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Flour beetles

Unwelcome Dinner Guests: How to Get Rid of Pantry Bugs for Good

While Florida is just about the closest you can get to a tropical paradise, it’s also a hotspot for pests. Pantry bugs are one of the most common infestation problems that you might come across in your home. Fortunately, pantry pests don’t have to be your roommates forever. Whether you’re dealing with flour beetles, Indian meal moths, weevils, or something else, you can find the answers to your pest control problems below.

Key Takeaways

  • The most common pantry pests include cockroaches, pantry moths, rice weevils, the red flour beetle, and sawtoothed grain beetles.
  • Pantry insects and their larvae are often attracted to food items such as pet food, dried food, bird seed, opened packages, and whole grains.
  • Pantry bugs may invade your pantry items via small holes or open containers.
  • You can remove and destroy these insects with DIY and professional pest control methods.

Pantry Bug Identification

Before you go after your pests with soapy water, pesticides, and other extermination methods, you first need to know what creatures are actually in your pantry. Let’s look at some of the most common pantry bugs you might encounter.

Sawtoothed Grain Beetle

Crawling sawtoothed-Grain-Beetle

This insect is very small and reddish-brown. It usually appears in large groupings of other beetles and is fond of food such as corn and other grains.

Cigarette Beetles

Cigarette beetle crawling on wood

Cigarette beetles are similar in color to sawtoothed grain beetles, though they are much smaller. Their bodies are also shorter and rounder. These beetles are so small that they can be hard to spot unless there are many of them in one place.

Drugstore Beetles

Crawling drugstor beetle

These insects look very similar to cigarette beetles in size, shape, and color. They love all sorts of food items, from dried fruit to stored food products and more. Because of their small size, they’re often hard to spot until many of them show up.

Rice Weevils

Adult weevil

An example of an adult weevil. Credit: Pixabay

As you can likely guess, rice weevils are often found among rice. The insects will lay their eggs among the grains and eventually hatch, turning your nice rice packets into an insect’s paradise. They are smaller than a grain of rice, but their dark brown color makes them more noticeable.

Merchant Grain Beetles

Crawling merchant grain beetle

These beetles look similar to rice weevils but prefer grains such as wheat, corn, barley, and so on. Their dark color makes them more visible against pale grains.

Granary Weevils

Beetle infested granary

These weevils are almost identical to rice weevils in their appearance and behavior. They love grains and rice, and they are extremely small, sometimes small enough to get through some food packages or airtight containers.

Flour Beetles

Crawling flour beetles

As the name suggests, you can find flour beetles living in flour. They are a little larger than rice weevils and look like miniature cockroaches.

What Attracts Pantry Bugs?

What brings pantry bugs to the party? Food, of course! Infested food is the biggest concern related to having these critters in your house. Pantry bugs are major foodies. They love grains and rice, fruits, flour, and more.

As soon as they smell something they can eat, they’ll crawl over and see if they can get to it. Some insects may be attracted to certain foods more than others, but all can be big problems, especially when you live in warmer climates like Florida.

One common mistake that can attract these insects is not keeping pantry shelves secure. Think about how your pantry is organized right now. How are your grains, dried foods, and other food items stored? Are they loosely stored in the packages they came in? Or are they sealed away in airtight containers?

If your food is poorly stored, there’s a good chance that these common pantry pests will invade, and it won’t be too difficult for them to do so. Many are small enough to crawl through tears and holes in boxes or bags. That’s why, before you jump straight into the use of insecticide, you should first make sure your pantry is secure. Another good prevention tip is to quickly use the food you buy from the grocery store.

Unfortunately, pantry pests can also hitch a ride into your home using the very grains you purchase. Sometimes, eggs make it through the manufacturing process and end up in the flour, rice, etc., you see at the store. Once those eggs hatch – likely after you’ve already introduced them to their new home – they can create a full-blown infestation.

Tips for Eliminating Pantry Bugs

Avoid future infestations and get rid of pantry pests once and for all with these easy tips and tricks.

  • Clear Out: Unfortunately, if your food is already overrun with bugs, it might be best to throw it all away to keep the problem from worsening (and to keep yourself from eating bugs).
  • Repel With Smells: Many insects hate the smell of certain objects, such as bay leaves, peppermint oil, oregano oil, and so on. Sprinkling these objects around your food items is a great way to keep common pantry bugs at bay.
  • Clean Up: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t often have to use pesticides when eliminating pantry pests. You can instead vacuum them up and do away with them, but you do need to make sure that their source is destroyed. When removing insects from your pantry, always throw them far away from your home instead of letting them sit in the garbage can inside or near your home.
  • Block Entry: Identify the source of these insects by looking for small holes or entry points, and then destroy those entryways to stop the problem.

These are just a few of the most important tips you can use when eliminating pantry bugs from your home. But what if you don’t have pantry bugs yet but are worried they might affect you and your food in the future?

In that case, you’ll have to spend a bit more time researching prevention.

Pantry Bug Prevention

Prevention is a great way to make sure that pantry bugs never become a problem in the first place (or at least it would be a rare problem). Here are some steps you can take to prevent bugs from returning – or showing up in the first place.

  • Stop leaving opened packages around and, instead, opt for tightly sealed containers to make it difficult for insects to enter the food.
  • Make sure your food storage areas are dry and cool since insects prefer moist and warm environments.
  • If you can’t put certain foods in ordinary airtight containers, wrap them in plastic bags or put them in large plastic containers to keep the bugs out.
  • Don’t let your food sit around for weeks or months on end. Instead, eat whole grains and rice regularly so that any insect eggs don’t have the chance to go through their life cycle.
  • Keep strongly scented items around your pantry to deter common insects, such as drops of lemon extract, bay leaves, oregano oil, and so on.

Performing these common and easy tasks should help you keep pantry pests far away from your food in the future.

Seeking Professional Pest Control Services

There are few things worse than going into your pantry to get some food only to find out that it’s been overrun by countless tiny bugs. Chances are, you aren’t interested in eating a bunch of bugs with your rice, noodles, or grains.

Professional pest control services can help you get to the root of the problem and solve it effectively. That way, you can eat your food in peace and focus on how delicious it tastes instead of worrying if you’re chowing down on a six-legged visitor.

You can perform most elimination and prevention of pantry bugs by yourself with common household tricks. However, if you find that your bug problem is more severe than you thought, it might be time to call professional pest control. Likewise, if your own attempts to get rid of pantry pests aren’t successful, it’s probably best to call in the pros. Contact Native Pest Management today and learn why we’re the best pest control option in the area.

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