Pantry, Meal, Kitchen, Flour & Grain Moths

- Larvae ("worms") infest grains causing spoilage -

Summary: A number of different moths infest stored cereals, grains, dried fruit, dry pet food, and so forth. The Indian meal moth is a common species in this group that occurs in kitchens worldwide. There are now pheromone lures and traps available to help detect an infestation.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Pantry or meal moths

This page will help you identify and get rid of pantry moths (meal moths) that infest stored dry foods like cereals, grains, fruit, and pet food. There are a number of moths in this group that all look somewhat similar. Some are drab grey in color while some are a bit more colorful like Indian meal moth (see photo right). They are variously called meal, pantry, kitchen, flour or grain moths.

These moths are sometimes also called "structural pests" because they can cause so much damage and spoilage in commercial grain storage warehouses. For homeowners, however, meal moths are mostly a nuisance pest when they infest stored foods and dry pet food. The first sign of an infestation is often small moths fluttering around the kitchen, or in a room near the kitchen.

Indian meal moth a type of pantry moth

Indian meal moth. Note dark coppery band on wings.

If pantry moths are found:

When moths are found fluttering around the house you should first place pheromone traps (see How To Locate A Meal Moth Infestation) in areas of food storage to pinpoint the room where the infestation is located. While these traps will only capture male moths, this will pinpoint the room or cabinet where the infestation is likely centered.

The infestation itself will be larvae, or "worms", feeding near the surface of the food, often under a thin webbing. You'll have to search individual packages to find the infestation. Once found the infestation can be usually be eliminated by discarding the infested food product, or freezing for several days anything that is not discarded. If the infestation has spread to other areas you'll need to repeat this procedure until no more moths are trapped.

The key to dealing with meal moths is to first find the source of the infestation which will be in some type of stored food product and don't forget to check dry pet food. Once located it is usually just a matter of discarding the infested food and carefully cleaning the surrounding areas.

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Meal Moth Guide a printable guide with pictures

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