88. We've Been Invaded!!

Friday 7/8- Have you ever heard of pantry moths? If you haven’t, count yourself VERY lucky! If you have heard of them, I sure hope that it wasn’t because you had to deal with them, because we’re here to tell you THEY SUCK!!

Pantry moths are something completely different from the moths that you see outside at night and are attracted to the light, or even the ones that can eat your clothes. Pantry moths are attracted to your food instead, namely grains like flour, pasta, and things like that. BUT we also learned that once they have taken up residence in your cupboard, they aren’t picky and will get into anything that they can. We also learned that these nasty things can get into things that you wouldn’t think they should be able to. Let’s go back to the beginning for a second, though.

Way back in March when we first moved in and Taylor & Dylan were here visiting, we noticed these little moths all over in our kitchen. There would always be a couple flying around and they tended to come out of the cupboards when you opened the doors. We noticed them, but weren’t overly concerned with them, I mean, they are just moths right? How bad could they be!? We figured that they came in the wood that the cabinets were made out of and that they would probably eventually go away on their own. Fast forward to July, they still hadn’t gone away, but we still weren’t too concerned- until I found an unopened bag of something (I don’t even remember what it was at this point) that had what looked like little white worms in it. WTF IS THIS?!?! Upon further investigation we found more of these little worms and stuff that looked cross between thick spider webs and that fuzzy stuff that caterpillars spin into cocoons on various things in the cabinets. We snapped some pictures and put them up on the local Facebook groups asking what was going on in our kitchen. 

Our bag of unopened popcorn had what looked like sawdust in it.

This was a bag of flour  in a sealed container that had all the webbing in it. The webbing is actually their poo. BLAH!!!

Within minutes several people had responded that this looks like evidence of pantry moths, a couple of people gave us tips on how to deal with them or sent us internet articles on what to do, and everyone who knew what was going on apologized profusely for our misfortune, as these things are the work of the devil. Welp, I guess all of those seemingly innocent moths we’ve been dealing with for so long are anything BUT innocent!

After reading some articles online, Ramie learned a lot about pantry moths, how to fix an infestation, and how to prevent them from occurring again. The most important things that we learned were:

1) There was a pretty good chance that we got them from something that we bought that had already been contaminated at the factory, warehouse or at the store that we bought it from. Thinking back on it now, we never had issues with anything like this back at our rental house, but when Taylor & Dylan were here we shopped at a couple of new places that may have had the problem.

2) That these things can chew through sealed plastic bags that things like pasta, rice, and beans come in from the grocery store as well as Ziploc style bags, so even storing food in a sealed bag isn’t a defense.

3) The best way to prevent this from happening is to store all of your dry goods in the fridge or freezer. If you can’t store them in a fridge/freezer permanently, then at least put them in the freezer for 2 days immediately upon bringing them home from the store to kill any eggs that might be in the package.

4) If you do get an infestation- look at everything in your cabinets VERY carefully. Look for eggs in your packages of your grains, rice, pasta, dry beans, etc. (it looks like sawdust) and throw away anything that is contaminated. Freeze everything that doesn’t appear contaminated. Wash all other packages and containers in your cabinets with vinegar water and look VERY CAREFULLY for that fuzzy stuff that looks like thick spiderwebs in all corners, crevices, and threads of screw on lids and be sure to get it all.

5) After you freeze or clean all of your stuff in vinegar water, clean every surface inside of your cabinets with vinegar water paying special attention to cracks and the spaces in between where things could be hiding.

6) DO NOT RESTOCK YOUR CABINETS FOR AT LEAST 2-3 WEEKS- leave the doors open, put things like bay leaves to keep the bugs out, peppermint oil is also supposed to help.

7) Watch closely for the next several weeks for any signs of these things still being present. They say that the life cycle for one of these moths is about a month, and that you have to watch for any eggs to hatch into larvae and potentially then into the actual moth, so give it time to happen so you don’t just re-contaminate yourself.

Oh- and one other thing. These aren’t only in Costa Rica, these can happen anywhere. Your food in the US can be contaminated with this too, and some friends of ours from southern states have heard of or experienced these. 

This is not our picture but this is how bad it can get. Pic courtesy of https://wibx950.com

Armed with all of this information, Ramie got to work on the cleaning and decontamination while I was working.
He was shocked that he found these nasty things in the crevices of packages, inside some packages that they had chewed through, and just everywhere. Fortunately, we had a fair amount of stuff stored in sealed containers, but we ended up throwing away quite a bit of unopened pasta, dry beans, flour, and a few other things that they had chewed through. We also had extra boxes of Ziploc bags, aluminum foil, and parchment paper (that we brought with us from the US) that were stored in one of the cabinets that was contaminated with this nasty stuff. (Here in Costa Rica, quality versions of these items are quite difficult to find and when you do find them are very expensive, like $8 for a small roll of parchment paper, so we did NOT want to lose our stash!) We ended up taking all of these items out of their boxes, freezing it all to (hopefully) decontaminate it and saving it. 

Now, and for the next several weeks we’ll be living with all of the contents of our cabinets sitting out on our countertop and a folding table. 

At least it will be easy to spot any moths that still may be alive.

Of course, I finally just got my pantry installed so I could put all of my groceries away, and now I have to take everything out of my cabinets and leave it out again. I can just never win, huh? For the next week or so we were constantly on the lookout for moths in the kitchen. Every time we spotted one we were on a chase- it had to be killed, even if I had to chase it around half of the house in order to catch it. These things are NOT allowed to lay any more damn eggs in my food or in my house!! 

Pura Vida!


  1. I feel for you two!!! Definitely no fun!! When I lived in Southern California my roommate bought in some contaminated food. I was glad I gave her a specific cupboard to store her food. I noticed the moths flying out of her cupboard early enough, so my food was not affected. They love grains, cereals and lentils. I store tea bags soaked in peppermint oil in my pantry. It works for spiders and mice they hate peppermint too. Smells good in there too!!😘❤️🥰

    1. This was no fun at all! Just when we thought we were in the clear we would start to see one go flying by again. We definitely take precautions now and hope to never have to deal with this ever again.

  2. I can just picture you two running around the house chasing moths!

  3. Oh you should of seen us some nights, when we were watching TV. A little moth would fly in front of us and we would pause our show and start the chase. I think if anyone was watching from outside our house they would think it was the funniest sight ever and I'm sure it was..


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