Kitchen Tips: Controlling and Preventing Common Pantry Pests

Have you ever gone to your pantry and found bugs in the flour, cornmeal, or breakfast cereal?  While this experience can be quite unappetizing, it is far from uncommon.  Many insects eat the same things that we eat, and they have an amazing way of perpetuating their species by stowing away in pantry items.

The Most Common Pantry Pests
Although the insects that survive by feeding on food that is stored for humans probably number in the hundreds, there are only a few insects that make up the greatest percentage of pantry pests.

•    Indian Meal Moths
•    Saw-toothed Grain Beetles
•    Dermestid Beetles
•    Granary Weevils
•    Rice Weevils
•    Bean Weevils
•    Drugstore or Cigarette Beetles
•    Spider Beetles

Oftentimes, the first sign of a pest infestation occurs with the observation of the adult form of the insects in or around opened food containers.  In the case of Indian meal moths, the adults are small, grayish-red moths that can be seen flying around areas where food is stored.  The weevils and beetles appear as small, brownish bugs.  Upon closer inspection, the insects in their worm-like larva stage can usually be detected, as well as waste material that they leave behind such as shed skin.  The eggs of pantry pests are often too small to be seen with the human eye, or they may blend in with the food that they are laid in.

Pantry pests can be found in unopened packages of food, as well.  These survivalists are equipped in such a way that they can easily chew through paper, cardboard, or even tinfoil packaging.  They are prevalent year-round and frequently hitch a ride from the grocery store warehouse to your home, where they can multiply and spread to other foodstuffs at will.

Pest Control and Prevention
Addressing a possible pantry pest infestation involves finding the source of the problem, if possible.  Sometimes this can be hard to do since these insects multiply quickly and can hide in unopened food packages.

Here are some handy pest control tips:
•    Only buy small packages of food that can be used within a couple of months.
•    Inspect packaging of food before purchasing to make sure there is no damage and to ensure that seals are unbroken.
•    When possible, store dry foods such as flour, beans, pasta, rice, etc. in glass jars with screw-on lids.  Better yet, a supply of plastic containers with air-tight lids is the perfect solution for storing dry goods.
•    Keep pantry shelves clean, uncluttered, and vacuumed regularly to discourage all kinds of insects.
•    If you do find a pest infestation, do not treat with insecticide.  Treating with potentially dangerous insecticides is not very effective because pantry pests lay their eggs in the food and not in the pantry. Call us.
•    Be sure to inspect your pet’s food and bird seed, as well.

Any pest infestation can be a big problem if they ever get a good start and are allowed to proliferate.  In the case of pantry pests, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound or two of cure. Call U.S. Pest today for more information.