Pantry moths

Asked June 7, 2019, 7:31 PM EDT

In May I moved into a condo which I had owned since the beginning of March. On and off I had noticed an occasional moth which I now believe to be a pantry moth of the Indian Meal variety. I had washed the cabinets before I moved in but did not put much food in them. After identifying the moth and learning about it's life cycle I took what little I had in the pantry cupboard and inspected it all and put most of it in the refrigerator. A few boxes and two or three cans I put into another cupboard which showed no evidence of any critters. I really believe the source is the pantry cupboard because the previous owner had it chock full of everything. My question is this: Since the cupboards sat empty for almost three months what was the larva I found this morning eating and how was it staying alive? Also, I had an exterminator come in a week ago and he treated the whole condo. I have found a few dead moths in the pantry cupboard and on the floor beside it. And I have had traps around so I could monitor for the presence of more adult moths. I've been trying to clean out the little holes that are used to adjust shelves, figuring that eggs might have gotten laid in them. Am using vinegar to clean them. Is there anything else I could do? I'm thinking of having the exterminator come back and treat the pantry cupboard again. I have seen only the one larva which doesn't make sense to me since I still see some moths.

Cuyahoga County Ohio

1 Response

Without a picture of the moth or the larva (caterpillar), I cannot verify the identity of the moth. If it is Indian meal moth, it is a very difficult insect to quickly eliminate from a structure. One of the challenges with this insect is it can grow and develop in numerous items that go beyond the pantry products. Anything that contains cereal grains (cake mixes, corn meal, rolled oats, breakfast cereals, granola bars, cookies, etc.) can be a food source. Also included on their food sources are dried fruits (raisons, dates, apricots, cherries, blueberries, etc.), dry cat and dog foods, chocolate, and many other foods. They can also be found in articles used for decorations that can include seeds of plants as well as wild bird food. So one needs to look beyond the pantry for possible food locations.

As far as the occasional moth showing up week after week, when the larva is ready to pupate, it usually leaves the food source it had been feeding in and move to a new location to pupate. The caterpillars often climb upwards, thus if they were in a cupboard, they may climb up toward the ceiling or the under side of the counter tops. After they pupate, they may sporadically emerge as new adults. So they could be hidden in places that are difficult to see them.

Another possible food source that could be difficult to find is food stashed by a mouse in wall voids. Not much that one can do about that.

If you have not done so already, you may need to pull the appliances out of their positions to clean under them as well.