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Aunt Norma's

PANTRY MOTHS IN DRYWALL? (Follow up)

FOLLOW UP QUESTION:
Hello,

I contacted you back in September about a new moth infestation. We had only one a day for a few weeks but we still cleaned out everything, threw out everything we could, froze food we couldn't throw away and sprayed with your spray. We did find 2 empty cocoons and 3 larva. We went 6 months w/o seeing anything and now that the weather is nice for us, we are seeing them again. After 6 months we saw one and went 5 more weeks till seeing another.

So I went back to square one and am doing all we're supposed to - gutting the pantry, spraying, etc. I know the right things to do, having read lots about the beasts. Last night, as I had removed all the shelves and soaked them in bleach, I found one live moth, no other visible evidence.

Here's our problem, our pantry is set up with metal shelving drilled into dry wall. Our concern now is that the moths have gotten behind the dry wall. We have found no moth evidence in food whatsoever - either now or in September. So I don't even know what they came in on. We never found a "source". Since they have returned, we obviously didn't get them all the first time. Behind the dry wall is the only logical conclusion.

However, we unless we tare out the walls, how on earth do we reach them? We thought of drilling larger holes and stink bombing to fumigate behind the dry wall, but the warning labels warn against this. We are now thinking of drilling larger holes and spraying a bee/moth killer into the holes and having it permeate the enclosed areas. I would gladly continue using the spray we bought from you but it does not "fog" out in a fumigating manner. We need something to fill an enclosed space.

I run my own company and need my kitchen to be out of commission as few days as possible! However, I am willing to do what it takes to make this the last time we need to deal with these things.

Do you have any suggestions???? Please help. I want to get rid of these things for GOOD!
AUNT NORMA'S RESPONSE:
Argh!!  That must be so frustrating!  Can you tell me where, exactly, you found the cocoons?  That might help.  In the meantime- don't panic yet.  Because of the microscopic nature of the eggs, and the fact that one stupid moth can lay so many (up to 300), it is really hard to "get" them all.  the trick to effectively abolishing these pests is to interrupt their life cycle and keep them away from a food source.  Even IF they are coming in from behind the wall- you can still make the kitchen an inhospitable host and they will eventually die off and or stop coming in and find someplace else to go.  You need to put out ONE (and only one or they get their sonar confused) moth trap near but not IN the pantry; spray the food areas with the spray at least once a week (you don't have to do the full clean out every week, just touch up with the spray to keep the scent fresh); and keep the food as safe and protected as possible.  Keep everything you can in the freezer.  After my moth issue, I now keep my flour and spices I don't use often in the freezer on a regular basis without any ill effects.  Get rid of old stuff you don't use often, and keep things in double containers (like a Ziploc bag inside a glass sealed container).  Don't leave crumbs out on anything- like measuring cups or counter tops.  I stored groups of smaller items, like spices, pudding mix, and product packets, in large glass sealed bins.  That way the moths have a harder time getting to the items, and IF they do, you can easily see which item/ group has been affected and get rid of it.  You want your pantry to contain only the bare minimum of food that you use everyday.
 
Make sure trash is sealed and removed regularly, change vacuum bags or clean canisters (or spray moth spray in the canister), and watch to make sure that no moths fly out when you open the refrigerator.
 
If you take this approach and make it a way of life for awhile, you will get rid of them.  I know the urge is to want them gone TODAY...but the truth is it can take awhile and also, while you are dealing with them, stay calm and know that you are doing the right things and that it's just a matter of time.  The moths, in all actuality, don't really hurt anything (gross as they are) and don't make your kitchen "unsanitary".  Most professional restaurants deal with pantry moths at some time, and much of the product we buy at the store has moth eggs allowed by the FDA.  I'm only telling you this to help with the emotional trauma of having them- it isn't the same as, say, having cockroaches or flys, etc.  You CAN carry on normally while dealing with them. 
 
IF the problem gets worse, or if you just can't bear it, then drilling some holes in the walls and spraying moth spray might help, but you might ALSO open up a new place for them to hide and nest, so it's a bit of a gamble.  If you want to try to "smoke" them out, and want an alternative to the chemical bombs (I don't know the safety issues with using one in an enclosed space but would heed the label warning), you could try getting some Clove or Citronella incense and lighting it and sticking one end in tech whole (just watch and don't leave unattended to make sure nothing catches fire for goodness sake!)    Also- IF you drill the holes, you could try sprinkling some diatomaceous earth inside...it is basically tiny mineralized particles that act like razors when the insect or larvae comes in contact with it.  However, do some research before using this, most people swear by it, but it does pose some risks, like you have to wear a mask and be very careful not to breath it or let pets breath it as it can damage the lungs.
 
I wouldn't start drilling holes yet, though.  try the other approach and wait it out a bit.  Hopefully, you are nipping it in the bud.  Good luck and please keep me posted or let me know if there's anything else I can do to help.
 
RESPONSE:
Thank you so much for getting back to us so promptly.   I found the cocoons last September.  Our shelving is wooden, tongue-in-grove style.  They were hiding in two of the grooves where one shelf slides into another.   They were close to the drywall and up on higher shelves and in only 1 of my 2 pantries.
 
This time around, I did not find any empty cocoons like last time.  However, the live moths I have seen have flown out of pantry #2 this time.   They are up high and close to where the holes are for the shelving.  Those things along with not finding any larva or cocoons this time are what leads us to believe they may be shaking up behind the drywall.
 
I am calling around to local garden stores to see if they carry clove or citronella incense.  I am not having much luck.  They are suggesting I call a psychic who might sell incense.  :)  We will try this and also put out more traps.  Any idea whether soaking a rag or paper in your spray or clove essential oil then stuffing it behind the drywall would be effective?
 
Thanks,
Deb
 
AN:   Well, it's good that you didn't find any cocoons this time... they maybe haven't started "nesting" or setting up shop yet.  Hopefully you can discourage them from doing so altogether.  I would look for incense online- might save you some leg work...the citronella or clove aren't that common at stores.  I did a Google search and came up with several- price range from $6-$24... here's one:
 
 
Good luck!  Please let me know how it goes.  Thank You!  Oh- sorry I forgot to answer the other question.  Yes- soaking a rag or even just spraying some near the areas where they might be coming in could be helpful.  Also- are the moths in the SAME pantry as you saw them last time or in the other one?
 
RESPONSE: 
The moths are in the OTHER pantry this time- ugh.  Tonight my husband pulled off the baseboards inside the pantry and found a bunch of dead larva stage ones.  They looked like maybe they had died and been there awhile. 
 
Thanks for the info on clove and Citronella on-line.  We appreciate your help!
Deb
 
AN:  Oh no...that's NOT good- although at least you are getting clues about the source of the infestation. (and at least they were DEAD!!)  You might want to research the Diatomaceous Earth... it could be a good thing to sprinkle inside the baseboard area before putting the boards back.  It will also keep spiders and ants out!  I actually think I'm going to order some myself and put in the guest room where we have a lot of spiders.  Let me know how things go and if you have any more questions- I'm happy to help.
 
 
 
 

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