Fighting food moths in the kitchen: the best tips

kitchen plague
Fighting food moths: This is how you get rid of the annoying pests

According to the Federal Environment Agency, a food moth can lay up to 500 eggs

© Antagain / Getty Images

They are not welcome guests in any kitchen: food moths eat through paper and plastic to get to our supplies. This not only sounds disgusting, but is also harmful to health.

Food moths are not a sign of poor hygiene. In fact, at least the households can do something about it, should their supplies be nibbled by the little pests. “An infestation in the apartment occurs less frequently by flying through an open window, but mostly by passive introduction via food or packaging material such as cardboard boxes that has already been infested with eggs or larvae,” explains this Federal Environment Agency the backgrounds. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the problem that the animals – once they have spread – are difficult to drive away. And that their legacies can lead to health problems. That’s why you need to fight the food moths. The best way to do this is summarized below.

How to recognize a possible infestation

Although they are only a few millimeters in size, they are easy to see due to their brownish color on a white background: food moths are nocturnal and rest on the walls during the day – this means you can spot the pests quite quickly. The females can fly, but only over short distances once they have been fertilized. Accordingly, they usually crawl or hop when they are looking for a suitable place for their eggs. And you can already guess what the moths are after: your food, preferably grain and flour, legumes and nuts, rice and seeds, tea and chocolate, dried and dried fruit or even animal feed.

Once they have reached their destination, they know no stopping and even bite through paper and plastic bags. After their larvae hatch, they will attack and contaminate your supplies. You can recognize the infestation by thread-like webs that act like thin cobwebs and stick the food together. Unlike moths, the larvae are diurnal, but their white color makes them difficult to spot on white walls. This allows them to spread unhindered if the pests are not recognized in time. Because the fact is: A female food moth can lay up to 500 eggs, so that after a short time you have a real plague in the house.

This is what a food moth larva looks like

The larva of a food moth hatches in the storage tank

© blandness / Getty Images

How to fight food moths

  1. Before you start the actual control, you should dispose of all infested food. Not just in the rubbish bin, but preferably in an airtight bag that you throw in a rubbish bin that is not directly in the house. In the next step, it is recommended to stow all supplies in solid glass, plastic or ceramic containers – as unfortunately food moths can also bite through thin paper and plastic foils.
  2. You should then use a vacuum cleaner to clean all cupboards and shelves where the infested food was stored. This also includes all cracks and corners in which the larvae could hide. Last but not least, the Federal Environment Agency advises wiping all affected surfaces with vinegar water. Since moths like moisture, you should finally dry all hard-to-reach areas with a hair dryer. The eggs and larvae do not survive high temperatures.
  3. Now it’s down to business: To combat food moths, you need a pheromone trap. These are small cardboard strips that are covered with an adhesive film – they contain a sex attractant that attracts the males willing to mate. Once the pests have entered the trap, they stick to it. In order not to attract more food moths from outside, your windows should remain closed as long as the pheromone trap is active. here get the trap to fight.

Another note: You can also use the trap if you suspect food moths to find out if the pests have infested your food.

Natural enemy: Ichneumon wasps fight moths

If you don’t like the pheromone trap, you can rely on parasitic wasps to biologically combat the food moths. The animals are so small that they can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Nevertheless, they are very useful in the fight against kitchen pests: After the wasps have hatched, they use the moth eggs to lay their own eggs. As a result, the larvae die – and the parasitic wasps disappear again when there are no more moth eggs. The exact instructions can be found in the packaging. here get the parasitic wasps.

How to prevent food moths

You can take preventive measures to prevent food moths from making themselves at home in your kitchen:

  • When shopping, make sure that packaged food does not have any small holes and is sealed.
  • Put foods that are suitable for this (e.g. flour or cereals, nuts) in solid glass or plastic containers.
  • Keep your pantry clean, as even grains lying around can attract food moths.
  • Use repellents, so-called biocidal products, whose active ingredients are intended to deter pests.

Tip: Use an anti-moth spray made with natural ingredients like essential oils. here get the spray.

How dangerous are food moths?

Even if the food moths themselves are not dangerous to humans, their webs and droppings are harmful to health. The consumption of infested products can trigger allergies as well as skin diseases and gastrointestinal diseases. It is all the more important to discover and combat the pests in good time. Except that their legacies are just plain gross.

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