Pantry moth is the common term for describing those species of moth that feeds off grains, seeds, flour and other stored food products. The Indian Meal Moth and the Mediterranean flour moth are the most commonly known species. Other informal names that they most people often call are grain moth, rice moth, cereal moth, kitchen moth, cupboard moth, miller moth, wheat moth, weevil moth, corn moth, flour moth, barley moth, oatmeal moth, and seed moth.

Flour mills are seen to have a lot of serious pests which can cause serious problems. They also affect storage warehouses and they eventually cause the same problem in our homes. Once they infest our homes, it is sometimes difficult to eliminate them. This is because they mate pretty persistently.

So, now that we know a bit about the pantry moth, let’s take a look at some of the different moth species that are considered to be the pantry moth and lastly how to get rid of pantry moths.

Species Of Pantry Moth

The Indianmeal moth or Indian-meal moth

They are scientifically known as Plodia interpunctella. They belong to the pyraloid moth of the family pyralidae. They are also known as weevil moth, pantry moth, flour moth or grain moth. The name originated when it was seen feeding on Indian-meal or cornmeal, and also because it does not occur natively in India as the name Indian meal moth would suggest.

Its larvae or caterpillars whatever terminology you would rather go with, are commonly known as waxworms. These are a common grain-feeding pest that can be found all around the world, consuming cereals and similar products.  It is, however, important to note that they are not the same species as the waxworms often bred as animal feed. This larva has the ability to bite through plastic and cardboard; thus, even sealed containers are at the risk of being infested. Once found, the moths are difficult to eradicate. The last instar larvae is also able to travel long distances before pupating; thus, a given infestation site may be located a great distance from the nearest pupation site.

The Mediterranean flour moth or mill moth

It is known scientifically as Ephestia kuehniella, and they also belong to the family pyralidae. This moth is a usual suspect around cereal grains, especially flour. This moth is found throughout the world, especially in countries with temperate climates. It thrives well in areas that have warm temperatures, making them develop rapidly, but, they can also survive in a wide range of temperatures.

The Mediterranean flour moth is mostly found in warm places of storage, especially for grain products like in flour mills and bakeries, where it can breed all year round. In the flour mills, this pest has been an excruciatingly big problem because its caterpillars spin silk that clogs machinery which is not good for business.

Now, what you’re probably asking yourself is, how do I identify a pantry moth infestation?

Larvae in Food

When the moths eggs hatch, the larvae that emerge will spin their webs in your infested food. You will notice the clumps of webbing and the little whitish worms in the food. They start out really tiny but quickly they are able to grow up to 2/3-inch-long with black or brownish heads. You may also see tiny cast-off skins trailing behind the worms as they move away. I tell you there is nothing creepier than pouring out some cereal and watching it start to move!

Larvae in Home

You will notice the larvae moving about the place or hanging from the walls of the kitchen, often near the ceiling. This implies that they are looking for a nice dark nook or crevice to pupate and turn into moths.


You may also see the webby cocoons on top of cabinets in the kitchen and corners.

Flying Moths

You may find small, half-inch long-brownish moths flying around your kitchen and pantry, usually around lights at night.

So generally, if you are on the lookout for pantry moths in your kitchen, you should check for clumps inside the packaging of grains, starches and flours. You would also notice webbing on the outside and inside of food packages, especially on its edges or corners if moths are around. You also try to lookout for any unpleasant odour, because pantry moths also leave an unpleasant smell due to the secretions that they emit. So now if you find yourself noticing any one of these disturbing signs, it’s time to take more serious action to get rid of these pests.

Common problems associated with a pantry moth infestation.

The pantry moth is one of the worst pests that are commonly found to be infesting stored products. Like every other pest, there are a couple of problems associated with this pest which includes:

Material may be more or less webbed together. Small two-colored moths, normally gray and reddish-brown may also be seen flying about the infested area.

There is serious damage caused by the larvae spinning silken threads as they feed and crawl by webbing food particles together. Besides infestation of all cereal food products and grains, this larvae also feed on a wide variety of foods and feeds such as dried fruits, powdered milk, fish food, graham crackers, cornmeal, flour, raisins, nuts, bird seed, dog and cat food, chocolate, candies, health food and seeds, and even the kitchen sink.

Direct damage to the grain is as a result of larvae feeding on the seed germ. In the flour mills or storage houses, if there are grains meant for sale, the moth feeding reduces the dry weight of these grains. At the same time, grain weight may actually increase because of water absorption; when there is increased water content, pantry mold can become a problem. The largest decrease to the value comes as a result of contamination from the larvae’s droppings and silken webs being left in the grain.

So have you ever wondered how you can curb all these problems? Let’s take a look at some simple ways to go about it.

How to get rid of pantry moths

Best ways of getting rid of the pantry moth

Getting rid of pantry moths I tell you is not an easy task, it is stressful, but you have to do it and do it fast. The following methods will guide you through fighting pantry moths and reclaiming your cupboards.

Eliminate the main source of the infestation.

First things first, you need to identify the source of the pantry moths. Empty your pantry, and go through every single package and container you have in there. Any item you find contaminated, bag it up and bin it! Wash your containers in a sink of hot soapy water – have the sink ready to go and once the contents are in the bin, put your container in the hot water for a thorough wash.

Clean your kitchen thoroughly.

It applies to all cupboards, drawers, and other spots where you store food, as these are the places that you will find them. Remove all shelf and drawer liners and wash all storage jars, containers, and surrounding walls using a mixture of water and vinegar. It helps to kill the unhatched eggs and prevent you from just getting re-infested with those pesky pantry moths again.

Another good remedy for pantry moth defense can be achieved by using essential oils. Adding a few drops of essential oils like peppermint, citronella, tea tree or eucalyptus, will go a long way.

To capture the last of the moths that may have been missed, a pantry moth trap, also called a pheromone trap that emits a smell which lures them and keeps them stuck in a particular place. You can easily get these in supermarkets and hardware stores.

Checking packages before purchase

When shopping, take a moment to check that the packaging hasn’t been nibbled at, and that there are no little webs around it. Clear bags are easy to check if you give them a little shake, you will see some little crawling insects if they are there.

Endeavor to freeze dry goods before storing.

Freezing of dry items not only kills pantry moths but also other pests or insects as well, that might be hidden somewhere in your package. You can do this by wrapping these items in a sturdy plastic bag and putting them in the freezer for 2-3 days before storing.

Use Bay leaves as natural repellents

Due to its pungent smell, bay leaves have been known to be quite effective at driving away pantry moths. Simply put fresh or dried bay leaves in strategic places in your kitchen that can be susceptible to infestation. You can also hang a bouquet in the pantry and allow the scent to spread.

Final Thought

Clearing your house of a Pantry Moth infestation is a laborious and time-consuming job. But by following the guidelines provided above, you will now know how to get rid of pantry moths.



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