Pantry pests include many crawling insects but some can fly. No doubt the beetles and weevils are easier to control. But there are flying pantry pests and these can present more of a challenge when trying to eliminate a problem because they can cover vast areas of the home. The more common flying pantry pests include Tropical Ware House Moths, Pantry Moths, and Mediterranean Flour Moths.
INFESTED WITH PANTRY MOTHS?
In most cases, pantry moths were brought to your home with some type of stored food product. Examples would include flour, dog food, biscuits, pasta, cereal, dried beans, bread, spices, cookies, and other standard pantry items. Another common household item which can lead to an infestation is bird seed.
Here is a common pantry moth close to an average sized finger so you can gain perspective of their size:
PANTRY MOTHS LOVE BIRD SEED
The packaging standard for bird seed is much less stringent compared to human food. In fact, its actually quite normal for birds to routinely eat larval stages of most any insect including pantry moths. For this reason bird seed will routinely contain contaminants such as insect eggs, pupae and active stages like larvae and adults.
Many times these insects go unnoticed when you buy product at the store but once brought home, developing larva will quickly migrate out and into your cabinet. Before you realize anything has happened, you’ll have a pantry pest infestation.
WHERE DO PANTRY MOTHS LIVE?
Due to the wide range of pantry moths we commonly find active in homes, it is important to realize that populations can easily survive outside the pantry. Be sure to include all areas of the home when trying to identify the main nest site.
If you are seeing small moths hovering around your pantry, dog feeding station, pet food storage bin or birdseed storage bin, you probably have some developing stages other than the active adults.
Pantry moths do not fly well and will like to land in the area where they know to be home. They are easy to kill but you will notice they keep coming and they create quite a mess when smashed for such a small pest.
PANTRY MOTH LIFE CYCLE
Ultimately you will need to break the life cycle of your pantry moths to eliminate the problem for good. This means doing some cleanup and treating.
The live cycle of pantry moths is like any insect; egg, larva, pupa and lastly adult.
When the egg hatches, the larvae will feed. After getting its full (which usually takes 2-4 weeks), it will then spin a cocoon where it will undergo metamorphosis. After its fully developed, it will hatch and emerge as the flying adult. The adult has nothing but reproduction on its mind and females will lay eggs quickly following fertilization.
Adult females will look for other places to lay eggs. Expect these locations to be close to where the original infestation began but it can end up on the other side of the home. Although the duration of time will vary for different species to complete their respective live cycles, the process for controlling pantry moths is the same regardless of which species you have active.
GET RID OF PANTRY MOTH INFESTED FOOD
To stop the cycle of pantry moths, you will need to identify the infested food product which started the problem. Once found, throw it or anything else you suspect as being infested away. If you are unsure about an item, place it in a clear plastic bag where you will be able to inspect it every day or two to watch for emerging pests. Keep these “questionable” items stored for at least 4 weeks. If nothing emerges by then, consider it safe to save.
Now if you find insects accumulating in the bag within a month, you know the foodstuff is contaminated and needs to be discarded.
HOW TO TREAT THE PANTRY MOTH INFESTED AREAS
Once the cabinets and pantry have been cleaned out and lay bare, you may treat before placing anything back. Pantry moth eggs and pupae will no doubt be hidden in these areas and though vacuuming will remove some, its not possible to get them all. And since it only takes 2-3 missed pantry moths to enable a new infestation, its best to treat the areas and be done with them for good.
The best way to treat these areas is to do what we call “crack and crevice” spraying. Basically this is best done with an aerosol; its when the chemical being applied is placed specifically into cracks, voids and gaps where the target pest is most likely to be nesting. This type of application should be done with a “tube” or “straw” injector which will enable you to get the product exactly where it needs to be.
WHERE DO PANTRY MOTHS HIDE?
With pantry moths, the larva will feed for several days and then seek a place to spin their cocoon and pupate. Although this can happen where they are feeding in boxed food, it will also occur where they migrate to throughout the kitchen. In fact its very common to find them in the cracks between shelves, behind baseboard molding, in door frames and then out around sinks, garbage bins, stoves, refrigerators and even under dishwashers. To be safe, you need to treat all these areas at least once.
And the best aerosol for moths is FS MP. It comes with a special straw injector tube which makes for an easy application. FS MP has strong oil based solvents which will penetrate eggs and pupae making it the only product that can kill all stages. If you’re thorough with your treatment, you can rule out every area you treat and with any luck, end the activity for good.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) summarizes why FS MP is so good for this pest.
By treating all these areas, if migrating larva move over the treatment, they will die. This helps by breaking the cycle and is key. Since no chemical can kill eggs or pupa, it is very likely that some will still exist following the cleanup so be sure to treat thoroughly at least once. The good news is larvae are quite weak and susceptible to chemical. But you need to use the right one.
