Pantry pests can sneak in from connected housing units or outside sources. These pests may be inside packaged food products and you’re bringing them inside your home without realizing it. Once they find delicious food sources, they spend most of their life crawling about in the infested food material.
These pests enjoy a wide range of food for people and pets. They particularly love food items kept in paper containers and left untouched for long periods of time such as dry pet food, powdered milk, flour cereals, dried fruits, grain products, bread, spices, dry cereals, crackers, and other dry goods.
Damage Caused By Pantry Pests
Pantry pests enter the cracks and crevices of drawers and pantries and infest foods. Some families may also lose a lot of money from the large amounts of food that they need to throw away. Consumption of infested foods can cause intestinal problems and stomachache as well.
Signs of an Infestation
- presence of beetles around windows, in cupboards and on counters
- caterpillars on ceilings and walls in rooms next to an infestation
- small beetles inside dried food products
- silk webbing and caterpillars in the infested food package
How to Identify Pantry Pests
· Indian Meal Moths
These pests may be found flying around your home or inside an infested product. It has a wingspan of 1/2" to 5/8". The base of its front wing is tan or pale gray. The rest of the wing is reddish brown and has a coppery lustre.
The larvae of Indian meal moths are whitish worms that have shades of green, brown, yellow, or pink and can grow to 1/2" long. The larvae consume stored products like whole grains or dry stored food. Infested foods will have silk webbing on its surface.
The larvae often leave when they are mature and may travel long distances before making a cocoon. You may see adult moths flying up to several weeks after the source of food has been removed.
· Sawtoothed Grain Beetles
Sawtoothed grain beetles are found in different food items such as dried meat and fruit, cereals, seeds, macaroni, and nuts. They are approximately 1/10" long and brownish-red in colour. The larvae of sawtoothed grain beetles are about 1/8" long, cream-coloured, and slender.
· Meal Moths
Meal moths eat a wide range of seeds, flour and grain products. It has a wingspan of approximately 3/4" to 1". The larvae of meal months have a whitish body and black head. The end of their body has some orange colour as well.
· Drugstore Beetles
Drugstore beetles eat dried plant products like spices. These pests are about 1/8" long, brown, and oval.
They also consume grain-based foods, paper products, dried flowers, and tobacco products. The larvae of drugstore beetles are 1/8" long, have a light brown head, and are yellowish-white in colour.
· Cigarette Beetles
Cigarette beetles are 1/8" long, brown, and oval. Their head is bent downward just like drugstore beetles. They eat various dried plant products.
Their curved body is protected with fine hair. They are often seen around windows.
· Flour Beetles
Red flour beetles (T. castaneum) are usually found in homes. The confused flour beetle (Tribolium confusum) doesn’t fly.
It’s seen in flour mills. They eat cereal products, flour, dried fruits, bran, chocolate, and nuts. Flour beetles are 3.6" long, oval and reddish brown.
· Cabinet and warehouse Beetles
Cabinet and warehouse beetles are 1/8" to 3/16" long and may be spotted with yellowish-brown markings or solid black. They eat grain products, pet food, animal by-products, dried fruits, fur, seeds, hair, animal carcasses, and dead insects.
The larvae of cabinet and warehouse beetles are hairy, dark brown or yellowish in colour, narrow and long and may grow to approximately 1/4".
· Spider Beetles
Spider beetles look like a spider. It’s 3/16" long, reddish brown and has long legs. It feeds on dried plant products.
The larvae of spider beetles are whitish and C-shaped. They stay in the infested food products and are not usually seen.
· Rice Weevil
Rice weevils eat bird seed, whole grains, caked meal, rice, rye, corn, millet, and beans. It is dark brown or black in colour and has four orange/red spots arranged in a cross pattern on its wing covers.
Adult rice weevils can fly and are approximately 2 mm long. They have a long snout. Female adult rice weevils lay 2 to 6 eggs every day. They can lay up to 300 eggs over their lifetime.
· Bean Weevil
Bean weevils are about 1/8" long and mottled dark and light brown. They are seed beetles with short wing covers that expose part of their abdomen.
They don’t have a noticeable snout. They eat peas and dried beans. The larvae of bean weevils are C-shaped, whitish, small and legless.
Make use of these details to identify which pests are already accessing your stocks and get to know how to get rid of them properly.
How to Prevent and Control Pantry Pests
Here are some tips on how to prevent pantry pests from accessing your food.
- Packages must be unbroken and sealed.
- Purchase dried foods in small quantities. These food products must be consumed within 2 to 4 months.
- Check the packaging date of the food products.
- Consume the oldest food items before the newer ones. Opened packages should also be consumed first before unopened ones.
- Inspect bulk products or packages before purchasing.
- Get rid of old products that you are not using or have not used at all.
- Search for evidence of pantry pests such as holes in the wrapping or packaging.
- Keep your food storage area clean. Remove spilled food or crumbs immediately.