Dealing with pantry moths

The hot and humid weather of summer suits some more than others. I’m on the side of not being well suited. On the positive side of the ledger sits pantry moths. 

Invaded we were. Last summer went through most of autumn, and thus great plagues were incubated. Every time someone opened the pantry door, moths, defending their newly won territory, dive bombed the seeker of food. 

A multi-faceted approach was needed. First step was research. I have done that for you. So here I present what to do to get rid of an infestation of pantry moths. It isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t going to be pleasant work. It isn’t going to be overly frugal. But by ridding your pantry of moths, you will save more food being wasted and you will rid your pantry of moths. 

Step 1: empty the pantry of everything. (If you’re like me you will continually exclaim the following: When did we turn into a supermarket? Why do we have so much food? Why do we have so much out of date food?) Use this time to toss  outdated food. 

Step 2: dry goods have to go. No, you can’t keep that unopened paper bag of flour. It will have moth eggs in it. No, you can’t keep that half empty box of rolled oats. No, you can’t … No.  Just no. Toss everything. If you don’t, the moths will infect your new produce.

Step 3: spray in the pantry with fly spray and quickly shut the door. The moths will die quickly making it easier to clean the pantry. Come back in an hour. 

Step 4: use a dust pan and brush to sweep up moths and crumbs and dust and onion peels and bits and stuff. Then clean every surface and the walls of your pantry. It doesn’t really matter what product you use. Best is some detergent in hot water. Dishwashing liquid is fine. Rince your cloth in the water and detergent and wring out so it is damp. You will need to empty and refresh your water repeatedly, depending on size and state of your pantry. Wipe over again with clean water. Dry with a cloth. Then leave to air dry. 

Step 5: put cloves in the gaps of the pantry. The walls of my pantry are grooved so a clove fits perfectly, like a little tack. Moths don’t like the smell. Plus closing the gaps make it hard for the weevils to come up. The moths lay their eggs down these gaps apparently. When hatched, they wriggle up. 

Cloves being stuck in gaps

Step 6: wipe over every tin before you return each one to the pantry. Put dry goods in airtight plastic containers. 

That’s it. Only pesticides used is the fly spray. 

OK, I won’t lie. The six easy steps took all weekend. I made my boys do steps 1 and 4. Which required much nagging on my part to keep them going and not disappearing into their rooms. I did the tossing part of Step 1. And I assisted in Step 4, cleaning the bits they missed, like up close to the edges. 

Result: organised, clean and moth-free pantry.  

12 thoughts on “Dealing with pantry moths

  1. I have all my dry goods in well sealed containers for similar reasons. Reason #1 was from my old house. Mice. The wee fuckers get in EVERYWHERE and when you’re a povvo out of her depth first home buyer, you can’t afford to be replacing the mouse chewed dry goods. Reason #2 is from this house. Ants. Although, it appears we have finally solved that problem. Who would have thought a broken pipe would create that much inviting dampness.

  2. Pantry moths are the Devil’s Work. You were so dedicated and thorough to take all those steps. Do you think you’ve permanently cured them? We had them when we lived in Sydney and I just could not get rid of them. I am not making this up: they even appeared in brand new packets of flour inside SEALED plastic tubs. Totally agree with your Steps 3, 4 and 5 – I think that’s where we went wrong. We chucked everything out but probably needed to basically fumigate for eggs. It all gave me the absolute heebie-jeebies to think that we could be eating their eggs with our cereal – ugh ugh ugh! The only thing that cured it for us was throwing everything out and moving back to Victoria. I’ve never heard of them down here I think because of the cold. But uuuughggggh!

    • Mmm, Fiona. Can I tell you, you are probably eating their eggs. We eat the same flour, bikkies, dry goods. From much of the same sources. By we I mean you and me. But I may as well say the moths. They would be in the factories and flour storage. It’s why they hatch in Sydney in unopened bags. They are already there. The warmth and humidity is what they like to hatch. To prevent it, Siem people say store dry goods in freezer, or put them there for a few weeks.

      I wrote this post months ago and we had months without moths. One or two are back. I know that’s like ants and mice. There are rarely one or two but I think I’ve got on top of it. Mainly because I am keeping the pantry less cluttered and can see what needs eating.

      I can only keep on top of this of I don’t let Mr S go shopping. He buys too much and clutters the pantry. He feels safe that way. Even though we live within 10 min walk of 3 big supermarkets.

    • Let me know your results. I did work experience in Year 10 at the Arnotts factory. Mice were accepted around he huge flour silos. Nothing much you could do. Of course they laid baits but the mice were in heaven.

    • By heaven I didn’t mean dead. I meant enjoying the flour. The factory, since closed, was pretty clean. But mice like flour and bred rapidly.

      If things on your food worry you, don’t think about the microbes that live on fruit and veg and in the soil they grow in. Nor on the hands of pickers. Nor the insects that land on the fruit.

  3. Mice?!?!?! Accepted?!?! OK, biscuits and flour both off the list I’m giving up TimTams.

    I can handle microbes. Just not flappy things with wings and wiggly larval forms. Gives me far greater heebie-jeebies than the bugs you mentioned yesterday. Give me a redback spider any day! Even a Huntsman! Pouring a moth-free wine as we speak!!!

  4. Following on from the comments above…you do know that food safety organizations allow a certain number or percentage of insect or rodent parts in food and it still passes the standards? Here is an example from the US (READ AT YOUR PERIL!):

    Really, if we think we are so far removed from nature that all of our food is sanitized and pure, we are kidding ourselves. However, I do aggressively get rid of any insect infestations in my own house (their parts might increase the insect content of my food beyond the limits, haha!)

    • oh my goodness! I’m scarred!! Lucinda – your Dad was clearly right about the extra protein in the Weetbix!

      • This first came to my attention when a coworker’s spouse worked in a grocery distribution warehouse. We were talking about whether to wash cans of food before opening them, and she said, “Of course you should – there are rats in warehouses!” An eye-opener for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s