Indian Meal Moth

Pantry Moth

Safe, effective pantry moth control is possible using these proven, organic and natural methods.

Best product
for Pantry Moths

The pantry moth or Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) is considered to be the most troublesome of the moths infesting stored products in the United States. They attack all cereal products, whole grains, dried fruits, pet foods, bird seed, dried milk and nuts. Damage is caused by the larvae spinning silken threads as they feed and crawl, thus webbing the particles of food together. Small moths are often noticed flying in a zigzag fashion around pantries and other infested areas.

Adult moths (5/8 inch wingspan) are pale gray in color and are easily distinguished from other grain infesting moths by the reddish brown or coppery luster of their outer forewing. Fully grown larvae (1/2 inch) have brown heads and are dirty white in color, sometimes tinged with green, yellow or pink. They are extremely active.

Life Cycle

Adult females deposit up to 300 eggs on or near food materials. Within two weeks larvae hatch and begin actively feeding. As they move they spin silken threads throughout the infested foods, which may become matted with webbing. Larvae feed for approximately two weeks until fully grown and select a pupation site (cracks and crevices, pantry walls, ceilings) where they spin cocoons. Transformation to pupae occurs, and adults emerge in about 30 days. The entire life-cycle requires 4-6 weeks to complete and there may be five overlapping generations per year, depending on temperature.

Note: Indian meal moths are most often introduced into the home in packaged goods and groceries. Here’s how to get rid of them naturally.

Pantry Moth Control

      • Inspect foods for possible infestation before you purchase.
      • Store susceptible foods in as dry a place or container as possible.
      • Infested food items can be thrown away or salvaged by freezing for 1 week.
      • Clean up food spills promptly, paying close attention to cracks and crevices.
      • The Pantry Pest Trap uses a powerful attractant to detect adult moths. Place near the problem area, generally where dried foodstuffs are stored.
      • Release trichogramma wasps to attack and destroy pest eggs. These tiny beneficial insects are very effective because they prevent the pest from reaching the destructive larval stage.
      • Apply food-grade diatomaceous earth for long-lasting protection. Made up of tiny fossilized aquatic organisms, that look like broken glass under the microscope, DE kills by scoring an insect’s outer layer as it crawls over the fine powder. Contains NO toxic poisons!
      • Bt-kurstaki (Bt-k) is a highly selective biological pesticide used to manage the larval stage of this pest. Approved for organic use, it should be applied every 7- to 10-days, as needed.
      • Made from citrus peel extract, Orange Guard kills and repels many bugs on contact. Spray in kitchens, pantries and under cabinets and appliances — anywhere insects hide! Safe for use around food, people and pets.
      • Least-toxic botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.

Tip: Vacuuming will remove many hiding insect pests. Empty the vacuum cleaner after use to prevent reinfestation.

Note: After all sources of infested food have been eliminated, it may take up to 3 weeks for moths to complete their life-stages.

Recommended Products