FS MP is so effective, if your problem is limited to a cabinet or pantry and you are thorough with your coverage, you can effectively kill off all stages with one application. FS MP can kill all stages and this is not the “norm” when it comes to aerosol sprays for moths.
The following video is long but well worth the watch if you’ve been dealing with a bad moth issue and need to do a thorough treatment.
AVOID CLEANING WITH WATER OR OTHER HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS
It is important to understand that cleaning cabinets and pantries with water, bleach or some other household detergent WILL NOT provide control. In fact the cleaning agents quickly break down and the remaining moisture is exactly what developing larvae and pupae need so the net result of cleaning is in general a way to make the problem worse.
In the end, failure to do the crack and crevice treatment with FS MP will allow the problem to persist and feel like its “never ending”. We’ve seen this happen with many customers where they believed their cleaning would solve the issue. In the end, the pantry moths came back every few months with a “surge” of adults. This will in turn lead to more eggs, etc.
And even though these homeowners threw everything out, nothing really changed. The few eggs and cocoons which were hidden are always going to be enough to let these persistent pests repopulate. So to avoid this from happening, use the residual FS MP Aerosol and you will save yourself a lot of aggravation and extra work.
HOW TO TREAT A LARGE HOUSE FOR PANTRY MOTHS?
Now for homes or commercial establishments which are large, using an aerosol can be time consuming and costly. So for these scenarios, you should still use the FS MP for crack and crevices.
But for the extensive baseboards, carpets and other flat areas where larvae or eggs might be crawling and hiding, apply BITHOR. This odorless concentrate is mixed with water and applied to the areas where the target pest is nesting as well as where the might end up going for egg laying.
The following video summarizes in less than a minute why Bithor is so good for use in the home for a range of pests including pantry moths.
Mix 1 ounce per gallon of water and apply the mixed product over 1,000 sq/ft of area when using a good PUMP SPRAYER.
Also consider the MINI MISTER (featured below) for applying Bithor.
Bithor will kill active stages quickly and it has a second active that lasts long term for egg control.
To make the proper treatment, you’ll need a good PUMP SPRAYER. Our design comes with the right fan tips needed to insure uniform coverage when spraying large areas. In the end, this method of application is far more effective for large areas and will prove to be easier for getting every area properly protected. This is especially true if you are treating a warehouse, stockroom or a house with large rooms.
BEST SPRAY FOR USE WITH BITHOR
If you want the best applicator for using Bithor, get the Mini Mister.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) summarizes why its so good for use in the home to make clean applications.
As you can see in the video above, the Mini Mister creates a “light” aerosol that lets you spray baseboards and even walls without making a mess.
DO NOT USE PANTRY MOTH TRAPS!!
PANTRY MOTH TRAPS are often times the only reason moths are being seeing in the home. For some reason, people have either been told something incorrect regarding the use of traps or they misread why pantry moths exist and why they should be used. But here are the facts.
First, meal moths live outside in all 48 states of the mainland known as the USA. During the spring, summer and fall, they are quite active. Their sense of smell is amazing and they can track a moth trap deployed in your kitchen cabinet for over 5 miles away! Once they get that smell in their senses, they will track it to your home and enter via too many open air passages to list in this article. The short list includes attic vents, exhaust pipes routed through the side or roof of the home or through open windows and doors. In fact chimneys are one of the most common routes of entry. The flue closed will not keep them out and they are very good at tracking through any crack or gap to get inside.
Second, moth traps are not meant to “control” anything. At best they will catch 5% of any active population so there is valid reason for using them other then to let you know its moth season. So for sure, their scent is alluring and will call them in from miles away. But once they get inside the home, the scent will be so strong throughout the home the moths don’t know where to focus.
For commercial processing plants that handle grain, seed and food based powders (like a mill plant), knowing when moths are active tells them its time to start treating. Their processing plants are vulnerable when adult moths are active and by default, these facilities must treat so they don’t get bad problems. For them, its not a matter of “if” they get a problem but rather “when and how bad” will it be for any given season. So once moths are active outside, they know to start treating.
But for the average homeowner? Moth traps should never be deployed. First, they won’t control anything and second, all they’ll do is call some inside the home and once they get inside, at best the traps might catch 5% of the ones who enter.
Worse yet is the result of using traps. In general, it will take about twice a long as the traps were used for their “smells” to dissipate. So if you had traps in the home for 1 yr and then remove them? Plan on having moths enter for 1-2 yrs. It generally takes that long for their pheromones to break down and no longer be strong enough to attract new moths from smelling it and tracking down your home.
