April 28, 2022

The Story of My Crazy-Bad Day

Since I usually post about running on Thursdays and I didn't start my running plan this week, I figured I would write about my crazy day on Monday. Tuesday? I can't even remember--it was a blur of a couple of days because I was moving non-stop.

This is a very long story. Hopefully entertaining, though!

In the morning, I decided to put the ingredients for split pea soup in the crockpot (surprisingly, it's one of my kids' favorite meals!). I also wanted to cook some rice to put in the fridge for Noah so that he could make fried rice for his lunches, something he really likes.

I prepped the stuff for the crockpot and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I noticed it was full, so I put the detergent in there and started it. It made a very weird noise and then stopped completely. I tried again. Same thing. I pulled out the filter and cleaned that, but it wasn't really dirty--I just didn't know what else to do except wait for Jerry to wake up (when he works nights, he sleeps until early afternoon).

I laid on the floor to see if I could see anything under the dishwasher that might have caused the problem, and then a very loud alarm sounded. It sounded like the smoke detector, but the pitch was different and I realized it was the carbon monoxide detector.

It had chirped a few days prior and I changed the battery (the number of chirps determines what the problem is). This time, it chirped five times in a row, and then before I could even get off the floor and go to check on it, it chirped five more times. Five times means it needs to be replaced. So, I figured I'd put Noah's rice in the rice cooker and then look for a new carbon monoxide detector on Amazon.

I measured out the rice and then when I started adding the water, I noticed that a couple of grains of rice were moving. I was totally grossed out when I discovered that they were little worms/larvae! The bag of rice was huge (I always buy a big bag of it because we eat a lot of rice) but I obviously didn't want to eat it. I assumed the rice was contaminated when I bought it from the grocery store and I even thought of taking it back to the store.

I was annoyed at this point, because the dishwasher wasn't working and the carbon monoxide detector kept chirping and then I found larvae in the rice. All before 8:00 in the morning. 

I threw the bag away and then grabbed a bag of brown rice (I have probably five different types of rice in the house--like I said, we like our rice! haha). I inspected it through the bag because I was now paranoid that the larvae were in everything. I didn't see larvae in the bag, but I saw a bunch of things that looked like grains of sand--and it just didn't look right. I took out a third bag of rice--and found larvae.

At this point, it was obvious that it wasn't just that one large bag of rice that was contaminated. I started pulling things out of the pantry to inspect them: dried beans, rice, pasta, peas, lentils, barley, quinoa, white flour, wheat flour, everything. Even if I didn't find anything in them, I knew I wasn't going to want to eat them because I would imagine that the larvae or eggs or something were in there. Still, I looked at everything closely...

...and I realized that most of it was contaminated.

pantry moth eggs

pantry moth larvae

pantry moth eggs

I was so grossed out--and I started thinking of how we'd probably even eaten some and hadn't known it. My whole body felt itchy and I imagined bugs crawling on me. I wanted to know what these things were and how they got there (I swear, my house isn't gross and dirty!). I did a little searching online and then it hit me.

They are pantry moths. And I knew exactly when and how they got inside my house.

I buy 50-pound bags of in-shell peanuts from an animal-feed store (the peanuts are meant for animals, not people). Usually, I put the bag right into the garage because it's huge and I don't want to store it in the pantry. Well, the last time we bought them, Noah picked them up on his way home from school, and he brought them into the house. They sat in the house for a day before I took them out to the garage.

When I was pouring the peanuts into a 5-gallon bucket (we seal the bucket and keep that in the house to feed the squirrels, then refill it as needed), I noticed a couple of tiny moths fly out. I didn't really think anything of it--the peanuts are animal-grade and they are in a huge mesh bag, so I always expect that there are some bugs in there.

Over the next week or so, I noticed a couple of tiny moths by the back door; but living across from a marsh, it's not that unusual for a pest to get inside now and then. We have the house sprayed in the spring which minimizes summer bugs, but with it being so cold this year, we haven't had the bug spray guy come out yet.

