Cereal and Pantry Pests in Your Home
No one wants to find pantry beetles eating their food. I remember when I was around 10 years old, I happily poured myself a bowl of cereal before school and was horrified to see my bowl filled with creepy crawling insects. Let’s just say I found out that day that there is no quicker way to lose your appetite than to see your food covered in pantry pests.
Just because these bugs are referred to as pantry pests doesn’t mean this is the first place you’ll see them in your home. Many times we have heard of people coming home from vacation to find their home completely infested with some kind of pantry beetle. People often get distracted by the beetles throughout the house and don’t think of the source being in their clean pantry.
Pantry Beetle Identification
So you see bugs in the pantry. That’s a big head-start on identifying them as pantry beetles. But there are actually various pantry pests that can breed in your food stocks and take over your kitchen and home.
The most common pantry pest is the Indian meal moth. Other common pantry pests are the saw-toothed grain beetle, cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles, rice weevils, merchant grain beetles, granary weevils and flour beetles.
Usually these various pantry pests get into homes by being brought into the home inside of food products. Even the cleanest, spotless homes can be infested if food is brought in that is contaminated. The infestation can originate at the food processing plant, the storage warehouse, delivery vehicle or the retail store. The longer a food product is stored in one location, the more likely it is to become infested.
The most often seen stage of these pests that is seen within homes is the adult stage. Eggs (unfortunately) are very tiny and seldom seen within food so hopefully you spot the adults before eating! The most destructive stage of pantry pests is the larval stage.
Easy Pantry Pest Elimination
The key control method is ALWAYS finding the source of the pantry beetles in your home and throwing it away outside of the home. No amount of spraying will resolve this issue if you cannot locate the source that they are feeding on and breeding within.
Since many pantry pests can fly, you may think the source couldn’t possibly be in your pantry since you see so many in a different area of your home. It is important to go through every stored food product as well as pet foods to find where the activity is coming from.
Once the source is removed, the remaining pests in your home will be the adult pantry pests that will be busy looking for a food source to deposit their eggs at. So that they do not re-infest other food products in your home, make sure all food items are in air-tight, hard plastic containers or jars. Even unopened items may be infested so be sure to check everything.
The remaining pantry pests in your home can actually be removed via vacuum and do not require the use of pesticides to control them. Make sure to also do a deep-cleaning of the cracks and crevices in your home and underneath furniture and appliances as best as possible to remove any potential food particles they may be using to deposit eggs in. Be sure to dispose of the vacuumed contents outside of the home when you are done.
Ways to Prevent Pantry Pests
- Immediately dispose of any containers pantry pests are found inside before they spread
- Store food in Tupperware-type containers with secure lids.
- Add a bay leaf to canisters of dry goods. The herb’s pungent scent repels many pantry pests.
- Make it a habit while grocery shopping to carefully inspect food products in cardboard packages for signs of damage prior to placing it in the cart. Only purchase items that show no sign of damage.
- Check expiration dates on baking ingredients before use.
- Keep kitchen counters, floors and sinks clean because crumbs and spills quickly attract pests.
- Dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
- Seal cracks or holes around the stovepipes and water pipes.
- Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
- Hire a local exterminator for ongoing preventative applications. Our service territory extends from Boca Raton, FL and West Palm Beach and Wellington up to Jupiter.
Pantry Pest Traps
Insect monitors and traps such as the one pictured above are great for monitoring. This type of pheromone trap works by emitting a scent that attracts male pantry moths, trapping them to the sticky surface when they land on it. This is the same scent that comes from female pantry moths.
While this is certainly a tool available, it should not be relied on as the only source of control. You still must locate and remove the source of the pantry pests and removing them with a vacuum is definitely much faster than relying on a pheromone trap. However, if you’ve already removed the source and vacuumed and there are a few pantry pests still around the house, properly placed traps are great at catching the remaining ones so that you can be completely free of these invaders.