Asked on Feb 23, 2016

What to do about pantry moths??

by Sally
I have an old wooden phone booth that serves as a pantry for snacks, and dog food. I recently removed and inspected all packaging for clues. I found what appeared to be a nest and cleaned the bag. I also cleaned the plastic cart that I store items on. I vacuumed out the phone booth as well. This did not cure the problem. Next, I removed everything from the phone booth and am now storing all the food in a rubbermaid container while keeping the phone booth closed. After two days it appears that I still have moths coming from the phone booth, at least, when you open it one or two still flies out. Does anyone have any suggestions to attack and destroy the moths to prevent them from reproducing? I have not tried moth balls as I'm not sure this is that type of moth.
  48 answers
  • Ann Ann on Feb 23, 2016
    I had this problem. Their eggs come from boxed foods. Pasta, cereal, etc. if you look in one of the food bags, you'll probably see what looks like a web of sorts. Usually food bits hanging. Only way I got rid of them was to toss everything bagged and boxed. I bleached the cabinet every day for a week. Nothing since
  • Kathryn Peltier Kathryn Peltier on Feb 23, 2016
    First of all, if you have shelf paper, you have to replace it because the weevils can live under it. Also, since you vacuumed, make sure you empty the vacuum outside so that the weevils can't re-infest. I have had these in my pantry a couple of times. They are in ALL flour, but will only hatch if the flour is not used quickly enough. I now bring my flour home and put it in the freezer (in a freezer bag) for 4-5 days. The cold will kill the weevils. Bay leaves in the flour will also help, as does putting the flour in a plastic container. I have washed out my pantry with bleach water, and that has always seemed to do the trick (just make sure you've thrown out - as in outside - everything else that could be infested, even if it looks sealed, like muffin mix, pancake mix, etc.)
  • Barb Rosen Barb Rosen on Feb 23, 2016
    Looks like Indian Meal Moths to me. They need an aggressive approach for sure! Here's some information that I hope will help you.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 23, 2016
    They are a pantry moth of some kind. solution make sure you seal everything in containers or plastic bags. There is a product from safer which is a paper trap for the pantry to aid in the control of these pantry pests. I suggest you clean out everything with vinegar and water and go from there.
  • Lyn2398900 Lyn2398900 on Feb 23, 2016
    Had the same problem. Hope I've conquered it! Do what they say and clean everything, check each box, even UNOPENED! Then I just found Dr. Killigans Pantry Moth Traps on Amazon. Put one up and even tho I didn't see any moths, one then two circled around the trap and went in. Took about 2 to 3 minutes. Am not kidding. I got the 6 in a box to try.
  • Suzi Wollman Suzi Wollman on Feb 23, 2016
    We had to toss everything that was boxed and even food stored in plastic containers. Completely cleaned out the pantry and set a bug bomb off in it. Then we thoroughly cleaned the pantry and now store everything in glass containers. No more moths.
  • I fought those pantry moths for 9 months! The only thing that truly worked was the sticky moth traps-pyramids you get at Home depot or Lowes. Obviously you have to clean out everything, check all you packages for larvae, and vacuum and wipe everything. I just threw out anything that was opened (even an unopened bag of rice got thrown because I saw larvae in it!! ewww) Get containers for everything or just hold off getting new pantry items until you get rid of them. Get about 5-6 of those traps and set them up in the pantry or where ever else you see them. It attracts them and they get stuck. In the first two weeks my traps were covered in them! Throw them out and get new ones. Little by little they went away. haven't had any problems since.
  • Trish Trish on Feb 24, 2016
    One year we had the same deal. The problem is that the moth larvae is often in the dog food or the packaging. If you see moths flying around dog food in store, don't buy it there.We had to store dog food in garage or outdoors in metal garbage cans.The moths definitely will get into your food if you store the dog food near it. You have to get rid of everything and get the traps and don't bring the dogfood into the house.
  • Sde4121165 Sde4121165 on Feb 24, 2016
    Keep opened jars of bay leaves on each shelf. They hate bay leaves and fresh herbs. The traps work, but if eggs or larvae are still left behind then the cycle begins all over again. Check every single bag- even unopened ones.
  • Mkm382854 Mkm382854 on Feb 24, 2016
    I battled them for 6 months. They continuously reproduce. You must throw out just about everything you had stored in your pantry, they esp like flour, cereal, rice. Plastic bagging of items do no good, everything must be seal airtight. Moth traps needed not just in your pantry, but also in roos adjacent to that area. It takes a long time to get rid of them.