When I read the info online about the pantry moths, it clicked for me instantly.

A few sites compared them to bed bugs because they spread fast and are hard to get rid of. By this time, my whole body was itching like crazy. To be sure to get rid of them and keep them out, you have to basically get rid of everything that isn't in an air-tight jar or can. The larvae and moths can eat through cardboard, paper, and plastic. After that, you have to inspect every surface, every can, jar, literally everything in the pantry for the cocoons--the larvae like little crevices, so they are hard to find. (Is your skin crawling yet? Haha)

The thing is, my pantry is huge. It's one of the things I like most about our house! When we chose the layout, there was a "sunroom" between the master bedroom and the kitchen, and I didn't really see a need for it. So I asked them to split it in half and make one side a walk-in closet for the master bedroom and the other side a pantry in the kitchen. So, the pantry is much bigger than your average pantry. Not cool when dealing with pantry moths!

I grabbed some garbage bags (which were in the pantry) and when I pulled the first one out, I noticed a cocoon on the garbage bag! I just started going through each shelf and tossing anything that could be contaminated into the garbage bags. I felt sick about all of that wasted food! 

Then I grabbed a super bright flashlight, some rags and a vinegar solution (which kills the eggs/larvae), and the shop-vac. I took everything out of the pantry--all of the cans and jars and everything--wiped it down and looked for signs of cocoons.

I keep my cookbooks in the pantry, and I even went through all of those--I found a couple of cocoons between the spine and the pages of a couple of books. I keep extra wrapping paper in the pantry (and found cocoons under the outer layer of the rolls); reusable bags (found cocoons); and a few other things (which thankfully weren't contaminated).

I couldn't believe it. How did I not see them before?! 

After I took everything out of the pantry, I went through it with the flashlight, looking in every possible nook or cranny I could find. I even found a larva under the edge of the contact paper I had on the shelves. I vacuumed every little speck I could see, and then cleaned everything with the vinegar solution until the pantry was cleaner than the day we moved in.

Meanwhile, my kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off, with stuff everywhere. I cleaned all of the cans and jars as I put them back into the pantry. Then I looked on Amazon for a carbon monoxide detector... and a huge pack of air-tight food storage containers.

We've always used little plastic clips to "seal" bags after opening them and I assumed that was good enough. It's definitely not, as I discovered. I keep the sugar and flour in Tupperware containers but I checked them anyway. I found larvae in the sugar! I realized it was from a couple of days prior when I took a bag of sugar from the pantry and poured it into the sugar container.

Thankfully, Amazon had same-day delivery, so the containers were delivered that night. I went shopping in the morning to replace the dried goods. It wasn't nearly as expensive as I was imagining (thankfully all of my spices were in air-tight jars!) and I brought everything home. At the store, I even inspected each item I bought--I was imagining these larvae everywhere. 

When I got home, I put everything into food storage containers and then into the pantry. Noah couldn't believe how empty and spotless it looked. It was gleaming and I no longer felt the creepy crawlies when looking at the food.

And then.

Duck was bugging me for treats, so naturally the rest of the pets came into the kitchen when they heard me getting treats for him. While the cats were eating theirs, I opened Joey's treat jar to get him a treat and I saw a moth. I slammed the lid down and realized my mistake--the one thing I hadn't checked was the pet treats. They aren't in the pantry, but on a shelf next to the refrigerator, so I didn't think of it. (I did check their food, which I keep sealed in storage containers, and it was fine.)

Joey's treat jar is was kind of like a cookie jar in that the lid didn't seal, but basically just sat on top of it. I lifted the jar to look at the bottom (it was clear glass), and it was like looking at ground zero for the stupid pantry moths. I lost count after eight moths and there were I-don't-even-know-how-many larvae in there.

