Aunt Norma's



It seems we may be just beginning our journey with pantry moths. I have read your website and a few others and looked at pictures. I appreciated your picture comparison of pantry moths vs. clothing moths. I am certain now we are dealing with the darker version, which is an Indian moth. And from what I've read, there's never just one.

What I can't seem to figure out from websites and comments posted is if we have an infestation, how many flying moths (approx) should we be seeing at one time???? For the last month, we have found 1 a day, with one occasion of 3 in one day - all at separate times. I can find NO evidence of moth life stages anywhere (no webbing in food, no cocoons full or empty, no eggs, nothing except one flying moth a day).

I have fully emptied my food pantries and have the food in rubbermaid bins. We put out the traps and have only caught 2 in a week. But we have seen one a day, still. So far none today.

Can you tell me what kind of numbers would indicate a problem? We would love to avoid a true infestation!!!!

I hate to say it, but if you have even just a few, you likely already have an infestation.  The GOOD news is that b/c you caught it so early- you should be able to get rid of them before there's a BIG problem.  The most important thing is to figure out the source, and if you are unable to do that- thten you have to treat the entire pantry and everyting in it as a potential source.  Either way- the most important step for you right now is to clean out the pantry- go through everything that's in there and wipe it down, check the lids, etc.  Even if you don't want to order the moth spray, you can do a lot on your own at this early stage.  I would recommend throwing out as much as you can, follow the instructions on the website about checking the food items and the pantry wood, and put your grains and spices in the freezer for a week. If you've seen even just a few- there are more to come.  Each adult moth lays between 50-300 eggs a day... the eggs probably just haven't hatched yet (it can take anywhere from like 1-4 weeks to hatch depending on different conditions like temperature). 

When it first happened to me, I saw a few, like you, but I didn't recognize what they were so did nothing and then a month or so later I had about 100, with worms and cocoons and the whole shebang.  I had to throw out everything and keep food out of the pantry for a week.    Also- since you have the grains in Rubbermaid containers (which sometimes they can even weasel into through the sides and lids, believe it or not, check the containers every few days see if there are moths or worms in anything- this can help identify the source.

Good luck and please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Thank you so much for your time and response.  For the life of me, I can not find a source.  So for now, it will be the trash, the freezer and/or Rubbermaid for all our food. 
I'm thinking we may be in touch!  :)
AN:  You're welcome. Anything I can do to help. I have become a kind of accidental moth expert ;-)
WE FOUND THEM!!!  You were absolutely right and we persevered.  The larva and one cocoon were wedged in the back of the pantry between the removable wooden shelving and the wall.  We have tuck-n-groove shelving and they were tucked in a groove.   I think we will be ordering spray if I can't find it locally. 
We have removed all the wooden shelving and metal hardware that was anchored to the wall.  So far we can't see that they are living in the wall, but we only found 1 cocoon and 5 live larva.  That can not really be all, can it???   My fear is that they are living in the dry wall and we just can't see them.  We did not see any eggs, which concerns me.  Maybe the eggs are hiding in the wall and the larva are crawling to a nearby location. 
Any thoughts on how to treat back there?
AN:  Ha!!  YAY- you found them!!  That's a good thing.  Now, be careful not to go into full-blown moth paranoia, which is what usually happens at this stage, lol.  Remain calm.  You got the problem early and should be able to get rid of them without a big issue.  Let me address some of your concerns:

I seriously doubt they are living in the drywall- unless you can see wholes and such in the wall, in which case I would recommend spraying the moth spray inside those holes and around the wood, etc.  Don't get too worried about not seeing the eggs- they are absolutely miniscule and you probably wouldn't see them if they were in front of you- I've never seen one personally.  It's hard to tell how many eggs are around, and (you aren't going to like this part), you will probably be seeing pantry moths for the next couple weeks.  This is all part of the process.  The key to getting rid of them is to eliminate their food source, keep them from reproducing, and kill the adults.  Just to review the info on the web and what we've talked about before- get the food out of the pantry- keep what you can in the freezer and the rest in glass or SECURE plastic containers on the counter or kitchen table for a few days or a week.  You want them OUT OF THE PANTRY.  The moth spray helps with this b/c it kills eggs and they HATE the smell so they won't go back in if it's sprayed, but you can do it without the spray too, it just takes a bit longer.  there's no way around the die-off process, short of a chemical bomb in your home, b/c they eggs are too small and could actually be anywhere in the kitchen and the house, so you will see some adults as these eggs hatch...don't panic.  Just keep the cupboards clear so they can't get back in and set up shop again. A pantry moth trap will help with the process b/c it kills the adults when they hatch.  Either way, if you eliminate the food and keep the pantry empty and clean, they will die off, hopefully before you have a bigger problem on your hands.  If you use the spray, you can keep some food and items in your pantry as long as they are in glass or secure containers and you touch up the doors or shelves with the spray every few days to keep the smell fresh. 

In the meantime- at least make sure to thoroughly wash down all surfaces in the pantry b/c their could be more hiding.  Good luck I'm glad you are making progress!


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Hotel Frankfurt on Monday, May 20, 2013 12:48 AM
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Bob on Monday, February 3, 2014 8:03 AM
If you live in an apartment building and the source is definitely NOT in your apartment, then it is coming from another apartment and the moths you see are just haplessly flying thru you place. strangely nobody on these posts ever mention this possibility
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Mary on Sunday, September 14, 2014 3:09 PM
Can pantry moths do harm to Oriental rugs or clothing in closets
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