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“Pantry Pests” Infest Stored Food Products

By Chris Williams on September 17, 2013.

Stored product pests food pantry

Question

What are “pantry pests?” My mother who is staying with us told me that I had pantry pests in my kitchen. I think she meant the little beetles that I see in my cupboards.

Answer

Indian meal moth

The indian meal moth is one of the insects that can ruin your stored food.

Pantry pests are an assortment of beetles, moths, and other “bugs” that feed in dried food products like flour or cereal. They can infest almost anything in your cupboard from spices to cornmeal to macaroni to chocolate candy. Pantry pests contaminate food and can give it an “off” taste. “Pantry pest” is actually an older term for what we in the industry call a stored product pest. Some of our grandmothers called almost every stored product pest a “weevil” and infested foods were said to be “weevily.”

Pantry pests can get into your home directly from the grocery store. Beetles or moths may lay eggs in food products during harvesting, processing, or while in storage. It’s the hatching larvae that feed in and contaminate the food. If an infested box or bag sits on your shelf for a while, the pests can infest other foods in your kitchen as well.

An infestation can go unnoticed for a long time. Eventually, you might find the beetles or moths, or their larvae, inside a food package. You might see skins that they’ve shed or silk webbing in the food itself. You might see whitish caterpillars crawling up kitchen walls.

The key to eliminating a pantry pest problem is to find and discard all of the infested food products. Dried foods most often infested are:

  1. Those that have been sitting unopened on the shelf for some time.
  2. Those that are used only occasionally.
  3. Those that are bought in bulk like pet food or bird seed.

See our blog, How to Check Food Products for Insects – Advice From the Pros for tips on how to check your food for pests. Completely eliminating an active pantry pest infestation isn’t easy, and may require the effort of a pest management company.

Call Colonial. We can help you locate those infested foods. Our technician may treat your kitchen shelves or pantry to kill the pests, or he or she may place pheromone traps that attract pantry pests. Our technicians can also advise you in how to manage and store your foods to avoid another infestation.

Photo credit: awhiskandaspoon / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

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