How to Get Rid of Pantry Pests in Your Home

Pantry pests are a common household problem that can be frustrating to deal with. These pesky insects including various beetles, moths, weevils, and more can infest your food pantry and ruin your stored foods. Getting rid of them and keeping them out requires diligence and employing multiple tactics. This comprehensive guide will explore effective methods for eradicating pantry pests and maintaining a pest-free pantry.

Identifying Pantry Pest Infestations

The first step is learning how to identify if you have an active infestation of pantry pests. Here are the most common signs that these insects have invaded your food storage areas:

Visible Pests

  • Small beetles or moths present in your pantry or cupboards
  • Larvae crawling around food packages or on shelves
  • Cocoons or webbing visible in corners or crevices

Damage to Food Packaging

  • Tiny holes chewed through boxes or bags
  • Powdery residue or small grains spilling out of packages
  • Larger will make large jagged holes in packaging

Food Spoilage

  • Food inside damaged packages appears spoilt or mouldy
  • Presence of pantry pest larvae, cocoons, frass, or webbing in food
  • Noticeable rancid or stale odour from contaminated foods

Tracking Down the Infestation Source

Once you’ve confirmed pantry pests are present, try to pinpoint where they are gaining access and originating from. Check for:

  • Damaged food packages or spilled grain products they could be emerging from
  • Cracks, crevices, or holes providing entry points from outside
  • Nearby pet food storage areas also infested as a source
  • Bulk food bins or seldom-used appliances like flour sifters
  • Recent additions to the pantry of contaminated foods

Identifying the infestation source will allow better targeting of pest removal tactics.

Pantry Pest Prevention Tips

Prevention is the first line of defense to keep pantry pests out in the future. Here are proactive steps you can take:

Maintain a Clean Pantry

  • Wipe down shelves regularly to remove any spilled flour, crumbs, etc.
  • Vacuum floors and corners of the pantry often
  • Don’t allow clutter like cardboard boxes to collect

Avoid Introducing Infested Foods

  • Inspect packaged foods carefully before purchase
  • Quarantine new additions for 1-2 weeks before adding to pantry
  • Don’t take home infested bulk bin foods

Store Foods Correctly

  • Keep dry goods in airtight, pest-proof containers
  • Refrigerate or freeze foods pantry pests can infest
  • Maintain cool & dry storage conditions

Manage Waste Properly

  • Remove trash regularly from kitchen
  • Rinse out recyclables thoroughly before storage
  • Ensure compost doesn’t attract pests indoors

Check for Entry Points

  • Seal cracks, crevices, holes with caulk or sealant
  • Use weatherstripping to fill gaps under doors
  • Install window & door screens

Following these steps proactively can help prevent pantry moths and other stored product pests from ever gaining a foothold in your pantry.

Killing Pantry Pest Infestations

If you already have an active infestation, more aggressive tactics will be needed to get rid of pantry pests. Combining multiple methods is most effective to kill all life stages.

Discard Infested Foods

The first critical step is to identify and throw out any contaminated or potentially infested items. Check carefully for:

  • Visible insects, larvae, webbing present
  • Tiny holes, damage, or powdery residue
  • Foods with rancid, stale, or moldy odour
  • Remove and discard affected packages in sealed bags

Removing their food source is key to eliminating pantry pests. Freezing small amounts for 2-3 days before discarding can kill any eggs or larvae present.

Use Pheromone Traps

Traps use pheromones to attract adult moths and beetles. They can capture a good portion of the adults to disrupt breeding. Look for traps designed for flying or crawling insects.

Employ Heat Treatments

Heating infested areas or items using a clothes dryer, heater, or oven can kill all stages. Useful for treating appliances, bins, or cupboards.

Deep Clean the Pantry

Washing down shelves, vacuuming, and cleaning every nook and cranny removes debris essential for their survival. Pay close attention to cracks and crevices.

Use Desiccant Dusts

Apply diatomaceous earth or silica gel in voids and hidden areas pantry pests hide. The sharp dusts damage their exoskeleton causing dehydration. Wear a mask when applying.

Repel with Strong Smells

Pests dislike scents like peppermint, cloves, bay leaves or cedar. Place fragrant sachets or essential oils on shelves.

Employ Cold Treatments

Freezing for 72 hours minimum will kill all life stages by rupturing cell walls. Great for books, papers, or appliances.

Using a combination of these elimination methods is most effective at removing an existing infestation from your pantry or kitchen.

Natural Pantry Pest Controls

For those wanting to avoid chemical pesticides, there are some natural options that can help control pantry moth infestations:

Diatomaceous Earth

The sharp silica in diatomaceous earth damages exoskeletons causing dehydration when pests crawl through. Spread lightly in cupboards and shelves.

Minimize Food Sources

Eliminating access to cereals, grains, flour, and pet food denies pantry pests sustenance needed to thrive.

Pitfall Traps

Small cups filled with vinegar create a slippery trap pests cannot climb out of. Place near potential insect entry points.

Insect Growth Regulators

Growth regulators disrupt their life cycle preventing larvae from maturing. Products contain active ingredients like pyriproxyfen.

