Tips and Advice

How to get rid of pesky pantry moths and prevent them from returning

Are pantry moths plaguing your home or office? These expert tips will help you to banish them for good

Up there with flies and mosquitoes, pantry moths (or Indian meal moths) have to be some of the peskiest insects of all time. Unfortunately, they are also the most common.

These little creatures are like Newman from Seinfeld, except not remotely funny. Always needling their way in uninvited, always surprising you with their presence, always feasting on your delicious snacks when you’ve specifically told them that you’re saving those Pringles for a night when your husband is out and you can binge-watch Netflix and pour them into your mouth unbridled.

Because pantry moths grow from minute, maggot-looking larvae, it can be hard to tell if you have a pantry-moth problem – until they are flying around in front of your face! By then, their evil spawn has probably wriggled its way into all your dry goods and pantry staples (females can lay up to 400 eggs in two weeks).

The worst thing about pantry moths is that once you have an infestation, it can be extremely hard to get rid of them and even if you do, they can make their way back into your home without you even knowing; smuggled inside your unsuspecting supermarket haul.

Food items pantry moths love:

  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Cereal
  • Spices
  • Pasta and cous cous
  • Dried fruit
  • Grains
  • Nuts

If you’ve been plagued with pesky pantry moths, here’s how to get rid of them and prevent another infestation.

How to get rid of pantry moths:

1. Take everything out of your pantry

That means everything. Wipe down every shelf, wall and door with white vinegar, then warm water, and then eucalyptus or peppermint oil (which can help to repel them).

2. Inspect everything you’ve taken out

If it’s got moths (or tiny wriggling white worms, which are basically pre-moths), it goes in the bin and once everything is in the bin, tie that sucker up, put it in another bag, tie that sucker up and put it in your outdoor bin.

3. Freeze the food you’re keeping

Anything that’s moth-free can stay, but before you put it back in the pantry, put it in the freezer overnight to kill any moth eggs that may be present. This is a good rule for any dry good you bring home, actually — a quick trip to the freezer will kill eggs on arrival.

4. Use storage containers

Store your pantry staples in clean, airtight containers. No more semi-closed bags of flour. No more half-heartedly tied pasta bags. If you’re using containers that have previously lived in your moth-infested pantry, clean them thoroughly first. A run in the dishwasher should kill any eggs.

How to prevent a pantry moth infestation

Now you have rid your pantry of moths and it’s looking spick-and-span, you want to do everything in your power to stop them coming back. Here are some of the best preventative measures you can take.

1. Storage containers

Keeping all your dry goods stored in airtight containers is the best way to prevent pantry moths from infesting your food. Clear plastic or glass canisters are best, as you can clearly see if anything has made its way in. Clean containers regularly.

2. Bay leaves

In a small bowl, lay out a few bay leaves and pop them in a corner of your pantry.

3. Sticky traps

You can buy sticky pheromone traps in the insect aisle of your supermarket. If you get reinfested, the pantry moths will be drawn to the pheromones in the trap where they will stick and die.

Words by: Lauren Sams. Photography by:

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