I grabbed some packing tape and sealed the jar the best I could in those circumstances, and threw it in the trash outside. (In retrospect, I should have dumped a little vinegar in there first.)

After looking around AGAIN and making sure I didn't miss a single thing, I felt satisfied. If I hadn't discovered Joey's treat jar issue right away, who knows how long it would have been before the moths came back. 

These are the food storage containers I bought. (Amazon affiliate link) They came in a pack of 24 various-sized containers (with labels). I like them!

food storage containers

Things I learned either from this experience or reading on the web:

- Store all food in air-tight food storage containers. The little plastic bag clips don't count.
- Inspect food before bringing it into the house (most people who find pantry moths unknowingly brought them home in a contaminated item from the store).
- Only buy what will fit into the containers (I can't store an extra bag of flour in the pantry, for instance, unless it's in a sealed container).
- Pantry moths don't mean that your house is dirty; like I said, they are usually brought inside from a contaminated food item (like a box of pasta, for instance, which then gets put on a shelf).
- The food doesn't have to be expired or old for them to camp out. Most of the food in my pantry was relatively new; and definitely not expired.
- Finally, don't ever EVER bring animal-grade peanuts into the house! Hahaha. 

It was a very exhausting lesson to learn. And yes, Joey got new treats! Poor dog.

And on the seventh day, she rested. (Well, it was the third day, but it felt like seven!)


  1. Wow. I have read stories about pantry moths but have never seen one yet (knock on wood!). One thing I do try to do is whenever I buy rice and flour, I always put the bags in the freezer for 24 hours before transferring to airtight containers. This kills any larvae that might be in the bags. Kind of gross to think they're in there in the first place, but at least they're dead! I should do this with dried beans as well, I have never thought of that.

  2. I just went through this same thing. We now have everything in containers as well but I’m still seeing a few pantry moths ( not always in the kitchen). I’m not sure how to completely get rid of them.

  3. Yikes!!! No need for you to run that day. You got a full body workout.

  4. Omg what?! I have never heard of these before!! I shouldn't have been eating my breakfast while reading this story lol! ;) Wow I am going straight home tonight after work and looking over my entire pantry. I am so sorry you had to deal with this! But I also appreciate that this is making me aware of such of a thing! Ugh what a pain!

  5. Def. have my skin crawling now! We had a mouse infestation a couple years ago and did similar things with the air tight containers...but I only bake one or two times a year and am now wondering about my flour...and sugar...

  6. *Runs off to inspect pantry in a panic* Lol!

  7. Yep, I'll be cleaning my pantry this weekend.

  8. Yes, what a pain! I've never heard of those, but we had some little brown ?bugs in our dry goods. They weren't moving, but we had to get rid of flour and pasta. They had to have come right from the grocery store, and there were a lot of the things!

  9. O.M.G. I swear the larvae in rice is one of my biggest nightmares - I seriously have had dreams about them. I am truly horrified for you, that sounds like an awful experience. I would be scarred/traumatized for a VERY long time after that. Cool containers, I'm going to have my husband order some. Immediately. Like yesterday.

  10. We had the same thing happen with birdseed. The bag was in our garage briefly and a few came in our house. Thankfully it wasn't as bad but we never do anything except leave it outside now. They are awful!

  11. That is crazy! I never heard of them before. If you wanted to buy flour ahead (I do a lot of baking and always have lots of extra flour), I keep mine in one of those big plastic totes.

  12. I've not dealt with pantry moths, but living in a 120+ year old house in the country, mice are a constant problem, basically no matter what you do. I don't live in the country any more, but almost everything in my cupboards is kept in glass jars with airtight lids because once you find mouse chewed holes in anything, its like the moths- you will change everything you possibly can so you never have to deal with it again.

  13. UGH! This gave me the sweats! We have had them too! Brought in from a contaminated cereal box from the store. It is NO JOKE! I've started keeping our nuts and rice in the freezer for this very reason! Hopefully you don't find another source!


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