Pantry Pests: Prevention and Control

November 5, 2014


Pantry pests are a problem because bugs enjoy many of the same foods that humans do. A quick pantry check at your house will probably find cereal, flour, salty snacks, and many other grain-based products that bugs like ants and cockroaches love to eat. These sneaky pests also seek out pet food, spices, nuts, and even powdered milk. In the warmth of your home, these beasts will reproduce and perpetuate the problem until it’s brought under control.


Help! I Have Moths in My Pantry

One of the most common pantry pests is a specific type of moth, the Mediterranean flour moth or Indian meal moth, more generally known as pantry moths. These nasty beasts, generally gray or pinkish in color, will lay their eggs directly into food products. If you see one flying around your cupboards or in your kitchen, it’s a safe bet you have a problem. They favor pet food or coarse grains, but will feed on almost anything.


Pantry Pest Beetles and Weevils

Many types of crawling insects are known to infest the pantry, including grain beetles, drugstore beetles, flour beetles, and rice and bean weevils. One poor guy is known as the confused beetle. Each has its favorite food, but most will dive into what’s readily available.


Pantry Pest Prevention

The best way to prevent pests in your stored food is to purchase it in small quantities and use it up quickly. For long-term storage, use glass, heavy plastic, or metal containers with screw-top or other insect-proof lids. Regularly inspect all food packages and containers, and empty and clean food storage areas (pet food areas, too), as crumbs attract unwanted pests quickly. Look for evidence of silky webs (moths), eggs, larvae, or adult insects in and around food areas. Pantry moth traps may be effective in some cases; however once you notice adult moths, the infestation may already have spread. For all other pests, preventing access to food is the best form of prevention.


How to Kill Pantry Pests

You won’t be able to use insecticides to kill bugs in the pantry. The best you can do is throw away any infested food, vacuum the area thoroughly (empty your vacuum immediately afterward!), and wash shelves well with detergent or ammonia. If possible, store food in the refrigerator or freezer for a few weeks, to avoid recontamination. Some pests may infest other areas of the home, so consult a professional pest control service for treatment, to help deter future problems. No one wants to discover that their food supply has been taken over by pantry pests!