Warning to the weak of stomach:  Read no further if you are easily grossed out.

Let me say first that I am not a filthy person.  Nor am I a clean freak…but I do keep my house and self up to a standard that would pass health inspection.  I don’t dust the top of the refrigerator more often than about once a year (who looks??) and I’m not great about floor scrubbing.  I do find green stuff growing in the forgotten containers in the back of the fridge, but they’re removed before they start crawling out the door.

So when I noticed a few little things fluttering around the kitchen, I wasn’t overly alarmed.  I’ve had these pantry moths before, from time to time…I bring in some nice organic rice or crackers and those little organic bugs hatch out and start partying.  I sigh and go through all my foodstuffs, toss everything that looks like it might possibly be a nice home for them, seal up the rest, and  that’s it.  But this time, I was too busy, kept putting it off…it’s not the most fun task and it takes a fair amount of time.

Fluttering wings over the kitchen table, flutters in front of the tv screen.  I swatted or brushed them away. A few days ago i saw something wiggling on the ceiling and Jerry knocked it down…we put it on the table and watched this cute little caterpillar hunching along, then carefully escorted it to the garbge can where it could happily munch.  The next day I saw a couple dangling on webs, and then I got out a skillet and one plopped into it. I had to face the fact that these were not charming visitors, these were pantry moth maggots!  The word maggot is nasty–I have a maggot story that I just can’t share here–so I could call them larvae, or caterpillars, but a maggot is a maggot.  These weren’t maggots bred on feces, and the pantry moths aren’t dirty like roaches or flies, after all, they’re harmless, and probably a good source of protein.

But then I checked my ceiling…oh my god…there were a couple dozen crawling across it. Vacuumed up pronto.  That was it.  I tore everything out of the pantry and all the cabinets that contained anything remotely food-like, scrubbed and sprayed….and still they gathered, with their adult counterparts, mostly in the corner above the fridge.  We cleared the top of it and found the source…a bag of cashews I’d tossed up there and forgotten about it.  Out it went, the fridge was pulled out, cleaned behind, and still they are gathering.

Today was warm, so instead of my coat I grabbed the jean jacket that was hanging on a hook next to the pantry.  Jerry started picking at my back…a maggot.  And another, and another. I ripped off my jacket and the inside of it was crawling with them!  Yeah, I got all girly and screamed.  And shuddered.  The jacket remains out in the rain, and now I have to go through EVERYthing in my kitchen, the linens in the drawers, the dishtowels, all of it…in hopes of eradicating these beasts.

Maggots are not bad.  They’re part of nature, they do a job.  Pantry moths must have a reason for being. Buddhists meditate on maggots.  I do not want to live with them.  I googled…seems they are almost impossible to get rid of.  They are called Indian Meal Moths. Read all about them here: I’ve found them nesting in my stores of expensive computer paper, they could be anywhere at all.  Pennyroyal and bay leaves are supposed to help…I’ll try that.

Meanwhile, my blog name, Drawing Flies, seems to have a whole new meaning….



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10 Responses to “Invasion”

  1. artwordstea Says:

    eeeeeeeyyyyyoooooooo!!!!!!!!! oh it makes my skin crawl just to think about it!!!!!!!

  2. jerry with a j Says:

    Well, join the club: google “math maggots” and find they are pretty popular.
    Little baby Mothras.

  3. Patti O Says:

    Oh I have had them a few times at various times in my life. Throw away anything that is open, and check anything that isn’t. They can bore through cardboard, and plastic bags quite easily. It is a good excuse to totally clean out your pantry. Everything out of the closets, vacuum, wash if necessary, and only put back things that you are SURE that they haven’t invaded. Go to Mother Earth, get a mixture of the herbs that they don’t like, as well as some muslin drawstring bags, and spoon the mixture into the bags and hang several in the food pantry and about the kitchen.

    I have successfully eradicated them a few times. They come in the food that you buy….hatch, and invade.

    You coat, that is pretty gross I have to say……as bad as Megan moving, taking down her curtains, and while doing so, an entire army of spiders hatched and attacked her, sending her SCREAMING to the showers, causing Alanna to wonder WTF is up with her mother!!! lol

    It will be fine, just a pain in the ass. Perfect timing however for you to clean and organize before the holidays.


  4. susan Says:

    eww! I’ve noticed an increase in those mossy cobwebs around the house… sounds like it’s infestation time for some reason! ick!


  5. Karen Says:

    I have two tactics in the battle of non-pesticide food vs. the moths.
    I freeze rice, etc a few days to kill off any eggs (gross yuck but they are everywhere since the beginning of stored food.

    I also put everything in jars, tupperware, and if something gets infested it gets contained.

    ahh at least they’re not roaches

    hey lets get together one of these days….for some unmindfullness

  6. Jessica Says:

    I have those sickening little beggars invading right now! makes me sick to spot little maggots escaping through my home. I’m going nuts. they were breeding in my hermit crab’s meusli. Fighting the good fight. I guess they are fighting for survival too but not in my home thanks!

  7. KRISTEN Says:

    Thankyou so much for this site / your message!! I too have recently freaked out about these discusting creatures. And didn’t really know what they were till now. The boyfriend keeps the door and the pantry door wide open like all the time and I’m bugged out and going crazy. I made a beautiful dinner and there were those little bastards sitting on top – YuKK!!! Hope I can get rid of them, the man is conveniently @ work while I clean it up. You’re in big trouble Mister! xo

  8. Rich Suchoski Says:

    Hi! The image of your Indian Meal Moth was the first to show on the Google image search of “pantry flies” (Autocomplete of ‘pantry f’, I never knew what the proper name for the bloody things were, thanks!), so I figure this would be the most appropriate place to disseminate my knowledge from a similar encounter.

    Use glue traps, use *lots* of them. Get 4x the number you think you need, and you will still need more. Shopping around found this site with the best price at 108 of them for $55 ($.51/trap) or 216 for $89 ($.41/trap) + free shipping!:

    I *highly* recommend getting 216 of them. When I was first fighting them I was going through 2/day for a month, and that was a very minor infestation compared to what you describe. Eventually it tapered off and now we keep one up there but haven’t had to change it for months, only need to change it when the glue gets too much dust on it to be sticky anymore.

    On a similar note, we also had a problem with cave crickets, the ‘tiger crickets’ with the freakishly large hind legs and jump any which way when you approach them, when we first moved in. We went through 6 traps/day for a month and a half to get them under control! But like the pantry flies the ones caught in the traps were smaller and smaller until they petered out and we have to change them when they are too dusty to trap the occasional passerby.

    Hope that helps to you all + whoever else wanders this way!

  9. Karen Says:

    I am in hell with these freaken moths!!! Its been over 8 months since the first invasion! It was bird seed, cleaned and threw everything out!! EEESH they got into my cat litter (expensive organic corn litter)….aaaaahhh saw worms crawling up my wall in my bathroom! I’ve been fighting them ever since! Now I found a bunch of them hanging off the screen to my fireplace! WTF??? I cannot get rid of them! Everything is in the fridge. I think its the garbage can they are now feasting off of! These things are gross and I’m not afraid of bugs! HELP ME!!!

  10. loelbarr Says:

    OH NOOOOO! I think you may have to MOVE! I don’t know that I can tell you anything I didn’t already mention, but check some of the other comments, and if I were you I’d call an exterminator pronto. I talked to someone who actually had to have walls torn out to get rid of them. I see a few from time to time, so mine aren’t completely gone, but there at a level I can deal with. Thanks for the warning about cat litter…I was using that corn stuff too!

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