Pantry pests consume stored food products. These pests can become a nuisance at home. Here are the most common pantry pests.
Indian Meal Moth
These pests lay eggs near a source of food. The larvae access food products through holes in the packaging. Their chewing mouthparts allow them to access unopened packages of food.
The larvae can look greenish, pinkish, or yellowish in colour depending on the food source. It grows up to 5/8" before it leaves the food source. The larvae leave silken threads behind. They eat, grow, and moult 5 times.
Adult moths are 1/2" long and have a wingspan of 3/4". They emerge from cocoons and have 2-toned markings on the wings. The end of their forewings is reddish brown and has a copper lustre.
Adults don’t feed and are short-lived, so damage to food items is done by the caterpillar or larval form. Common signs of an Indian meal moth infestation include the following:
- Presence of larvae in food products that contain stored grain products, flour, cereal, dried fruits, chocolate or nuts
- Adult Indian meal moths flying around
- Webbing and silken threads in or on infested foods, storage shelving, packaging, cupboards, ceilings, and walls
There are two flour beetles that have similar biology, behaviours, feeding habits and life cycle – the confused flour beetles and the red flour beetle. Flour beetles are common in homes.
Red flour beetles have a 3-segmented club, but the confused flour beetles don’t. This difference is beneficial when dealing with the infestation’s origin because the confused flour beetle cannot fly, while the red flour beetle is capable of flight.
The larvae are yellow-brown or creamy in colour and have light hairs. The last segment of their body has pointed projections. Mature larvae are about 1/4" long before pupation.
Adult flour beetles are reddish brown and approximately 1/8" long. These pests can be found in large numbers eating grain products like broken kernels.
Some of the most common signs of a red flour beetle infestation include the presence of larvae and adult flour beetles in food items that contain flour, dog treats, dried pet food, cereal, and other grain products.
Saw-toothed Grain Beetles
These pests are brownish red in colour and have a slender, flattened body. Their colour is almost black. Each side of their thorax has teeth that look like saws.
The larvae of saw-toothed grain beetles are about 1/2" long and cream coloured. They can be found in different dried food items such as cereals, dried meat, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and macaroni.
Cigarette Beetles and Drugstore Beetles
Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles are approximately 1/8" long, oval-shaped, and brown in colour. They are capable of flight and can be seen around windows. Cigarette beetles feed on stored tobacco, while drugstore beetles are usually found where their name is derived from.
These pests feed on various dried plant products like macaroni, spices, and grain-based foods, tobacco products and dried flowers. Such items can start either in your home or from your local grocery store. They may also feed on paper products like books.
These pests feed on dried peas and beans. Bean weevils are oval, about 1/8" long and a mix between light and dark brown. The larvae of bean weevils are whitish, small, C-shaped and legless. Bean weevils don’t have a projecting snout and their short wing covers reveal part of their abdomen.
The larvae of spider beetles are whitish and C-shaped. Adult spider beetles roughly resemble spiders and are reddish brown in colour. They feed on various dried plant products.
How to Eliminate Pantry Pests
Find the source of the infestation. You can then start the steps necessary to get rid of the pests. Here are some tips to consider.
- Determine if there’s an infestation. If you’ve seen 1 or 2 beetles in areas where you don’t usually store food items, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an infestation. However, if you see a few beetles in locations near your cupboards where food products are stored, it’s possible that there is an infestation in your home.
- Look for the source of the infestation and get rid of the infested food products. Pantry pests can eat cereals, chocolate, dried peas, candy, crackers, macaroni, various grains, pet food, nuts, and spices.
- The number of pests should considerably decrease once you find the source of the infestation. Adult beetles might be looking for another source of food, so make sure that the other food products are stored in airtight glass or plastic containers. If there are other food items stored in boxes nearby, you have to check them as well.
- Don’t use pesticides when eliminating pantry pests. Just clean up the cupboards by washing and vacuuming the floors, shelves, and countertops in the kitchen.
Pantry pests can be difficult to eliminate. There are various products that you can use to help control an infestation and be able to minimize the damages. Continued use and observing preventative measures all help in avoiding a full-blown infestation.If you have not seen any improvement despite your efforts, you can hire a local pest control company to get rid of the pests for you. This way, the procedures will be done professionally and attain better results.