Pantry Pests

2014-02-06 17.52.29

With winter upon us, there aren’t too many insect or plant issues to worry about. However, there are certain insects that can be a problem in your home any time of the year. One group of insects that can be year-round invaders would be the pantry pests.

Pantry pests, are just as they are described, insect pests that get into our pantry foods. There are many different insects that can get into our pantry items, including flour beetles, dermestid beetles, Indian meal moths, cigarette and drugstore beetles, and others. These pests do not cause humans any harm, other than the gross factor and stress from having them in our foods. The pantry pests that we see are very small and they are found in our cupboards or in the food itself.

Photos from UNL Department of Entomology except Drugstore/Cigarette Beetle Photo is from Barb Ogg, UNL Extension Retired

Photos from UNL Department of Entomology except Drugstore/Cigarette Beetle Photo is from Barb Ogg, UNL Extension Retired

Flour beetles are tiny, reddish-brown beetles with club-like antennae. Dermestid beetles are those tiny beetles that are black with yellow and white spots. The immature dermestid beetles are often found, they look like a tiny cigar covered with small spines. Indian meal moths are the typical small moth you may find in your kitchen. Cigarette and drugstore beetles are tiny beetles, reddish brown, and their head is hidden from above by their prothorax, which is the front portion of the thorax on an insect.

Pantry pests can chew their way into sealed plastic, zip-top bags and boxes. They can be brought home with your food as they tend to get into food at warehouses. Pantry pests typically feed on things including:

  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Rice
  • Cereal
  • Other grains
  • Dog food
  • Cat food
  • Bird food
Flickr image courtesy of Melissa Doroquez per CC license

Flickr image courtesy of Melissa Doroquez per CC license

Management for pantry pests is very easy. Clean up your cabinets and store your food properly. You need to be sure that your foods are stored in a glass or hard plastic container with a tight seal on the lid. Because these pests can chew through plastic baggies and cardboard boxes, you may need to remove the products from the container they are sold in and store them in a canister. You can also store many of these grain products in the freezer causing no harm to the product itself. Also, be sure to get a food storage container that has a good seal for any pet foods you may have around your home. This will help with pantry pests and other possible household invaders.

Pantry pests are not choosy with the types of homes they invade. They come into clean and dirty homes alike. Even if you haven’t found pantry pests in your home, it is still a good practice to store your grain products in canisters or the freezer to avoid them coming into your home.

 

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