Common Pantry Pests And How To Deal With Them

Insects
These copper-winged insects may be the number one invader in your pantry. Adult insects don’t eat food. But their larvae feast on grains, flour, cornmeal, rice, nuts, dog food, and other dry goods. They spin silk webs that capture their droppings, dead skin, and other gross things on the food surface. Use a sealed container to keep them out.
Cockroaches
These termite cousins may take the title of the nastiest pantry pests. The ones you see scurrying around when you turn on the lights are likely German cockroaches. They can be hard to step out of. They can eat rotting food and garbage and then contaminate your food and drinks. Their droppings can also trigger allergic reactions in some people. The best thing to do is to keep a clean and dry house and your trash covered. If you have an infestation, you may need to turn to pesticides.
Sawtooth Grain Beetles
These tiny, dark insects get their name from the teeth that protrude from between their head and abdomen. They will infest your dried fruits, jerky, pasta, seeds, and many other staple foods. If you accidentally swallow them or their eggs, don’t be alarmed. Sawtooth Valley Beetles do not carry or transmit harmful germs.
Spiders
These eight-legged arachnids love a dirty pantry. Overflowing food and garbage attracts flies, moths, and other spider menu items. Spiders can crawl in through cracks in your house and even hitchhike in from the grocery store. Use a vacuum to clean up cobwebs and eliminate insects that become spider meals.
Drugstore Beetles
These brown flying insects are attracted to light. They feed on dried plant foods, including herbs, spices, macaroni, and even tobacco and books. You may see adult insects buzzing around, or notice holes in packages that the beetles have bitten. They can go for weeks without eating. Throw away all infected food and clean out your pantry thoroughly so that the bugs don’t come back from their hiding places.
Rice Elephant Beetle
The weevil is a plant-eating beetle. These dark brown, winged insects can destroy entire silos of grain. Rice weevils attack more than just rice. They also feed on corn, wheat, cereals, nuts, and even apples and pears. Take special care before you bag your grains and other bulk items at the grocery store.
Flour Beetles
The two most common types are the red flour beetle and the confused flour beetle. They look similar, but you are more likely to encounter red flour beetles in your home. The females lay sticky eggs on top of grains, shelled nuts, and other foods. These beetles cause the infested food to smell and become moldy. Throw away all contaminated food and vacuum up any debris.
Ants.
Pharaoh ants and mad ants are known for their sweet tooth. Other species of ants, such as roaming ants, prefer to eat meat and protein. Ants can crawl into your kitchen through electrical outlets or cracks in the walls. If you find them lined up in your pantry, one way to expel them is to use indoor ant bait. Be sure to sweep up crumbs and other potential food sources.
Warehouse Beetles
Females can lay nearly 100 eggs. These eggs mature into hungry larvae that feed on flour, cereal, pet food, candy, potato chips, and dead worms. The larvae shed their stiff hairs in the food, which can trigger an allergic reaction if you swallow them. Throw away all infected food immediately in a ziplock bag, away from the house.
Moths
You’re most likely to find these yellow caterpillars in a forgotten box or grocery bag in the corner of your pantry. Moths love moist, moldy foods, including flour, grains and birdseed. Seal cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and windows, as insects can enter and hide.
Cafeteria
Pantry pests are just that. They target your dry food, but do not bite or sting. Adults or their larvae can infest almost anything on your cabinets and shelves, including…
Bacon.
Cookies, Cookies and Pasta
Beans, peas, corn kernels.
Spices
Milk Powder
Tea Leaves
Chocolate
Seeds and Nuts
Smart Storage
Some pantry pests can easily burrow through wax paper, plastic bags and cardboard boxes. Move dry food to an airtight container. Store foods such as cornmeal and most nuts in the refrigerator where the bugs can’t get to them. Milk powder and dried fruits can be refrigerated. An added bonus: your food will stay fresh longer. Wash the containers before reusing them.
How to get rid of pests
First, throw away all infested food in a sealed bag. Then, check to see if the insects have spread to other items, especially open packages.
Check to see if the insects have spread to other items, especially open packages.
Vacuum the pantry and wipe down walls and shelves with soap and water.
If you need to save some of your contaminated food, try placing it in a 130 degree oven for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 4 days.