These days, it seems like every time you reach into the pantry for a bag of chips, you have to swat through a cloud of moths to get it. Pantry moths are no joke, and yet, they’re also pretty common. Tons of people encounter these pests every year but don’t know how to get rid of them for good. Fortunately, our team at ApartmentSearch has compiled some tried-and-true steps to help you knock out this insect infestation once and for all.
What are pantry moths?
A pantry moth is a small, gray or brownish bug that can appear in a kitchen pantry, cabinet, or cupboard. This tiny creature is likely from the Plodia interpunctella species and is also known as the Indianmeal moth, the flour moth, and the grain moth. These pesky creatures are one of several insects known for feeding on stored grains and other dry foods. And their modest size — only about half an inch in length and wingspan — can make them very easy to overlook.
However, if adult moths are present, there’s a good chance your pantry has also become home to eggs, pupae (caterpillars), and pupal shells. And since a single female moth can lay anywhere from 100 to 300 eggs, you probably have a bigger infestation on your hands than you realized. Talk about an unappetizing situation, right?
Where do pantry moths come from?
Pantry moths are found nearly everywhere in the United States and most often feed on grain products, cereals, pasta, and pet food. These insects typically gain entry to your home through dry goods that were contaminated at some point during the production process (i.e., at a food processing facility or packaging plant). While frustrating and unfortunate, this also means pantry moths are in no way an indication of poor hygiene or housekeeping efforts.
4 steps for how to get rid of pantry moths
Although they’re an undisputed nuisance, pantry moths are relatively harmless compared to other potential pests. With that said, there’s no doubt you’ll want to get rid of pantry bugs as soon as they appear. If you’re currently dealing with a moth problem in your own home, read on for our best tips and tricks to get your kitchen bug-free and back to business as usual.
1. Inspect the situation
The first step in getting rid of pantry pests is to inspect all the food in your cabinets and look for signs of infestation. Carefully check your food packaging, and keep an eye out for larvae or webs near your pasta, cereal, and baking mixes, as well as your nuts and sweets (which moths love). You might also find tiny larvae tucked along the edge of canned foods or spice jars, or hanging around your cat or dog’s food, too.
Toss out any grain or nut products that have been compromised — but be sure to take them to your outdoor trash so the problem doesn’t spread inside your home. If you feel comfortable keeping the affected cans, they can be wiped down with undiluted vinegar to kill the larvae.
2. Do a proper deep clean
After you’ve done a full inspection and thrown away your infested dry goods, it’s time to do a proper deep clean of your kitchen. This means pulling out all your shelf liners and replacing them if they can’t be thoroughly washed. Use your vacuum to clean out tight spaces like cupboard corners, shelf brackets, and hardware components (hinges, knobs, handles, etc.).
In addition, you’re wise to vacuum the walls, floors, doors, and baseboards of your cabinets to help cover all your bases. Do your best to remove the vacuum bag or dump the dust compartment in the outside trash (since you don’t want any larvae to grow in there). Lastly, wipe down each shelf with hot, soapy water or vinegar, and mop the floor with the same solution.
3. Switch up your storage
If space permits, you may want to switch up your kitchen storage and keep all your grain and nuts products permanently in the freezer or refrigerator. Since pantry months require a warm environment to breed and thrive, this strategy tends to be pretty effective. But if cold storage isn’t an option, you can also store your new groceries away from other pantry items. This might be a temporary move, too, just until you’re sure the problem has been eliminated.
What’s more, you can transfer your dry goods to mason jars or similarly tight-sealing containers. In doing so, even if you accidentally bring home something that’s been contaminated, the larvae can’t escape once they hatch (so you’ll reduce the amount you have to throw away).
4. Practice pest prevention
The last step toward ridding your home of pantry moths *forever* is to practice pest prevention.
To avoid infestations in the future, mix up your storage methods. You’ll also want to commit to deep cleaning a few times a year so things don’t get out of hand — and to catch any issues early on before they have a chance to hatch into something bigger.
Another great natural option is to fill some sachets with lavender, cedar, or mint, and hide them in your pantry. These scents are known to repel moths and will make your cabinets smell lovely at the same time! But be sure to replace them every few months so they stay effective.
Look for a bug-free home with ApartmentSearch
If you’ve followed our steps for how to get rid of pantry moths and nothing seems to be helping (not even your landlord), it may be time to look for somewhere else to live. Thankfully, ApartmentSearch can help you find a new home — that fits your budget — in no time at all.
Start exploring all the amazing listings from ApartmentSearch today, and get ready to enjoy a more comfortable and pest-free pad ASAP!