How to get rid of hideous pantry moths

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/06/how-to-get-rid-of-hideous-pant-2.html

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Had them a few years back; in addition to your fixes, we sprayed down all the shelves and wiped all containers with a solution of warm water, vinegar, and a couple drops of peppermint oil - did the trick, got rid of them all.

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The answer is always to move.

No exceptions, just run.

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I think I was about 11 when I first saw the phrase “pantry moths” and thought it said “PANTY moths”-- and that it had something to do with puberty, “I really don’t wanna grow up, adulthood is weird.”

I prefer the term “meal moths” now.

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I had some success using food grade diatomaceous earth. Dust a thin layer on the shelf and in corners. Apparently its like making the moths walk on glass shards with bare feet. Be careful not to inhale the dust, but apparently safe if licked by pets.

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Typically the best prevention method is to clean storage areas thoroughly and somewhat regularly, paying particular attention to crevices were crumbs and even dust can accumulate (yep, larvae even loves them some dust). That will do 95% of the job. That’s where the life cycle starts, so if you avoid letting stuff accumulate in tight shelf corners, etc, you shouldn’t need traps. Also best to avoid storing things in cardboard boxes or wicker baskets (lots of crevices), unless you intent to vacuum the dust out of those too.

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Don’t use the wheat cat litter. So unpleasant.

It was like a terrarium with a layer of spiders on the lid fully supported by the teaming moth underfroth.

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You need to leave a few of them alive - so they can go back and warn the rest of them.

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Someone get Chuck Tingle on the line, stat

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They can get quite big

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Easy-peasy! Just:

  1. Take all the food out of the pantry.

  2. Clean out any cocoons or moths living there with a vacuum or a friendly moth-relocating robot.

  3. Put all the food into sealed glass, metal, or thick rubber or plastic containers (not plastic bags or plastic packaging bags from the grocers: the larvae can chew right through that stuff).

  4. Do not leave food out.

  5. Wait a few days or weeks.

Done!

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Alternatively:

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Slake moths.

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Adorable multidimensional mind stealers!

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Great post! Now please do one on getting rid of mold gnats that infest my houseplants. I’ve been putting out sticky traps, but they just catch the slow-witted ones. I’m breeding generations of really smart, really fast gnats…

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You can get very large jars from restaurants. Pickles and other bulk foods come in jars tall enough for spaghetti packages. I also use gallon freezer (thick) bags for boxes like rice mixes. Keep checking though! Eternal Vigilance, and all that.

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Alternatively, store your grains and beans in the freezer, they stay fresher and they are the usual starting point for the moths. Crackers, noodles, and other shelf stable prepared foods go in zipper bags when they get opened, keeps them from going stale anyway. I keep flours (I have celiac, so I use many alternative flours) in the fridge for the moths, but also they stay fresher there. We used to get horrible pantry moth infestations, but we haven’t in years since we started freezing the beans, lentils, and rice.

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I had the moths a few years ago. They’re worst when it’s warm and humid, in heating season my house is cold and very dry. The traps worked ok, but plain unscented dollar-store flypaper worked almost as well, and you could use several strips at a small fraction of the price of the traps. BTW, large jars are good, but the lid threads are very coarse, works best to cover the top of the jar with wax paper before screwing the lid on, for a better seal.

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I hate these moths. Thanks for the trap recommendation.

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One place I lived had meal moths so bad that after we sealed up anything they would normally eat they started going after bulbs of garlic and dried chili peppers-- those are some tough (or desperate) bugs. I got the impression they may have started burrowing under the wallpaper to get at the old wheat paste too.

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