As we start to gear up for the holidays, many of us begin gathering and storing food supplies for the upcoming months. Unfortunately, these essentials could also be providing stored product pests or “pantry pests” a supply of their own! The most common of these pantry pests, Indianmeal moths and merchant grain beetles, will infest and eat a variety of pantry items such as grains, nuts, chocolates, cake mixes, cookies, and more.
We break down some easy ways to prevent these pests this holiday season so you can get back to what matters most: family time.
Invest in Proper Storage
Utilizing Tupperware-type containers is a great way to keep your pantry organized and keep pantry pests away! Place your grains, uncooked pasta noodles, cookies, or seeds in these containers to protect against pests. Make sure that the containers are made from either glass or plastic, with a tight-fitting lid. Also, consider placing a bay leaf in dry goods such as flour, rice, and other grains – the bay leaf’s smell will help repel many pests.
Inspect Your Groceries
Most of the time, pantry pests are brought into the home from items that have already been infested, such as cardboard, plastic bags, or paper grocery bags. Before purchasing groceries, inspect the food packaging prior to placing them into your cart to buy. If you notice that there is an opening, do not purchase and let an employee know. Before entering your home with groceries, inspect and go through ingredients to make sure there hasn’t already been a pest infestation.
Sealing cracks and crevices throughout your home is essential for not letting these pests in. Check around your stovepipes and water pipes for any openings and seal them if needed. Additionally, moisture is a major attraction to any pests. Eliminate any water coming from leaking pipes or clogged drains. Consider investing in a dehumidifier to help with moisture control.
If you suspect pantry pests or have seen them, throw out anything infested and do a thorough cleaning of the entire area. Contact a local pest control company to help identify the pest and provide the best treatment and prevention plan.
Pests can show up in the most unexpected of places – in your bed, in your luggage and unfortunately in your food. What might have appeared to be a perfectly fresh and untouched package might actually be home to insects that infect food products. These insects are aptly named stored product pests and are usually small beetles or moths. For the most part, you will notice the adult form of these insects as they immediately begin their search for more food, typically in the area where the infestation first began.
These insects have a rather rapid life cycle lasting just four to five weeks. During this time, adult females can lay anywhere from 1000 to 1,000 eggs! If the adults themselves do not eat your food, then they serve as breeders who locate food sources for their larva. The name suggests that these pests only consume food products, but actually have a very large appetite including, but not limited, dried flower arrangements, bird seed, dog bones and even jewelry or holiday decorations!
In the Southeast, one particular stored product pest you may spot is an Indianmeal moth. Despite what their name suggests, these moths can be found in bird seed, breakfast cereals and other consumables, typically located in kitchen cupboards. However, because of their great ability of flight, adult Indianmeal moths can be found pretty much anywhere within an infested home. Indianmeal moths are also easy to spot during the larva stage, as they are almost an inch long and create webs of silk in the items they infest.
Another well-known insect is the drugstore beetle which commonly infests dried herbs and spices as well as other dried plant and animal material. These pests can chew through paper packaging and even aluminum foil. You’ll spot these pests as they are active, great flyers that are attracted to light. However, don’t assume that one not moving is one not to worry about. These pests, like another stored product pest known as the weevil, may pretend to be disturbed when threatened.
Preventing these infestations is difficult as many of these pests do not appear until the packaging has been opened. It’s important though to keep food in tightly sealed containers and also use older products first. If the infestation is relatively bad, pest control companies such as Northwest Exterminating can provide traps to bait these pests using pheromones that attract these insects.