When looking for items in your pantry, have you ever noticed webbing around the corners or sides of your food packets, or weird lumps in your flour, rice or pasta? If you have, chances are you have had pantry moths visit your home.

Where do pantry moths come from? Pantry moths can come into your home through open windows and doors. They can also pass through your walls around openings in cables or plumbing. Or even hitch a ride inside contaminated packaging and food from a shop or warehouse.

Find out what they are, where they come from, what causes them and how to get rid of them below.

 

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What is a Pantry Moth?

While there are over 160,000 species of moths, the pantry moth is the most common household moth in the United States and Europe. 

The Pantry Moth (Plodia interpunctella), also known as the Indian meal moth, can often be the most destructive of all the moth species and stand out from other moths due to their love for stored foods typically found in the pantry or cupboard.

They measures less than a half-inch in length, with a wingspan that approaches one inch and has grey wings. The female pantry moths can lay up to 300 eggs at a time.

The hungry larvae of the pantry moth feed on dry food in the pantry or food cupboards. Snacking on grains, dried nuts, cereals, and a variety of processed products. It’s advisable to throw affected produce out if you notice larvae or moths inside as they can contaminate food with feces, cocoons, and web-like material.

 

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Where do Pantry moths come from?

Pantry moths are attracted by items in your pantry such as pasta, cereals, flours, Grains, Bread, Spices and other dried, processed foods.

They often come in through doors and windows or openings around vents or cables that enter the home. Anywhere there is a food supply is where they can often be found or like to congregate. 

Once Pantry moths are in your house, they can lay up to 400 eggs at a time and hatch within a week. So you might need to check if these pantry moths are actually coming from inside your house.

At the larval stage is where they can create the most damage to your home because at this stage of the pantry moth life cycle they eat what they can. They can remain as larval for up to 2-3 months until they move into cocoons. 

Below we outline why It is important to understand the lifecycle or a pantry moth to help deal with any pantry moth infestations you may have in your house.

 

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What is the Lifecycle of a pantry moth?

There are four stages in the life cycle of a pantry moth:

Stage 1 – Egg: Moth eggs are very small and are white-grey in color. An adult female moth can lay approximately 400 eggs at a time, and they can hatch in around 7 days.

Stage 2 – Larva: This is the stage that is known to cause the most damage. At this stage Moth larvae are like tiny worm eating machines. Their waste, mainly droppings and casings are at this point contaminating any food they come into contact with, making it unusable. The larval stage usually lasts 2-3 months depending on the conditions in your pantry.

Stage 3 – Pupa: Moths in the pupal stage can be found in cocoons. They are often hidden in corners, crevices, or cracks. The cocoons can often be buried underneath food, causing clumps and matted webs inside the food packaging where they are located. Moths usually take 15-20 days to develop from pupae into adults.

Stage 4 – Adult: Adult moths come out from their cocoons as winged insects that are attracted to light and fly around in search of a mate and a place to lay their eggs. At this stage pantry moths do not have working mouthparts and cannot eat, meaning their only objective is to reproduce. Adult pantry moths usually have a lifespan at this stage of 1-2 weeks.

 

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How to manage a pantry moth infestation

Managing and preventing a pantry moth infestation involves more than just cleaning up after an infestation. If you have an infestation, it is important to act now to remove it. 

This involves removing any infested food and produce items as well as cleaning out any cupboards that have signs of pantry moths. 

You should also take preventative measures to ensure pantry moths can’t ruin your food by Using airtight containers and tightly sealing stored food, which is the best way of avoiding these pantry moths ruining your stored food.

You can also take preventative measures to ensure pantry moths don’t enter your home by keeping windows and doors closed at night. If you need any windows and doors to remain open, to let air circulate, you should think about placing a netting or gauze over any open areas to prevent pantry moths from accessing your house.

Check any open produce that hasn’t been sealed properly after use or produce that has signs of damage to packaging before you bring this into your house in order to be sure no pantry moths, eggs or larvae are present.

To learn more about preventing or getting rid of pantry moth infestations check out our blog post on how to get rid of pantry moths here for a more indepth guide.

 

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Related Questions

How long do pantry moths live for?

Once fully grown, having gone through the egg, larva and pupa stages of their lifecycle, Adult Pantry Moths usually have a lifespan at the adult stage of 1-2 weeks.

 

What do pantry moths eat?

Pantry moths don’t eat, there sole purpose at the moth stage of their life is to fly around looking for a mate and lay eggs. Pantry Moths that are at the Larva stage (worm stage) trying to eat what they can in your pantry such as pasta, cereals, flours, grains, bread, spices and other dried, processed foods.

 

Are pantry moths harmful?

While pantry moths aren’t harmful to people and pets, they can cause damage to your pantry food. They don’t bite or sting just contaminate and ruin your food. While this is not a serious health risk, it is certainly a nuisance.

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