Infestation of unidentified moth-like flying critters

Our apartment has recently become home to some small flying insects that are mothlike in appearance, quite small though (a bit smaller than the diameter of a dime), medium-dark grey, sort of wedge-shaped overall, fuzzy-looking wings; easy to pick off with a napkin (they don’t dodge effectively); they have an affinity for our bathroom especially the towels where 1-2 of them have to be brushed away to pick up one’s towel after a bath.

I will try to snap a pic next time I see one; meanwhile, does this descrip lead anyone to suggest an identity for our visitors?

Sounds like you’ve got an infestation of the apple moth. They go away pretty quick and do not multiply like a fruit fly - be thankful - if that is what you have.

Could be a brown house moth too.

I was thinking pantry moths. They’re lethargic and easy to swat, but hard to eliminate b/c they’re great at reproducing their larvae in the strangest places, like in the threads of the caps on jars of food. They can also eat through plastic; your rice, flour and sugar are not safe even in unopened bags.

We used pheromone traps to eliminate ours.

All the lit on them that I see talks about them being in California. I’m in a New York apartment. Does that substantially reduce the likelihood?

They sound a lot like drain flies to me, especially since you say they’re grey, fuzzy, fly slowly, and are usually found in your bathroom. They’re usually pretty small, though — less than a 1/4" across.

I had these once also, I think they came in with a bag of rice. They’ll lay eggs in anything not sealed tightly (flour, etc.) and are a real pain in the arse. I got rid of them by sealing everything up tightly in canisters, cleaning/spraying out the cupboards and not buying any more cheap rice.

On second thought, they might have been meal moths.


Meal moths and pantry moths seem to be the same thingies, based on the websites I’ve scoured.

We’ve hung pheromone-baited glue traps specific to pantry moths, we’ll see if that gets 'em.

I strongly suggest going through your cupboards and finding where they’re living.

I say this for two reasons:

  1. I’ve never found traps that really get rid of them. They help, but the most effective way to get them out of your house is to find what they’re eating & breeding in.

  2. It really, really sucks when you do find where they were living & breeding. I know this from experience. You pull out that box/bag of nuts/crackers/whatever, stick your hand in and come out covered with little white worms. You then spend the next 5-10 decades expecting moths to come out of everything you keep in your cupboards.

It’s usually not to hard to find where they live. Just start emptying your cupboards and look at everything. If you see little white worms, you’re close.

Not just the worms, but the stringy messy what-on-earth-is-that stuff that shows they’ve been inhabiting your food. It’s kinda like a spider web.

I found them nesting IN THE THREADS of a CLOSED JAR.
A closed, glass jar designed to hold flour, sugar, etc.

They also LOVE garlic bulbs.
It took us about a year to eliminate those moths.

And the really stupid thing is, I saw the one that started it all. She flew into our corner cabinet one day last fall. It’s really deep and hard to get all the way into, but I should’ve taken the time to chase her out - those little puffy moth ankles were a dead giveaway that she was preggers. But no, I didn’t. Never thought one little bug could wreak so much havoc.

Our corner cabinet now holds nothing but empty Jif jars.

My worst moth story:

I had my parents over and we had a really nice dinner, just the four of us. White tablecloth, candles, the whole 9 yards. I made Bananas Foster for dessert. At the last minute, I remembered I had some almonds that would be good sprinkled on top. It was dark (candles, remember?) but I found the almonds and sprinkled them on all our dishes.

Later that night, while cleaning up, the lights were on. The almond bag was full of that stringy we-are-moths-and-we-love-nuts stuff. Yup, we ate 'em.

I didn’t mention it to anyone else. I still get a little sick thinking about it.

My brother calls the ones infesting his house millers-- I’m not sure that’s their real name. But the house is only an hour or two north of NYC.

The worms have been found in bread crumbs, sesame seeds, breakfast cereal (already in the bowl with milk on it), and who knows what all else. They REALLY liked a package of almonds found who knows where, but now residing in the trash can.

I second (or third, or whatever) the recommendation to identify the source, if it’s pantry moths. We had a pretty bad infestation shortly after moving into this house. They primarily seemed to be inside the oatmeal container, but I found traces of them in a lot of other dry goods as well. I finally just decided to exercise the nuclear option, and threw away everything in my pantry that wasn’t inside a sealed metal or glass container. It sucked because it was the equivalent of probably around $200 (at least) worth of food, but by god, the damn moths were gone afterward.

Ever since I suffered through the darn things, I’ve tried to kill every one I see. Saw one this week, as a matter of fact. I caught it and squished it. Grrr. That’s another method of keeping them away - my scorched-earth policy of “all moths will be squished upon sight”.

OK, I don’t have pantry moths, but we do have these tiny black bugs that have become the bane of our existence since the beginning of summer. They can fly, and I find them on the ceiling, walls and counters. Plus, they love dried goods like pantry moths do. I opened an already-opened box of brown rice the other day and it was infested with those bugs. (Did the got-the-willies dance all the way to the trashcan). I’ve found them in the threads of jar lids as well.

What do we have, and do I also need to throw out all of my dried goods?

Read recent threads, grabbed stomach and shuddered then went off to the kitchen.

Opened every item in the pantry one shelf at a time, inspecting unopened (sealed) and opened (nearly always sealed in Ziploc bags) bags & boxes of nuts, flour, seeds, corn meal, kasha, instant gravy, instant soups, etc etc etc… nary single squirmy bug and nothing remotely like the above-described stringy messes. Went to the cabinets, repeated general process, going through tea, pasta, diet protein bars, and so forth, same results.

It did prompt a general spring (autumn?) cleaning, tossing out vast amounts of “hey we never eat this stuff” & “what’s the fresh date on that, something-oh-six you say?”… but nothing remotely larval was found.

What we find odd is that these moth-thingies don’t generally congregate around our kitchen much anyhow. We see them most often sitting on our towels on the towel rack in the bathroom, or in the clothes closet, or in the sock drawer. They like fabric!

Ours like fabric, too; our laundry room is right next to the kitchen and I’ve seen a few in there. We may be in for some unpleasant surprises as winter progresses and we dig through some stored blankets. OTOH, we’ve got more blankets than we needed anyway.

Hope your problem is resolving!

Mystery solved.

The pantry fly larvae were having a party in a feather duster, a real one. Erkk!
I am so glad we didn’t find them in our food.
My GF calls across the room that she gets credit for seeing where the moths seemed to be coming from, but admits she was in no hurry to take a closer look.


Glad you found the little buggers.

I haven’t had a problem with pantry moths since I started keeping beans, cornmeal, lentils, etc. in the freezer.