Now if you’re interested in knowing whether moths are active outside? Get our traps. They are amazing. Set them out in a deck railing or picnic table at sunset and watch how many get caught overnight. Our tests here in GA can get them filled overnight.
I HAVE REMOVED MY TRAPS BUT STILL FINDING MOTHS!!
Now if you made the mistake of installing moth traps for a month or more and have been collecting or finding them fluttering around the home during the spring/summer/fall, remove all traps ASAP! Unfortunately just removing the traps won’t solve the issue; the pheromones that were released from the traps just a few weeks in the home will keep attracting new moths for 1-2 years. To reduce this issue, wipe down any location where traps were placed with our TON ODOR NEUTRALIZER.
Designed to break down and effectively eliminate any odor, TON works great on insect pheromones where applied. The key spots to treat will be all surfaces where moth traps where set out and the surrounding area up to 10 feet around the placements.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) explains what T.O.N. will do and shows how to use it in the home.
Mix 4 oz of TON per gallon of water and then wipe down shelving, countertops, pantry walls, cabinets, etc. where the moth traps were once set. Any rag, sponge or paper towel can be used. TON is non-toxic, odorless and safe to handle so no special protection is needed when using it. All it does is break down odor but it does not do so using any corrosive action like bleach or ammonia so its not a cleaner, merely a deactivating agent.
Wiping down any surface in the home will effectively remove lingering insect pheromones as well as other odors. Remove the moth pheromones and you’ll remove the chances of new ones finding the home.
And if you have an idea of how they’re entering, treat those entrance ways too by going outside and spraying the TON/water mixture onto vents, exhaust pipes or chimney flues. Its not a a bad idea to spray air filters in furnaces too by removing them, vacuuming them and spraying them to remove all scent. Filters should be left to dry and then when reinstalled, the TON will be pumped into the vents a bit removing any pheromone in there which can be effectively reach the outside of the home.
FEMALE PANTRY MOTH TRAPS
Now if you want to set out a trap? Go with our female targing SUPPRESSOR TRAPS. This design contains both both male and female pheromones but you only need to use the female lures.
The trap itself is larger and designed with coloration that females find to be especially attractive. These traps are packed 5 traps to a set. The set includes male lures and special female “wicks” which contain the scent females interpret to mean as a good place to lay eggs.
In badly infested structures, these traps will be needed if you wish to break the moth cycle once and for good. So for commercial warehouses, using them with both male and female lures are fine. For the average home, only female lures should be set out.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET RID OF PANTRY MOTHS?
Once you initiate the proper pantry moth control program outlined above, you should not expect instant results. Since nothing can kill the pupal stage of this pest, it will take some time for the population to “run out”.
A structure properly treated with FS MP and Bithor will eventually break the cycle of this pest. Moth traps installed will intercept adults before they are able to mate and lay new eggs. Theoretically, this means the only part left of the population will be the pupae. And since these hard shelled cocoon’s will not hatch and emerge till they are ready, it could be another 4-8 weeks for all of them to hatch.
During this time its entirely possible to see some flying around. But if you treated right and keep an adequate amount of traps installed, these adults will have no place to go where they can “do their thing”. Eventually the population will run out of pupa and when that happens, you won’t see any more new activity.
STILL SEE ADULT MOTHS AFTER 2 MONTHS?
If you still see adult moths after 2 months of treating, removing traps and treating with T.O.N, it could be that your home is still serving as a “moth magnet” due to the smell of the pheromones getting into attic spaces and air circulation systems. This commonly happens following an infestation and can take 1-2 years to end.
Pantry moths have a tremendous range and can detect pheromones for miles. So any home which had activity will continue to attract moths from outside the home. Since pantry moths live outside during the spring, summer and fall, they’ll follow this scent to your home and once they arrive, find a way inside. The common routes of entry include the fireplace, heating/air exhaust pipes, attic spaces and crawl spaces. Of course they can enter through the front door, garage doors and windows too.
So if you have moth traps out 2 months after the initial treatments and continue to see nothing but adults, its a sure sign that adults are foraging inside.
To take out any invading moths, install AEROSOL MACHINES fitted with CLEAR ZONE refills. These machines will release a small amount of pyrethrin which in turn will kill any flying insect in the home like moths, mosquitoes, gnats, fruit flies and more.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) summarizes how they work and why they’re so easy to deploy to eradicate ongoing moth issues.
Each machine can cover at least 600 sq/ft and they should be placed in any room which has had adult moths active. Common rooms to use these machines would include the kitchen, pantry, living room, garage, attic or great room.
Each machine should be filled with a can of CLEAR ZONE aerosol which will last 1 month. It can be used safely in the home, around the clock, and won’t pose a hazard to people or pets. The small release of pyrethrin will kill off all adults and in turn, assure that none are able to mate and lay eggs.
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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