Parasitic Wasps

Release of wasps that lay eggs in pantry pest larvae provide biological control. Best for large-scale infestations.

Essential Oils

Oils like peppermint, clove or thyme oil can repel and kill pantry pests. Wipe shelves or use cotton balls with oils.

Pheromone Confusion

Synthetic pheromones hamper mating by confusing and overwhelming male insect’s senses. For heavy infestations.

Start with preventative steps and thorough sanitation methods first. Then incorporate natural pesticides as needed to control heavy infestations without harmful chemicals. Monitor regularly and combine tactics for the best results.

Effective Store-Bought Pest Control Products

In severe pantry or cupboard pest cases, you may want to turn to chemical pest control solutions found at most hardware stores:

Insecticide Dusts

Dusts containing permethrin, deltamethrin or diatomaceous earth that can be applied to shelves, corners and crevices to kill pantry pests.

Insecticide Sprays

Sprays with pyrethroids, hydroprene or tetramethrin help eliminate adult moths on contact and provide residual activity.

Fumigants and Foggers

Foggers with synergized pyrethrins or short-lived fumigants can penetrate deep into voids to kill hidden pests. Use with extreme caution.

Baits and Sticky Traps

Traps draw in pests with pheromones or food attractants and catch them on glue boards or bait formulations.

Contact Insecticides

Sprays and aerosols with ingredients like pyrethrins, deltamethrin or cyfluthrin provide quick knockdown of the adults, larvae and eggs.

Always carefully read and exactly follow label instructions when using any chemical pest control products. Only use what is necessary for the specific situation. Combine with preventative measures like sealing cracks and removing food sources where possible.

Preventing Future Pantry Pest Infestations

Once you’ve eliminated the current pantry or cupboard pest problem, there are key steps to take to help prevent future invasions:

Remove Cardboard Boxes

Eggs can hide undetected in folds and seams. Replace with clear rigid plastic bins or glass jars.

Keep Dry Goods in Freezer Bags

Double bagging flours, cereals, and other items in plastic freezer bags protects from pests.

Limit What You Store Long-Term

Don’t keep more dried goods than you will use in a 1-2 month timeframe.

Take Out the Trash Regularly

Don’t allow garbage to accumulate indoors, especially food waste that could attract pests

Add Cedar Planks to Shelves

The strong cedar scent naturally repels moths and beetles. Replace planks annually as scent fades.

Use Tightly Sealed Containers

Glass, metal or plastic containers with tight lids prevent pests from getting in.

Vacuum Behind Appliances

Use crevice tools to vacuum up spider webs, debris, and hidden pest nests.

Change Pantry Lights to Yellow

Yellow light makes it harder for flying insects to spot entry points.

Being vigilant with proper food storage methods and maintaining a clean, clutter-free pantry is key to keeping these pests from returning. Monitor regularly for signs of infestation and act quickly at the first sight of moths, beetles, or larvae. A pest-free pantry provides peace of mind your food supplies are protected.

FAQs About Eliminating Pantry Pests

How do you get rid of pantry moths naturally?

  • Remove all infested foods and wipe down shelves with vinegar. Apply diatomaceous earth powder to cracks and crevices. Place natural repellents like cedar boards, mint leaves, or cloves on shelves. Use pheromone traps to capture adults.

What scent keeps pantry moths away?

Strong scents like peppermint, cloves, bay leaves, lavender, cedar oil, eucalyptus, and thyme oil can deter pantry moths. Place open containers or essential oil soaked cotton balls in affected areas.

Does Lysol kill pantry moths?

Yes, Lysol spray can kill adult moths and lingering larvae it comes into direct contact with. Spray shelves, corners of cupboards, and crevices. It leaves a residual scent that can help repel future invasions.

Can sunlight kill pantry moths?

Direct sunlight can kill some life stages of pantry moths and disrupt breeding. Take all infested food items out of the pantry and place in sunlight for several hours at a time. Wash and expose shelves and drawers to sunlight as well.

What temperature kills pantry moths?

Exposure to extreme temperatures above 115°F or below 30°F will kill pantry moth eggs, larvae, and adults. Ovens, clothes dryers, or freezers can all be used to treat appliances, books, or other items.

Why do I still have moths after cleaning my pantry?

Pantry moths can originate from other rooms in your home outside the kitchen. Larvae can hide undetected in pet food bags, dry decor like flowers or wreaths, birdseed, or thrift store purchases. Be extremely thorough in your inspection and cleaning of all potential sources to eliminate them entirely.

How do you keep weevils out of your pantry?

To deter weevils store all susceptible items like flour, pasta, cereal, rice, etc. in airtight glass, plastic or metal containers. Discard any infested packages. Use pheromone traps and natural repellents near food storage areas. Eliminate all crumbs and food debris.


Pantry pests can be stubborn intruders but with determination, diligence and employing multiple pest removal tactics, you can successfully eliminate an infestation. Infused with pungent natural oils, diatomaceous earth, aggressive cleaning, discarding contaminated foods, and maintaining tidy storage habits will help keep these pesky pests from returning. With vigilance and consistency using prevention methods, you can protect your stored staples from future damage.