Pantry moths

Pantry moths can make their way into closed Cambro containers. Apparently, they can fit into cracks the thinness of a piece of paper. I painfully found this out today. Looks like tomorrow will be a full day of emptying cupboards, opening containers and disinfecting. Ugh.


I feel your pain. Pantry moths infested a large collection of cookbooks in a custom built 3 shelf book case under a wrap around counter in my kitchen. They originated from a container of birdseed that our dogs had knocked over and cracked. I spent days vacuuming the larvae from the books, dust jackets and spines - it was winter so I sometimes just opened the door and pitched some of them into the snow. It took us a good 6 months to get rid of all of the nests that formed up in the edges of the ceiling. I bought bulk bay leaves from Penzy’s to scatter on shelves with the books I decided to keep. Interesting that they never migrated to our cupboards - the book cases were near the back door where we fed the birds.


Sorry you have them. We had an infestation in 2008. They got into everything. Sealed pasta, raisins, rice, cereal.

I talked to a prof about them, and they apparently often jump from product to product when grocery stores store the pet food too close to the pasta and rice. We stopped storing our pet food under the sink, so it was further away from the pantry where we store the pasta, legumes and rice.

I’ve become really fussy since then.

If I see any moths inside a store selling beans, pasta or rice, I don’t buy anything.


What fresh Hell is this?

I’ve never heard of pantry moths, but if they can slide into such small openings, how can you keep them out?

Are they more endemic to one part of the world vs the other, or are you susceptible of them pretty much anywhere?


They’re also called meal moths. We have them across Canada.

I have seen them at some grocers that sell beans and lentils. I will lift up a couple bags to make sure I don’t see any. I tend to avoid really cheap stores because that’s where I’ve usually seen them.


More likely the eggs were already inside whatever you put into the containers and then they just hatched.


I agree with @BKeats - the eggs likely were already there, and hatched.

I’ve had pantry moths two different times, both from bulk food bins (at two different stores). I had moved the food to a ziplock bag (for one) and a Rubbermaid food storage container (for the other) - the moths flourished inside the bag/container but luckily never escaped. The ziplock or lid was enough to keep them contained.

In both cases, I noticed them within a week of bringing them home - called the store managers who were extremely grateful to have the heads-up that their bulk bins were under siege! If it hasn’t been too long, you might consider doing the same because the manager likely doesn’t know.

I hope that’s the case, but there were just too many. Those cambros are good, but the lids are not completely airtight, so I can see how moths could possibly, with great effort, wriggle in. I replaced a container of sticky rice, which was full of them, with a new batch bought about 3 weeks ago, different brand. When I wanted to use it yesterday, it already had moths. Just in case anyone thought I was simply dumping and refilling containers, they get washed with hot, soapy water every time they get replenished. Fingers crossed that the deep clean gets rid of them.


They get into everything else, and quickly. I had a SunMaid container of raisins that seemed airtight, and they even got inside that.

I have memories of coming home from surgery, and having spotting a cooked meal worm in my homemade soup.

I got so I could see their webs through clear unopened bags of pasta. I think some bulk stores have a problem, so I’m very cautious about where I buy stuff.

I have unfortunately seen meal moths at some small stores in parts of Toronto. I’m not going to post names of the stores, since I haven’t had a problem lately.

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Pantry moths can chew through plastic bags and thin containers, When we do see even one in our spaces, we buy and set out pantry moth trap(s). Effective and safe for people and pets.

I have brought them into the house on packaged masa and boxed mid-east grains.

And, yes, its the eggs rather than hatched moths that you are bringing into your home. Invisible. and voracious when they hatch.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you buy PANTRY MOTH traps. Closet moth (wool eating) traps are identical in packaging except for the labeling, and have. no effect on pantry moths.


I tend to have a lot of spices on hand. Hundreds. I was going through some old jars, and found some dried dill. I was surprised to see some larvae inside the jar. Lid screwed on tight . Not meal moth larvae. Still gross.

Thank you! Going out and buying some today.

I understand that flour that is purchased is allowed a certain amount of eggs per billion pounds of processed flour or something like that by the producer. I’d hate to see the mill’s hoppers, if that is the case.
When we were getting a rental ready for sale, we found an infestation of pantry moths AND silverfish in the house. We cleaned the place extensively, sprinkled cedar shavings (for pets back then, in a 50#bag) throughout the closets and shelving, and left it for a whole month. Vacuumed it all up with the shop vac, put that in the outside trash and there was no problem afterwards.
All of my purchased grain products go in glass jars; canning jars or other types. No plastic or zipper lock.

Agreed. I think mine came from a bag of rice I bought at a market that was a little run down around the edges. What a long-running mess that was.


I picked up a large bag of flour (right after the pandemic - not my usual store, but they had it in stock). It came in a burlap type of bag; I’m used to large bags of flour coming in paper bags (doubled - some with a plastic liner), but I didn’t think much of it at the time. That bag of flour started out OK, but within a few weeks, we had all these flying “pantry moth” type of bugs. I dug into the bag of flour and it was INFESTED!! I immediately threw it out. We did end up losing some oatmeal and white sesame seeds, but other than that we fared well through the incident.
I did put up some of those fly paper streamers to catch the stragglers.
Needless to say, I’ll never buy flour from that store again!!





I’ve initiated a scorched earth treatment. The cabinets are being blasted with an industrial steamer. If I miss anything, at least it will be cooked. The uppers are basically done, tomorrow the bottom cabinets. At least only 2 of those have food in them that will need to be checked. Then, out come the fridge and stove to make sure I haven’t missed anything. On the upside, I’ll be cleaned up and ready for holiday cooking and baking.

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