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need help with pantry moths

is there a way to get rid of them with out using toxic chemicals?

we found the infestation a few nights ago. there were about gazillion moths in the pantry that seemed to have literally appeared overnight.

we systematically, took everything out and threw away all open items and all bulk items. The next day there were more moths.

so this time i threw away more stuff and took out the shelves and wiped down the sides, nooks, etc. vacuumed the insides. The next day they were back again.

this time i wiped down all the packaging for cocoons (i'm really grossed out while having to type out this part) and killed more moths.

So far i found a moth here and there but i'm afraid this isn't the end. has anyone else experienced this and have any advice? i'm so over it!! Thanks.

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  1. i'd wipe the cabinet down with pure vinegar.

    i had the problem a while back -- right before i got married, when my mother in law had just met me for the first time and was staying at my house!

    (the larvae must've come in on the bulk rice my niece had bought to make rice packets for tossing after the reception).

    what a nightmare, and so embarassing to be clearing out all the dry goods from that cabinet and tossing whole packages of food while my new MIL watched on. "Yeah, welcome to the family."

    for the future, buy carefully from reputable places, and CHECK all bags -- including pre-packaged -- of grains, legumes, you name it. bugs are bugs, and they like to get in everywhere they can. but that doesn't mean you have to welcome them into your home
    ;-)).

    ps, throw away the vacuum bag, too!

    1. I had some in one of those cardboard cylinders of oatmeal awhile back - it wasn't opened - still had the plastic seal under the lid, but Oh My when I pulled that seal up - it was pretty horrifying. So unopened dry goods are suspect as well, in my experience.

      1. Safer's makes a pantry moth trap, basically a triangular box lined with stickum, and a pheromone bait. They've worked well for me.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Meann

          This product works very well. Most natural foods stores use this in their grain storage areas.

          Since I have been using the trap and storing items prone to outbreaks in sealed containers I haven't had problems.

          1. re: meatn3

            crossing my fingers but i think i'm at the tail end of the infestation. I think i'll take your advice and go get this today. want to trap the last remaining few before they lay more eggs. i'm so grossed out and i usually have a stomach for bugs. just not this time.

          2. re: Meann

            If that's the one that's sold by King Arthur Flour, it helped me rid myself of an infestation. We threw away every opened and unopened package that might be attractive to moths, and cleaned the inside of the pantry closet with Fantastic. Then I bought Click-Clack containers and religiously put all floury goods in them, throwing out the packaging. Keep no packaging, or if you do, put the packages in the freezer for a couple of days. I now have a freezer in the garage, and I store all potentially attractive to flour moth goods in there. I haven't seen one in a couple of years now, but I have one of those traps on stand by in case I do. They are hideous, nasty things...

            1. re: Meann

              They worked well for us, too, and the moths glommed onto the board long after the lure was supposed to have worn out. Gardens Alive has them, so do a lot of other places.

              They do work if you have some patience, or you can spray the hell out of your cabinets and poison your guests and family for weeks to come. :-)

            2. Hopefully you've eliminated the source of the infestation. Don't give the last few moths a place to lay their eggs and you should be fine.

              But as others have noted, don't trust a sealed package to keep the nasty little critters out of your flour / pasta / rice / etc. I use rigid airtight containers for all those things. And a couple of days in the freezer will not only keep the moths away from things you can't seal firmly, it will kill any eggs and keep them from hatching.

              13 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                i'm on my way tomorrow to buy a big container for my 10lb rice bag. not putting anything new in it until they're really gone. so far it's looking good. the eggs are gross!

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I do the freezer thing, too--learned it when I was doing a lot of volunteering at the co-op. I put my bulk grains, etc. in the freezer for 2 days, take them out for a day, and refreeze again for another 2 days. My understanding is that the freezing expands the water in the cells of the critters and kills them. The second freezer go-round is basically insurance.

                  1. re: nofunlatte

                    this morning found 3 moths in the pantry. culprit: brand new cocoa. how did that sucker get in there? they're like houdini. i'm just grossed out thinking that i probably ate one of their eggs. mmm..mmm. blah!

                    1. re: trolley

                      Don't sweat the eggs. They're little and don't have much flavor. It's when a dozen larvae float to the top of the pasta water that you've gotta watch out for the heebie-jeebies.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        eeeewwwww. Years ago, my mom (God rest her soul) made a PA Dutch concoction for my daughter called Rivel Soup. It's a turkey or chicken soup (usually made with leftovers), and has thin dumplings floating in it -- kinda like spaetzle. You guessed it, there was more floating in that soup than the rivels. To this day, 30 year old daughter still squinches all up when I mention Rivel Soup. again: EEEWWWWW.

                        1. re: PattiCakes

                          Does "rivel" rhyme with "weevil"?

                          Sorry, couldn't resist...

                          1. re: PattiCakes

                            I can no longer eat Special K after see weevils in my bowl after the milk was added and one spoon got to my mouth before I noticed the little buggers. EEEWWWW squared.

                          2. re: alanbarnes

                            What alanbarnes said. Also, a fine sieve can quickly zip the larvae off the top of your boiling pasta if you're so inclined. They will float to the top and you can dispose of them from there.

                            OP- it sounds lilke you have a bad infestation. I'd be surprised that a brand new box of cocoa was the culprit (not that it isn't the case).

                            Where do you do most of your shopping? You may want to check out that source.

                            1. re: EWSflash

                              i shop for bulk at whole foods only. i buy grains at trader joe's as well. in fact i only shop at those two places. no it wasn't the cocoa but found critters in there. i'm so mad. i'm still finding them!

                              1. re: EWSflash

                                >>"a fine sieve can quickly zip the larvae off the top of your boiling pasta if you're so inclined"<<

                                Been there, done that, didn't tell the kids...

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  AB: you are evil (rhymes with "weevil").

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Yar, best not do that to the young ones. My son (age 21) was the one that was cooking the pasta, and called me in to tell him what was going on there. I explained the sieve thing to him, and he's fairly squeamish about food contaminants, but God bless him, he watched me sieve the damn things out and did eat the pasta.
                                    I love that boy.

                                2. re: alanbarnes

                                  >>"Don't sweat the eggs. They're little and don't have much flavor."<<

                                  spoken like a true chowhound even when describing pantry moth eggs. hysterical!

                          3. Pack up everything you own and put it for a month in a storage container in -20C weather and I guarantee, you will get rid of your infestation. That's how i got rid of mine.

                            On a more practical note, when you examine your dry foods and throw out everything that's infested and freeze everything that's not to kill eggs, don't forget to check dried flowers and potpourri. The weevil will lay eggs in those too.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: hala

                              oh dried flowers and potpourri are bad for allergies, too. big dust collectors, which, of course, dust mites love. i mean, who dusts the potpourri? ;-).