Have you ever gone to get something out of your pantry, only to find it has been ruined by some sneaky, invasive pest? You are not alone. A woman in the United States continued to face the same assault against her dried food products, so she took to Reddit asking for help. Who was she up against? Pantry moths.
Woman Asks Reddit How To Get Rid of Pantry Moths
After apparently trying everything, a Reddit user by the name of Kargosh posted some photos in the Reddit channel CleaningTips of her rice container. She said that she had tried everything, but pantry moths keep getting into the rice and ruining it.
“These bugs keep getting into my sealed rice container! How do I stop this?” she asked Reddit. “I also have pantry moths that get inside my oatmeal container even though its sealed with a Tupperware lid. I have cleaned the pantry area thoroughly and put up moth traps that have been effective and then I open up my rice and oatmeal today and find bugs in both.” (1)
As always, Reddit users responded quickly offering up advice. Many people said that putting her rice (among other products) in the freezer is supposed to help. People said that most dry food products, such as oatmeal, cornmeal, etc, are best kept in the freezer for at least a while after purchase. This is especially if you are buying them in bulk, because it will take you a long time to get through them. The reason for this, some users explained, is because the moths aren’t getting into her containers, they were already there – in the form of microscopic eggs. Storing these products in the freezer for a while kills these eggs so they don’t hatch and ruin your food.
“I used to work for a grocery store that sold a lot of bulk rice in 25-pound and 50-pound bags. The minute they were delivered, we loaded them into the freezer and kept there until needed, specifically to avoid this problem. Most stores I know do this,” explained one Reddit user.
What are Pantry Moths?
Pantry moths, also known as meal moths or food moths, are small insects belonging to the family Pyralidae. These tiny creatures are about half an inch in length and have a wingspan of approximately 0.75 inches. The adult moths have distinctive markings on their wings, with a combination of gray, reddish-brown, and copper colors. (2)
Life Cycle and Behavior
Understanding the life cycle and behavior of pantry moths is crucial in order to effectively combat these unwanted invaders. The life cycle of a pantry moth consists of four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult.
- Egg Stage: The female pantry moth lays eggs on various dried food products such as flour, rice, beans, cereals, nuts, and spices. These eggs are incredibly small and are barely visible to the naked eye.
- Larvae Stage: Once the eggs hatch, the pantry moth larvae emerge. These tiny, white caterpillars have an insatiable appetite and feed on your stored food products. The larvae often create webs and silk-like threads within the infested food, making it more difficult to spot their presence.
- Pupa Stage: After feeding for a few weeks, the larvae spin cocoons and pupate. During this stage, they transform into adult moths.
- Adult Stage: The final stage of the life cycle is the emergence of adult pantry moths. The adults do not cause any direct damage to your stored food products but are capable of laying hundreds of eggs, starting the cycle all over again.
Damage Caused by Pantry Moths
Pantry moths are not just a mere annoyance; they can cause serious damage to your dried food supplies. Here are some of the problems they can create:
- Contamination: Pantry moths can contaminate your stored food with their eggs, larvae, and webbing. Consuming infested food can lead to health risks, including foodborne illnesses and allergic reactions.
- Financial Loss: Discovering an infestation in your pantry means having to discard and replace all contaminated food, resulting in a significant financial loss.
- Food Waste: Infestations often lead to a large amount of food waste, as most of the infested products become inedible.
- Psychological Stress: Dealing with pantry moths can be frustrating and overwhelming, causing stress and anxiety for homeowners.
How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths
Now that we understand the troubles pantry moths can cause, let’s explore effective methods to eliminate these pesky insects (3):
- Identify and Remove Infested Items: Carefully inspect your pantry and identify any signs of infestation. Dispose of all contaminated food products, paying attention to any webbing or larvae you may find. Make sure to empty your pantry completely and thoroughly clean all shelves to remove any remaining eggs or larvae.
- Vacuum and Wipe Down: Vacuuming your pantry shelves can help remove any hidden larvae or eggs. After vacuuming, wipe down all surfaces with a mixture of soap and water to ensure a thorough clean.
- Freezing and Heating: To further eliminate any hidden pantry moth eggs or larvae, you can freeze infested food items at 0°F (-18°C) for a minimum of four days or heat them at 120°F (49°C) for at least 20 minutes.
- Store Food Properly: Prevent future infestations by storing dried food products in airtight containers. This helps to deter pantry moths from easy access and reduces the risk of re-infestation. Keeping newly purchased products in the freezer for a few days will also help to kill the eggs so that they don’t hatch and invade your food.
- Bay Leaves and Herbs: Place bay leaves or other aromatic herbs, such as rosemary or mint, inside your pantry. Pantry moths dislike the strong scent of these natural deterrents and may be discouraged from infesting your food.
- Pheromone Traps: Utilize pheromone traps specifically designed for pantry moths. These traps use synthetic hormones that attract male moths and prevent them from reproducing.
- Professional Help: If the infestation persists or becomes overwhelming, it is advisable to seek professional pest control assistance. Pest control experts have the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively eliminate pantry moths and provide long-term solutions.
By following these steps and maintaining good hygiene practices in your pantry, you can significantly reduce the chances of a pantry moth infestation and protect your precious dried food supplies from being ruined.
- “These bugs keep getting into my sealed rice container! How do I stop this?” Reddit
- “WHAT ARE PANTRY MOTHS?” Terro
- “How To: Get Rid of Pantry Moths.” Bob Vila