Here I am, a year later, battling another round of pantry moths. 😔 I tried not to let it overwhelm me. Yes, it is a big job, but just break it down into chunks, and try to be mindful and present for each one. It could be like a meditation!
Sure, ok. But what a lot of work! I did manage to get through the emptying, vacuuming, washing and vinegar-rinsing of the food-containing cabinets, as well as the inspection, cleaning and sometimes disposal of all of the food, and the re-stocking and organizing of all of the food-containing cabinets, all in one day. I now have clean and pretty cabinets, but frustratingly found NOTHING in the way of moth evidence. And as soon as I wrapped up the project, what did I see? A fluttering moth. (Killed it.)
In the midst of this, while I was scrubbing and trying hard to channel my despair, my 2nd-grader said, “Mom, why don’t we look on the computer to see if there are any natural predators of the moths?" I’m thinking, “surely not," but I let her lead me to the desk where I typed in “pantry moth natural predator." Hey, guess what? THERE ARE!!! Yes!!! And many thanks to her 1st-grade teacher Ms. Maguire for putting this idea in her head.
Oh, sweet relief. I now have my pantry moth traps in each of the “pantry" cabinets for monitoring, and my order is in to Planet Natural for a 3-pack of Trichogramma Wasp pupae. I can’t wait until they get here. You may be alarmed at this, but these are not the sort of “wasps" you are probably thinking of. They DO NOT sting or harm humans or pets. Apparently, they are really tiny little things, hard actually to see, and they kill moths by laying their own eggs into the moth eggs, killing the moth pupae. As long as these marvelous little wasps find moth eggs to eat, they grow their colony. Once the moth population has been wiped out, the wasps die off (no more food). Total bonus? They go after clothes moths, too, and I have had problems with those suckers as well. Here is a great blog post from someone who has already had success with this: "Trichogramma Wasps: How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths Easily and Cheaply". And here is a German site that has some great information (in English) about these awesome little “beneficial insects".
I think it’s funny that I did not think of this before, since I had already learned to make peace with the spiders and house centipedes who keep the ants and silverfish under control. I was having a bit of a problem with the silverfish, in particular (they gross me out), but I really have had no problems since I started leaving the centipedes alone. I even made my husband rescue one from the sink once, when it was stuck there. (Quick! Scurry away where I can’t see you!)
Now I think I have made a full embrace of integrated pest management, and the next time I have a pest problem, you can bet (or at least, I hope) this will be my first thought: “What would like to eat this pest?" I think I need a fox or a coyote for those pesky chipmunks.
Follow-up note: I received my little containers with the wasp eggs. They are SO TINY! I noticed a few had hatched after a day or so, and all I could see was some teeny-tiny little dark-gray spots moving around on the edge of the container. You would need good eyes and a magnifying glass to make out anything about these creatures. They won’t have any trouble getting into tight places to find and destroy all of the moth eggs!