  • Betsy Frahm Betsy Frahm on Feb 24, 2016
    Had them too. The pest control company told me that since the FDA allows a certain amount of larvae in our food, like cereals, crackers and the like, he said when you bring home food from the store, put all boxes of cereal, crackers, cookies etc. into the freezer for 15 minutes. No more. The food won't freeze but all the larvae will be dead. They cannot handle the freezing temps. I've had no problem since.
  • P.chatty P.chatty on Feb 24, 2016
    Apple cider vinger seems to have worked for me,put a little jar open in their, or try wipping it down with it, they hate the smell or worse on their feet
  • Orlena Orlena on Feb 24, 2016
    I use a NO Pest Strip hanging in the back of my pantry. I get them at Walmart. This keeps them out of my pantry. They hate it.
  • JeDonne M JeDonne M on Feb 24, 2016
    Bay leaves work great. I store my various types of flour in plastic containers and then stick a couple bay leaves in each one. I haven't had moth issues for years.....knock on wood..........
  • Jeanne Jeanne on Feb 24, 2016
    Whole cloves sprinkled on shelves solved the problem for me.
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  • Val Milton Val Milton on Feb 24, 2016
    Lowe's sells cedar in squares or strips. I'm not sure if they will killed but they'll leave your phone booth alone almost immediately. Good luck
  • Ann Ann on Feb 24, 2016
    I made strong bay leaf tea and sprayed my kitchen daily until they were gone and now spray once a week.
  • Heather Heather on Feb 24, 2016
    Also put all your flour/baking mix in the freezer for a couple days, when you buy new, put those in the freezer before you put them in the pantry. This should kill any eggs/larva.
  • Maryellen Maryellen on Feb 24, 2016
    I don't use the bay leaf tea, but I do have clusters of bay leaves hanging all around in my pantry; especially concentrated in the areas where I store grains and baking supplies. In addition to grains, these moths LOVE chocolate! They will ruin baking supplies if they can get to them. I, too, have a dog and dog food is notorious for carrying these moths. If you've ever been to a feed store they're flying all around it. I see you're in IL, so you have some of the same weather I do in OH. Try to buy dog food when it's very cold or really hot and leave it in your trunk for a couple of days before bringing it in the house. Then put your smaller things like flour, and any other grain that's in paper, in the freezer for 48 hours. I order bay leaves from The San Francisco Herb Co. ( You can get quite a large bag for the same price you pay for a little can at the grocery store. They are also much more pungent, which is what you're looking for! Good Luck!
  • Terry Terry on Feb 24, 2016
    I had them in Georgia. I emptied the pantry...probably came in on cornmeal or petfood. I threw out all food...they can be there and you can't see them. I vaccumed and washed daily for a couple of weeks. I did use bay leafs and insect spray for kitchens as well. Finally they were gone.
  • Mary Wilson Mary Wilson on Feb 24, 2016
    I had that same problem, they were in the dog food, then they hatched. Into green worms. They were everywhere, and I hate worms, get rid of the dog food and your problem should go away.
  • Bluemyrtle45 Bluemyrtle45 on Feb 24, 2016
    Bay leaves are good. Keep everything in plastic containers like you are doing. Vacuum especially where the wood joins. Return anything that causes the problem and get a refund.
  • Emily Emily on Feb 24, 2016
    Pantry moths are very difficult to get rid of. Put all flours/grains etc in the freezer for a while. Wash all the interiors and, get hanging things to catch the moths from the hardware store. Store all grains/flours in plastic containers but first put them in the freezer to kill any that are in those items.
  • Lana Booher Lana Booher on Feb 24, 2016
    I use bay leaves with great success also seal things up, they are persistant & you need to inspect things that may be in your pantry for awhile. I've heard that spraying & wiping down with water & a little bit of Dawn dish soap will repel insects, haven't tried yet but plan to
  • Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz on Feb 24, 2016
    I also had this problem, wiped everything down with white vinegar then put bay leaf or two on every shelf. I still keep everything in plastic container (remove from original packaging and discard out side right away), and haven't had them after doing this a few time. Best of luck, there are hard to get rid of, takes time and patience.
  • Cherie Cherie on Feb 24, 2016
    I don't have moths, but have those little tiny bugs that get into grains and everything! I don't even know what they're called! But almost all my goods are in plastic of one kind or another. I just don't know what to do for these bugs! I have bay leaves on every shelf and cinnamon is sprinkled around too. Any ideas?
