What are Pantry Moths?
A pantry moth is a meal moth found commonly in the United States. Sometimes pantry moths are referred to as “Indian meal moths” as well. They stand out from other moths due to their love for stored foods typically found in the pantry or cupboard.
Pantry moths are small winged insects with grey, brown and tan hues. They most commonly are found indoors, in locations where food packaging is stored such as: kitchens, stores selling food, food processing plants. They are known to cause terrible damage to food, spoiling it as it becomes invaded by pantry moths’ larvae.
What Attracts Pantry Moths?
Most typically even though it is frightening, you’ll find them in your kitchen. They’re attracted by those items in your pantry such as - flours, Pasta, Cereals, Grains, Bread, Spices and other dried, processed snacks.
They often come in through doors and windows or openings around vents or cables that enter the home. The pantry moths’ sense of smell is exactly how they find just the right place to settle: in your pantry.
Where there is food supply is where they, unfortunately, tend to feel safe. Using airtight containers and tightly sealing stored food is the best way of avoiding these pantry pests.
Are Pantry Moths Harmful?
While pantry moths aren’t harmful to people and pets, they are damaging to your pantry food. No biting or stinging from these moths, just major contamination of food. While this is not a serious health risk, it is certainly a nuisance. When an infestation occurs, all contaminated food should be discarded.
Recovering from an infestation can be expensive and time-consuming. Preventing an infestation can be done simply by inspecting food packaging before purchasing it from the grocery store and once purchased storing it properly in an airtight, glass, hard plastic or tin containers.
What do Pantry Moths Look Like?
While they do look like clothes moths, there are some distinctive features that make pantry moths stand out. With a wingspan of 5/8-inch, they really are rather small. Their wings have a pale greyish tint and some outer wings are more reddish brown. Connecting the upper and lower wings is a black band.
The Pantry Moth Life Cycle
Pantry moths though small can lay up to 400 eggs at a time and hatch within a week. Once they reach the larval stage is where damage really begins to happen. Once they are at this stage of life they chew what they can. This can take up to 2-3 months until they move into cocoons. These cocoons can be found in cracks and cervices even burrow underneath the food.
After 15-20 days the moths are adults. Adult females lay hundreds of eggs directly on or nearby the food sources and the lifecycle continues again. After up to 20 days comes the adult pantry moth with its wings.