Moths in My Pantry

Posted by Eleni Prokopeas on Oct.01, 2008

For months, I occasionally saw moths in our pantry but not enough to worry. To remedy the situation, I threw out opened packages and placed everything else in beautiful mason jars with a tight latch. I had a very nice, organized pantry and thought the problem was solved. I soon found out that I was wrong.

I kept seeing a few here and there, I brought in an exterminator, used “green” chemicals with no order and found that a month later I still had this problem. The second time the exterminator came out, I asked several questions,  “Why do I still have moths?  Where are they coming from?  Why is it they are only in my pantry and not the rest of the house or closets?  Did they come in from outside?  How did they get in the mason air tight jars?”

I was shocked to hear his response!

He said, “they did not get in the jars; rather they were in the jars.” What he meant was, everything refined has eggs and if left for a long period of time, the eggs will hatch, turn to larva and then to moths! That could be the reason why I have moths in my mason jars.

I could not believe it; I was buying expensive organic products and bringing them home with eggs. This experience led me to do further research and “green” my pantry.

Meal Moths attack stored grain products or household foodstuffs. There are a number of moths in this group that all look similar. Some are drab grey in color while some are a bit more colorful like Indian meal moth (top). They are collectively called meal, pantry, kitchen, flour or grain moths. Once established in food, insect populations can increase and infest vulnerable material throughout the home. Some adult moths do fly into the home through open doors or windows, but most are carried inside from outdoor storage or in packaged goods or groceries.

Everyone’s home is vulnerable. However, those who do not store food properly have the greatest problems. Spilled or exposed foods attract the insects and increase the chance of infestation. Foods that are not tightly sealed, especially those maintained for long periods of time, are particularly susceptible to infestation.
The Indianmeal moth and the Mediterranean flour moth are the most prevalent meal moths which infest foodstuffs. Several other moths that are found occasionally in foodstuffs include the meal moth, the white shouldered house moth, and the brown house moth.

Removing Pantry Moth Eggs
By M.L. Barton

Pantry moths can cause serious damage to the food in your cupboards. The moths lay their eggs in crevices and on flat surfaces on food shelves, in addition to burrowing into flour. Removing pantry moth eggs is a simple process, and there are many relatively easy ways to prevent future pantry moths from invading your cupboards.

Things You will Need:

  • Flour and pantry moth trap
  • Bay leaves
  • Tea Tree oil
  • Paper towels
  • Strainer or sifter

How to Remove Pantry Moth Eggs

Remove all of the food from your shelves. Any sort of baking item, such as flour or oats, should go into your freezer for 2-3 days to kill any eggs or moths already in the food.

Wipe down the entire cupboard or pantry with a solution of water and tea tree oil (approximately 10 drops of oil for every quart of water). Be very careful to wash down all crevices to remove pantry moth eggs.

Take bay leaves and lay them on the cupboard shelves. Bay leaves help to repel insects. Some traditional home advice manuals recommend putting the bay leaves in the flour and removing them when cooking.

You can purchase flour and pantry moth traps to set on the shelves as well, if these methods do not work.

Take the flour, oats, etc. from the freezer and sift carefully through a strainer or flour sifter to remove any moths, larvae, or eggs. You can throw the food away if you prefer, but if you sift the moths and eggs should be removed.

Preventative measures:

  1. Read labels and look at expiration date (the reason companies put an expiration date is that they feel the eggs won’t hatch by that date and the product will hold for that period of time).  Keep in mind that there are eggs in these products.
  2. Stock and store food for no longer than 2 weeks. Who knows how long a product has been in a warehouse, in transit or on a shelf. (You don’t need to worry about cans for moths but cans have other things to worry about like such as the aluminum content in cans.  A Green Diva Mom never uses cans! The safest is fresh, refrigerated or frozen.
  3. Food Habits: remember to eat 70% raw fruits and vegetables, use very little refined goods My children like cereal, I only buy 2 and alternate, they too are in mason jars and my whole grains pasta is also in jars.
  4. To help guard your home from these pests, you need a clean pantry with tightly sealed packages or containers. Glass jars with tight fitting lids are best. I had pests eat through plastic storage bags and card board boxes.

So far so good, pantry pest problem under control without any dangerous chemicals!

For more reading on pantry moths please go to, Washington State University Cooperative Extension at

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Posted under Home Environment, Kitchen & Bath.

Article By: Eleni Prokopeas

Eleni Prokopeas

Profile: Eleni Prokopeas is a mother of three wonderful children and happily married. She lives in Dallas, Texas. Eleni’s son was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old. Unable to find help for him in conventional medicine, she turned to alternative medicine and healed her son of autism by his 6th Birthday. Rather than accepting the diagnosis as life-long, Eleni asked, “Why are neurological problems becoming an epidemic for so many young children, especially boys?” and “How can I help my son reach his full potential?” After spending endless hours researching, reading, calling and asking questions, she has helped her son heal and move through the Autism Spectrum World. It’s because of this experience and passion she created This experience changed how she looked and lived her life. “I now know that with knowledge comes power and that we ALL have the power to treat and overcome anything. Eleni Prokopeas is a mother with a passion for sharing empowering information to help improve children’s health and the health of their parents. Eleni volunteers her time to serve as a consultant helping families with children on the spectrum, spending time with her three beautiful children and husband, creating healthy meals and juices daily, yoga and of course working on


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