The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pantry moths

plevee's picture

Pantry moths

Having bulk bought flours in the face of soaring prices, I now have Indian meal moths!! Yuck!

I found the offending flour & tossed it & cleared out the bin it had been in but I'm still seeing moths. Is there a cure or do I have to discard all the flour in the house? What do bakeries & mills do about these creatures?  Patsy

Windischgirl's picture

Hi Patsy:

As I have this phobia of bugs (and a very old, leaky house), I go to some lengths to store my flours and and dry beans. 

I keep everything in tightly sealed, glass or heavy plastic cannisters. I learned the moths could easily get into plastic bags, and even some of my cheapie plastic containers with less-tight lids.

I keep no more than 5 lbs of flour in the pantry at one time...when I bought bulk flour, I kept the extra in it's original paper bag placed in a huge plastic bag and stored it in the freezer.

I did read somewhere that meal moths dislike bay leaves, so I bought a jar of bay at the dollar store and scatter them on my pantry shelves.

You may still see moths--be more concerned if you see webby clumps in your flours, as those are the larvaem and that flour needs to be tossed.  It's difficult to know if the moths came from the mill, the store, or your house, so you may be doing everything right and still have moths.  Sigh.



Philadelphia PA

Marty's picture

There is a product called The Pantry Pest Trap. It attracts the moths with a lure and the moths are the trapped to a sticky layer. It's on Amazon, but you may find it locally.

Marni's picture

The moths may have laid their eggs in other areas of your pantry, in which case you'll need to clean out the whole thing and get into every corner.

Windi is right about using the freezer. The cold will kill eggs in the flour (or any other grains), but you need to leave it in the freezer for at least a week. Every grain that comes into my home spends at least two weeks in the freezer before it goes on a shelf. If you've ever had a pantry infestation and had to throw out everything and disinfect for days, you'll never let it happen again. It may take a few rounds of cleaning to be completely rid of them.


plevee's picture

Thanks, I was hoping not to hear this - I have a huge, old-fashioned pantry & buy  many different flours, most in 50# sacks, and no freezer big enough to hold them, let alone freezer space!

I have put the remaining flours in plastic bags & have been checking them every couple of days. So far there is no activity, so maybe I'll try the traps & cleaning all the bins & shelves.

How do bakeries, restauants & mills deal with this problem? It must occur & they can't discard huge stocks & scrub every nook & cranny on a regular basis. Patsy

PaddyL's picture

Keep bay leaves in every container, including bags of flour, pasta, cereal, on pantry shelves, anywhere that bugs might find interesting.  The bay leaves really work, but if your flour is already infested when brought into your kitchen, then pitch it out.

josordoni's picture

Thanks for that tip Paddy, I recently found the source of the moth infestation I had been trying to track down in some nuts - kept in Tupperware, but they obviously got in and out anyway.  I have now chucked out everything (four pedal-bin loads :( ) of stuff that had been in Tupperware or packets (inc. closed ones) hoovered and antibac cleaned the cupboards, and invested in a new batch of Kilner type jars to keep everything in.

I wonder if the wet summer we have had may have brought them out.

KristinKLB's picture

After losing a lot of food to the previous owners poor housekeeping (as in, crumbs in places I couldn't clean to save my life, let alone my food), I use Safer pantry pest traps in every pantry or cabinet that has any dry good of any sort. Instant soup, pasta, obviously flour, cereal, snacks... Everything gets one. They do attract more moths into the kitchen, but they are trapped before they can do damage. It really works. So now we see the moths, but there is no infestation.