steele Sr on Jul 10, 2016
      Amen to above. We had to take every ting out, check all the card board packaging and restore it in sealed plastic containers. Bought Pantry moth traps at a big box store to put on shelves, and put all the things back in. We threw away a lot of cereal, meal, flour, etec.
  • Carol Ann Bateman Carol Ann Bateman on Jul 10, 2016
    Put Double Mint ( or any mint flavored gum) in various places in the cupboards. I've even put the gum inside the packaging the food comes in, it is harmless and adds a pleasant smell. You need to replace the gum sticks occasionally when the mint smell lessens.
    • Chrissy Chrissy on Jul 11, 2016
      Also, top shelf: lavender, rosemary, anything minty and scented from FOOD source part of your garden.
  • Laura Glass Laura Glass on Jul 10, 2016
    Hang a moth proofing cake in the pantry, you can usually get them in the Dollar Tree store.
  • Larry L Wagner Larry L Wagner on Jul 10, 2016
    I have not tried any of the great responses yet. I asked for my mother and have to get her all of these answers. I want to thank you for all the great ideas you have given and will try to tell you which one she did. Thanks again to you all.
  • Francisco37388 Francisco37388 on Jul 10, 2016
    The first thing I do when I get home with flour, sugar, pancake mix, or anything in a box - I put it in the freezer for several days. That will kill anything that is alive and waiting inside the box. Then before I put the product on my shelf, I put it inside a gallon size Ziploc plastic bag. That will keep out any new infestations. I store some things inside the refrigerator as well.
  • Marilyn Zaruba Marilyn Zaruba on Jul 10, 2016
    I would tear everything out of that pantry...even the shelves if possible and disinfect them. If you can't take out the shelves, caulk every crack and opening...even any knotholes. Then throw anything open away. Once I open anything, I transfer the contents to plastic containers and mark the contents. This way, if something does appear, you can throw it away. Critters can come in from the store. I buy a lot at ethnic markets so I want to be very careful.
    • Dharrisc Dharrisc on Jul 11, 2016
      please check the so-called *unopened* boxes .. i cleaned it all, then discovered the cake mixes, still sealed in their box, were totally infested with that dang moth ... i saw in one box, and threw the rest away without opening ... CHECK EVERY SEALED BOX, TOO ... they hide ... i found a box with web-like *strings* in it ... mabe making a cocoon??? who knows ... thanks goodness i was able to rid our place of them ... my hubbs said his daughters lived there before we got married and were not the *cleanest* ... to say the least and be polite!!!
  • Peggy Fost Peggy Fost on Jul 11, 2016
    Put some bay leaves on the shelves
  • Judy Hinton Hogg Judy Hinton Hogg on Jul 11, 2016
    These things can invade your house and get into everything not just grain products. They will nest in plastics, under jar rings and in unopened packages. The start flying around at night. I had a flashlight and a can of bug spray and went all over the house looking for them on the ceiling. About the only sure treatment is to get a moth trap from the hardware store. I used about four because my infestation was so bad. You may need to change the traps over a period of time. Don't overlook dry pet food and nuts. I actually purged my pantry of all grain products and them put new ones in tightly sealed containers. The moth traps are not expensive and it will take some time but I found this to be the only way to truly rid my house.
  • Kevin D Vance Kevin D Vance on Jul 11, 2016
    We were told by a friend to cut up a dogs flea and place in the corners and back of cabinet it worked for us.
  • Limbo Forest Limbo Forest on Jul 11, 2016
    Good luck! It took me 4 years to get rid of them. I opened a large bag of bird seed I had just purchased and out flew (it seemed) a hundred of them. I read up on them and found they impregnate each other right after birth. Lay several eggs each, and just keep going. They bored into sealed boxes of food, got into everything. I sprayed them with soap and water and killed them but there is so many it was impossible. Like others said dump food. NOT CLOSE to homes. They will breed outside and hang around. Getting into your house every time you open the door. I got several "pantry moth" traps, from Home Depot (which is also where I got the bird seed) Irony or moneymaker (Hmmm !) anyway. they caught a lot. but every night for 4 years I walked around the house at night spraying walls, ceilings, door jams. Every place one was sleeping. Finally they are gone (knock on wood)
  • Limbo Forest Limbo Forest on Jul 11, 2016
    PS. I have a 3080 sq foot house, but after 4 yrs decided to go room by room, strip each and search for breeding grounds. We found eggs (maggots) behind floorboards and behind built in cabinets (just enough space to lay) That's why it took so long to get rid of them. AND yes we did bug bomb but a house the size of ours took forever to re-clean, wash EVERYTHING and disinfect after the bombing. The bombs still missed those 2 breeding areas.
  • Patricia Hagan Patricia Hagan on Jul 13, 2016
    You can order moth traps online, not expensive, and they work
  • Judy Gordon Judy Gordon on Jul 15, 2016
    My youngest son worked for a pest control guy when he was in high school. Maggots are worm like, and smell like rotten meat. You shouldn't have to search for them, just smell them out. Be sure what kind of bug you have so that you get the correct spray to eliminate them.
  • Larry L Wagner Larry L Wagner on Jul 19, 2016
    Thank you all for the overwhelming amount of answers. This is why I like this app. I have had answers as far away as Ireland. Who would've thought. Even pest bring Countries together, heck even the Governmentsmallest can not do once again thanks to all that helped and gave their advice,
  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Sep 17, 2020

    Hi larry, we had an infestation of them last year. So frustrating and had to throw everything that wasn’t canned or in a sealed container out and completely clean and wipe every surface. We also bought sticky moth traps. Apparently, they have some kind of pheromone inside that attracts the moths and then they get stuck. We’ve also hung bay leaves in our pantry (my Mom’s advice) and that seems to work. They haven’t been back this year.