  • Sue Sanders Sue Sanders on Feb 24, 2016
    If you have weevils or moths I would first get rid of all the grains and flour products and start over. All my items are in big storage containers and I have not had any problems with those pests. My Mother was storing her flour and grain products in their sacks and she got the weevils. I threw everything out and thoroughly cleaned her shelves out then washed and dried them. We then bought new items and stored in snug glass containers and some in the plastic containers and all was well. It is good to use the bay leaf in the flour container if you arent going to use quickly. I remove all rice, cornmeal, Cream of Wheat, etc from their boxes and store in snug containers. I put labels on the front and name the item and the method for cooking. Also do this for the instant potatoes and crackers.
  • Kathryn Peltier Kathryn Peltier on Feb 24, 2016
    No, I'm quite sure we're talking about the same thing. I'm not talking about Boll Weevils - which feed on cotton - but rather Flour Weevils/Flour Moths/Flour Beetles: just different names for the same thing. A weevil is a kind of beetle. They are in ALL flour and will hatch if left long enough. That's why you have to make sure there is nothing left - like shelf paper or other products - where they can hide or lay eggs. Otherwise, they'll be back.
    • See 2 previous
    • Kathryn Peltier Kathryn Peltier on Feb 24, 2016
      @Beth H. Makemeprettyagain.blogspot Ooops, sorry, you are right. Some weevils do fly, though, but these are moths. Treatment is the same, though.
  • Jack Jack on Feb 24, 2016
    Bob Vila's site has a great solution that worked for me:
  • Cora Brazell Cora Brazell on Feb 24, 2016
    I keep grits, cornmeal, etc in refrigerator. There are moth traps you can find at a hardware store. They work well. I have had to toss a lot of stuff. You just need to keep everything you can in tight containers and also the bay leaves are helpful. I also fly swat everyone I see occasionally. Good luck
  • Jac K Jac K on Feb 24, 2016
    Toss out things that have only small amounts of food in them. Everything else needs to go into the freezer for 7 days, then put into hard plastic or glass containers. Those bugs can drill through a plastic bag. I cleaned out my cupboard and, when it was dry, sprinkled boric acid powder and made sure some of that got into every tiny crevice. I have only seen them in new stuff since---which I had contained in glass jars, so that stuff went out. I have mostly organic foods and the pantry moths would thrive on that if I let them,
  • Kimberly Cook Kimberly Cook on Feb 25, 2016
    I had this same problem when we bought our house 15 years ago. I tried cleaning out ,etc. Someone, I think my mom told me about a very simple way to totally get rid of them, I have never seen them again! Go to the store, pick up a inexpensive dog flea collers, get one for each cabinet or one per cabinet case. Follow the directions on the box, and leave in the cabinet for the length of time it is good for on a dog. Throw away when it expires, I had had such a terrible infestation, because the house had been vacant 6+ months, that I did replaced the old one with a new one, just to be really sure! We have never had moths again.
  • Bluemyrtle45 Bluemyrtle45 on Feb 25, 2016
    I don't know if this is any possibility or not but we use natural wheat and corn cat litter. We, upon occasion, see pantry moths as they like the natural product. We deal with it and return the product. See Jack's (De Soto MO) post with link (3 above). Great article and info for getting rid of pantry moths and deterring them from returning.
  • Denise Denise on Feb 25, 2016
    There is a pantry pest trap sold online. It is a sticky trap with pheromones to attract the moths to it. No chemicals.
  • Ruth Colby Ruth Colby on Feb 25, 2016
    They are grain moths and they get into everything boxes of rice cereal etc. I started storing everything in plastic containers. They originally came in a bag of dog food
  • Sally Sally on Feb 25, 2016
    THANK YOU, EVERYONE!!! I just want to say that I love this website! I started receiving answers so quickly and everyone has been so helpful. I thought I was the only one that had this problem. I bought a pantry pest moth sticky trap at Home Depot last night and within one hour each trap already had one moth inside of it. I still cannot find the culprit, but will hold off before putting everything back in the phone booth (pantry). I'm taking everyone's advise and will throw out some unopened bags of snacks that I know have been sitting in there for a while, just because I can't see anything doesn't mean I'm safe! I will also leave some basil leaves inside for future invaders. There is a lot of dog food and treats in the phone booth that I'm think started this whole things many months ago. It didn't occur to me until recently that I had an issue because I just thought there was a moth in the house, but after realizing that occasionally when I opened the phone booth a moth would fly out, I knew something wasn't right. They were not a huge issue, one or two flying around, I wasn't too concerned, "what harm could they cause" I thought. Thanks to all of you, I'm glad I am finally taking the time to combat the moths. THANK YOU, AGAIN TO ALL OFF YOU AND YOUR TIME TO ANSWER MY POST. YOU'RE THE BEST!
    • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Feb 26, 2016
      @Sally You beat me to it! I have an old linen cupboard that I use as a pantry, and had terrible moth trouble. We used the traps which were great, and even found the culprit: brown rice from grocery store (blurg!) was re-infesting things, so we started freezing the rice (who am I to turn down free protein?). Thus, we got the problem under control, but it was only last weekend we rennovated the pantry with paint and better shelving...and found the nest! All dead, but H U G E! Gahh!
  • Teresa Teresa on Feb 25, 2016
    If you are dealing with food I would use cedar work. But an easy way to do it is a bowl of cedar pet bedding at the pet department. It also help with other little beasts. Its the cheapest way to get it done. This site is petsmart most of the bedding areas have it.
  • Allinthefamilysingers Allinthefamilysingers on Feb 28, 2016
    hi i have this problem from time to time.I live out in the country where there are those large chicken houses and i think they live in the feed storage a certain time of year they r outside really bad. No I do not think moth balls will do anything but stink up your house and get in your food.I saved my cedar wreath and stuck it in a closet and got cedar scented shelf paper and put it around different places Coffee ground sachets may help I got rid of them for now but ...One thing i found is little like dust webs or spider webs i think they live in them so try to keep them all torn down around in your closets or bottom of your cabinets...GOOD LUCK DHALL
  • Carol belles Carol belles on Feb 28, 2016
    You will find these moths from rice to dog food to bird seed. You can find them even in sealed bags. I have no clue how they manage to get into sealed bags and containers but they do. The bad thing is they don't stay where you first see them. My house was infested with them a few years ago from bird seed - I was ill and hubby didn't notice them when he opened the plastic tubs the food were in. Took us 3 months to get rid of all of them. The traps work their magic within a few days. They trap the males which cuts down on the reproduction. Once I have set them, I watch for any on the walls or curtains - any flat space and destroy them. Then I go on a scavenger hunt for the eggs. You will be amazed where you can find them. I thru out a whole box of envelopes because of the eggs under flaps and actually inside the envelope. Now I make sure I keep traps set in kitchen, pantry and mud room. Don't get discouraged - it may take you a bit to get rid of them but you can do it. I buy the traps on Amazon but you can find them at Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot. Some grocers carry them also. Good luck!
    • Sally Sally on Feb 28, 2016
      @Carol belles - thank you Carol for your input. I have put out two traps that I bought at Home Depot. They have only caught 4 and I have killed 4. I don't have tons of them, I had a few occassionally flying around. I'll leave the traps up and see what happens. I have tossed and packed up the foods that I thought could be the culprits. I continue to exams all bags as I handle them. I have left the food cart and a large rubbermaid dog food bin outside in the cold to help kill anything I may have missed. So far, things are good. Thank you.
  • Lee Govan Lee Govan on Feb 28, 2016
    Try a small wooden bead with a few drops of cedar oil on it and hang it on a string in the pantry. Moths ate it ! I had the same problem one spring and have never had the problem since, it worked a treat and a cheap fix.
  • Sally Sally on Mar 01, 2016
    Sorry to hear you are having issues as well. I have been going into the phone booth twice a day, closing the door and using a flashlight to look for them. I am destroying them quicker than the trap. The trap is working, but just not quick enough for me. I'm hoping that the moths are not nesting somewhere in hidden spaces within the phone booth. I may just have to keep a trap in their constantly or some of the other options folks offered. Good Luck to you!
  • Sue Sanders Sue Sanders on Mar 17, 2016
    For the ones with dog food. We stored our dog food in large metal garbage can in our garage and any spillage was swept up immediately. Solved bug problems as they can eat through the sack. l
  • Janet Janet on Sep 25, 2016
    I always freeze everything coming into our home that is soft. All flour products, all seed and grains, including animal feeds of all kinds. Then keep them in sealed containers on my kitchen shelf. The eggs can hide in the sealing flaps of any package, so freez everything for at least three days. You have to throw out all the old stuff and clean all cupboards--especially in the cracks around the shelves. Use a pesticide if you can. There are several that are effective that you can make yourself from natural products.
  • Ann Ann on Sep 26, 2016
    I googled the problem. Seems they do not like bay leaves. I make a strong bay leaf tea, put it in a spray bottle and spray my kitchen once a week. Rarely see a moth.
  • Roz goldwasser Roz goldwasser on Sep 26, 2016
    I also put bay leaves inside my rice container and in the corners of my cabinets. Haven't seen any moths since.
  • Mogie Mogie on Jun 02, 2023

    I put things inside gallon zip bags. Being clear I can still see what is inside but they food is protected from nasty pantry flies. Things like pasta go into air tight clear plastic containers.