Food butterflies: how to prevent their invasion!

Food butterflies: how to prevent their invasion!

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There Plodia interpunctella, more commonly known as food butterfly, is a common parasite that feeds on cereals and similar products. It is precisely for this reason that the food butterflies they may be able to infest a wide range of dry foods of plant origin, such as cereals, bread, pasta, rice, couscous, flour, spices, dried fruit and nuts, but also chocolate and cocoa beans, coffee and biscuits. Food butterflies can also infest commercial bird food.

What to do in case of food butterflies

If you've found larvae or moths, that's important trash food sources which are not placed in hermetically sealed containers.

Moth larvae can infest food even if it is stored in plastic bags and thin cardboard, so even unopened packages can be contaminated by these insects.

Also, it is good to keep the food butterflies they are also notoriously difficult to get rid of, and can crawl onto ceilings and into rooms other than the kitchen or pantry, where they were born. The larvae are able to travel significant distances before pupating. Therefore, when looking for the source of an infestation, the search cannot be limited to the immediate area where the pupae are discovered, as they may have already spread to different areas of the house.

Use thermal changes

None of the organism stages (eggs, larvae, adults) of the food butterflies is very tolerant to temperature and, therefore, these insects can be killed by freezing or heating in a microwave or conventional oven.

Cleaning infested areas in the kitchen and pantry with a mixture of soap and water or vinegar is also effective, as it removes any remaining eggs.

Moths can also be deterred from their presence in a given area by using essential oils and non-toxic insecticides. It is more effective to treat the infestation by eliminating the source and the affected foods, thus interrupting their mating process and repelling them from the areas where dry foods and cereals are stored. It is recommended to eliminate the source of infestation first and only then the larvae, eggs and any moths in the environment.

Read also: What do butterflies eat

Prevent easy shelter

The best way to eliminate the possibility of an infestation is to prevent moths from finding easy shelter in their own home.

The easiest way to identify this pest is when you see a butterfly-shaped insect flying around the pantry. This usually happens at night rather than during the day. You can also find these insects in the form of cocoons. The larvae usually move to other places away from food sources to become pupae (for example, found in shelf crevices, door frames, or door hinges).

Tips for removing the infestation of food butterflies

To be able to prevent the onset of moths in your home, you need to follow some steps that will help you remove the existing infestation risks and also to prevent the recurrence of an infestation.


  • throw away all infested food. Any food showing signs of contamination should be disposed of immediately; in case of doubts about an open food package, it can be stored in the freezer for about a week. Low temperatures will eliminate any moth eggs that cannot be detected with the naked eye;
  • empty the pantry and vacuum all over the place, also cleaning shelves and cabinets with a mixture of soap and water or vinegar, as it also helps keep moths away;
  • be sure to clean the shelves on the underside as well, because moths can hide here, or lay eggs;
  • vacuum all slots, the corners, edges and joints of the walls, doors, furniture and washes inside the hinges and door frames, as these are places where moth larvae are frequently found;
  • take all contaminated food and the garbage bag outside the room and store them in a closed bin until they are discarded forever;
  • wash all food containers with warm water and dish soap, or use a drop of chlorine;
  • dries all furniture thoroughly before using them, because humid spaces are the favorite places of these insects and are conducive to their development.

Natural methods to disinfect the kitchen from food butterflies

There are several natural methods that you can use to disinfest the kitchen from food butterflies. Using flavored oils and plants such as laurel, lavender, cedar, cedar and mint, you can for example keep moths away; put lavender or bay leaves in the corners of the pantry or cupboard. You can also glue the sheets to the walls or the bottom of your shelves.

Add a bay leaf directly to your container of flour, rice or other dry food. It shouldn't affect the quality of the food, but if you still prefer not to, you could at least stick the bay leaf inside the lid and still get the desired effect.

Finally, we remind you that some essential oils, including peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass and tea tree oils, can strengthen the effect of prevention and "cure" in this situation. Just add a few drops of oil to a low pressure sprayer filled with vinegar and spray the surfaces before rubbing them. To prevent infestation, keep food in glass, metal or plaster airtight.

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