Pantry moths, also known as meal moths, damage foods in your pantry and kitchen cabinets. They are attracted to a wide variety of foods such as cereal, chocolate and nuts. The moth has red-brown forewings, and when the eggs hatch the larvae appear as small white caterpillars. The larvae leave behind threads in the pantry and they spin cocoons to transform into brown pupae. The moth emerges from the cocoon and the cycle may start all over again. Instead of purchasing a commercial moth trap, kill them with homemade methods to prevent the pests from ruining your food.
Things You'll Need
- Mild dishwashing soap
- Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment
- Boric acid
- Jar lids
- Diatomaceous earth
- Cedar chips
- Cheesecloth square
Locate the food source in your pantry. Inspect all the packages in the pantry and cupboards. Look for broken or cracked packages. Remove the source as soon as possible. Dispose of the food or seal it in an airtight bag.
Look for the signs of infestation. Webbing on tight areas on the package or small holes in containers are indicative of infestation. The pantry moths can invade packages that are still sealed as well.
Remove all the items from the pantry and cupboards where you notice an infestation. Clean the shelves with a mild soap and warm water solution. Scrub all cracks, crevices and corners on the shelves carefully with a sponge. Dry the shelves with a towel.
Vacuum the cracks with a hose attachment. The vacuum will remove larvae and eggs. Dispose of the vacuum contents outdoors in the trash.
Combine a 1 to 3 ratio of boric acid and cornmeal in jar lids. Place the lids in the kitchen pantry and cupboards to attract the larvae.
Sprinkle boric acid or diatomaceous earth in the cracks and corners of the cabinets and cupboards to kill the pests. Vacuum the cracks and crevices after two to three days and reapply the boric acid.
Tie cedar chips in a cheesecloth square. Place the cheesecloth in the cabinets or cupboards to repel the moths.
Purchase pheromone traps at your local garden supply store if the moths still exist. The pheromones will attract the adult male moths, which reduces the female egg production. Place the traps in the area of the infestation and examine them daily. Replace the traps as needed until you remove the moths from the home.
Tips & Warnings
- Clean pantry and kitchen shelves regularly to remove food particles.
- Clean the food containers after an infestation before storing new food in them because the moths may have contaminated them.
- Place foods in the freezer for two to three days to kill the insects and protect them from future infestations.
- Avoid placing opened and exposed foods on shelves because this provides a food source for the moths.
- Missouri Families; Get Rid of Pantry Pests; Tammy Roberts; May 2009
- Simple Pest Control: Moth Control
- Earth Easy: Natural Insect Pest Control
- University of Nebraska Lincoln; Managing Pantry Pests; Barb Ogg
- Colorado State University; Indian Meal Moth; W. Cranshaw; May 2010
- University of Illinois; Indianmeal Moths in Stored Food; Sandra Mason; November 2004
DIY Codling Moth Traps
If you find a worm in your homegrown apple, it's probably not a worm but a codling moth caterpillar. Codling moths are...