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Pantry Pests Are Showing Up

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

We all enjoy a good meal, including those insects that like our grains in the pantry or cabinet. This topic was covered just before the holiday since that seems to be the time when lots of flour and baking goods are brought into the home for baking pies, cakes, cookies and more. If you used up all your flour products or stored them in air tight containers, kept them in the refrigerator or freezer then you likely have avoided a much larger problem.

These pests can start in one product and within weeks contaminate many others. Cereal, oatmeal, pasta products, flour, cornmeal, cake mixes, powdered milk, dried fruits, dried flower arrangements, dry pet food and birdseed can all become contaminated.

There are moths and beetles than we commonly find feeding in these products. The one that may be most noticeable is the Indian Meal Moth since they can be seen as an adult flying around a light source or near a window. It is the larvae stage that is found in the food stuffs. White flour for example will take on an off white color and the surface may be covered in webbing along with bag or container inside. After they have fed and attain a size of about ½ inch, the larvae will crawl away from the container, spin a cocoon and later emerge as the adult moth. In nature the moth would fly away to lay more eggs. In our home the only food source will be the grain based products in the pantry.


The common pantry pest beetles are the red and confused flour beetles. These beetles will eat all those already listed plus beans, peas and nuts. Both beetles are very small and could easily go unnoticed for a long time.

The remedy for the moth and beetles is to inspect all packages in the cabinet and throw away any clearly infested products. Any products left should be considered suspect and placed in a tight sealing container in the pantry. Later if another product is found with the insects, you only have to discard the one product and not inventory the entire pantry again. There are no insecticides to spray.

As you buy new products for the pantry, only buy the amount you will use in a short time. Do not buy products that in a broken or damaged bag or box. Other considerations would be to remember to rotate and use older products first and to keep the pantry free of spilled food and crumbs.

It is most common to see these pests this time of year, but they can occur anytime during the year. Once spring gets here, don't forget to fee the rest of the bird seed.

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