Avoid a pantry-moth invasion
photo by jules:stonesoup
Pantry stockpiling and purchasing food in bulk are popular among frugal people. But it’s common for larvae or Indianmeal moths to be carried in with bulk purchases such as flour, cereal, dog food, powdered milk, spices and birdseed. If there are females, you’re bound to have an infestation. Within a couple of weeks, they are capable of laying several hundred eggs.
Anyone who has ever had pantry moths knows it’s a frustrating experience to get rid of them. Thankfully, there are a few moth-management strategies that can help prevent and eliminate the problem.
— Prevention. Shop at stores with a high shelf turnover rate. Inspect your food by checking for larvae, webbing and small holes in the packaging. Freeze any items that are not going to be consumed in a few days. Store your pantry items in tightly sealed containers. To check for a tight seal, place water in the container and hold it upside down to see if any water leaks out. If water can get out, larvae can get in. Plastic bags with seals aren’t going to help, because insects can still bore their way in. Glass and metal containers with rubber seals are ideal.
Look through your pantry, and check for any signs of crumbs, spills and old food that hasn’t been used in a while. Clean it up by wiping with soap and water. Keeping some bay leaves or spearmint gum in your pantry or attached to your storage containers can help because they act as a natural repellent.
Purchasing in bulk is a wonderful way to save, but try to maintain a pantry with items that can be consumed within a couple of months.
— Elimination. Unfortunately, if you know you have pantry moths, you should throw away any packaged foods, especially grains. Don’t forget to check items in other rooms of your home, such as dried floral arrangements, because pests may migrate. Be certain to pull appliances away from walls and shake crumbs out of your toaster. If there’s something you really want to keep, place it in a tightly sealed container and inspect it in a week or two.
You’ll need to clean your shelves and cabinets well. Don’t forget crevices, folds and seams on packaging, and even rims on canned foods. The eggs can be found literally anywhere but tend to be concentrated near the food source. Simply remove the food source, vacuum (don’t forget to discard the bag immediately after use) and then wipe down with soap and water, bleach and water, or vinegar. Be sure to dry the area completely, too.
You need to be diligent and break their life cycle. One-time cleaning and tossing might not be enough. Continue to kill any moths that you see and maintain a weekly cleaning schedule of vacuuming and wiping cabinets down.
As a last resort, you might need to caulk cracks and gaps in shelves and place moth traps that use pheromones. Some traps only attract male moths, so look for traps that attract both or consult a pest-control company.