Pantry Pests DIY Pest Control
Pantry Pest Overview
The pantry is where you store all of your delicious snacks and special dried foods, but when disgusting bugs find their way to your food, that’s when things get personal! Pantry pests is the all-encompassing name describing a group of various insects that can get into your pantry and contaminate your stored food.
Pantry pests have a special appetite for stored food products (both human food and pet food) such as, flour, cereal, dry pasta, powdered milk, cornstarch, crackers, spices, bread, rice, dried nuts and fruit. Among the different types of pantry pests people can encounter there are, Rice Weevils, Granary Weevils, Grain Moths, Grain Bores, Drugstore Beetles, Tobacco Beetle, Indian Meal Moth, Confused Flour Beetle, Red Flour Beetles among others.
Since over 80% of our human food is from grains, such as rice, wheat, corn and sorghum it is no wonder that most of us will have a pantry pest infestation as sometime in our lives. An infestation usually occurs either in grocery stores or at home where foods stay untouched for long periods of time.
Uninfested products can be quickly taken over by pantry pests if they are not stored and sealed properly in tight and hard cased containers. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to treat these buggers and keep your pantry pest free. We at Solutions Stores offer easy to use and easy to apply professional pest control products for all your pantry pest needs.
Pantry Pest Characteristics
The majority of the pests that people encounter in their pantries are either a moth or a beetle. Indian meal moths are the most common pantry moth pest. They infest grain products, commonly cereals and whole grains, but also can contaminate dried fruits, nuts seeds, spices, and even pet foods.
The pantry moths are at their worst in the larvae stage of development as in this stage they eat anything and everything they come in contact with. Because of their small size they can usually go unnoticed for long periods of time and are usually only discovered with a homeowner decides to have some of the particular food that the pantry pest is harboring in. It’s definitely not a good experience to pour a bowl of cereal and out come dozens of pulsating larvae. YUCK!
Pantry pests usually infest products that have already been opened but are also capable of chewing their way through unopened packaging and can penetrate through cardboard, thin plastic, and foil. Once they have gotten access to a food source, they begin to multiply and spread to other foods. All stages of development of a pantry pest can be present (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) within the same food source, eating away at it. It takes about a month for a larvae to develop into an adult moth.
Other than contaminating food, pantry pests are relatively harmless to humans. They don’t sting or bite nor do they have the ability to damage the home structure.
How To Guide
If you’re reading this guide, you may have already discovered these pests crawling or flying around in your pantry. However it’s important to distinguish whether the insects you have in your pantry are pantry pests or some other infestation which can also get into your stored food like ants or roaches. Here we will cover some of the common pantry pests so you can properly identify that outbreak your home has. As always, if you are having trouble identifying the pest yourself using this guide, you can always call or email us and we will identify the pest and offer you helpful suggestions on treatment using our product line.
Indian meal moths as mentioned earlier are the most common pantry pest that can find its way into your food. Moths typically have two pairs of wings and can vary in size. Moths are known for being bright colored with varying shades of grey or brown to reddish brown. Moths are at their worst in the larval stage which is the stage when they do the most damage, devouring (and contaminating) dried foods in your pantry. The larvae are cream colored worms with shades of yellow, pink, green, or brown and grow to 1/2 inch long. Once past the larvae stage, the moth becomes a caterpillar.These pests contaminate more food than they actually eat. When mature, they do not feed.
Sawtoothed grain beetles are slender and brownish-red to almost black in color. They have flattened bodies are most easily identified by their teeth on each side of the thorax which resemble saws. During the larvae stage, these beetles are cream colored and about an ⅛ inch long and are hard to be noticed. Sawtoothed grain beetles can be discovered in various food items, including dried fruit, cereals, nuts, dried meat, macaroni, and seeds.
Drugstore beetles and cigarette beetles are about 1/8 inch long, brown and oval-shaped. Both species fly and can be found around windows. They derive their names from where they typically are found in the case of the drugstore beetle and for feeding on stored tobacco like the cigarette beetles. Despite their name, Cigarette and drugstore beetles feed on a wide variety of dried plant products such as spices, macaroni and other grain based foods, dried flowers, tobacco products, and even paper products, including books.
Flour beetles are reddish-brown, and oval shaped. During the larvae stage they are cylinder shaped, cream-colored with pointed spines at the end. Because of how small the larvae stage is, they are usually not noticed by homeowners. Flour beetles feed on a variety of pantry food products, such as flour, bran, cereal products, dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate.
Warehouse and cabinet beetles are elongated and oval shaped between 1/8 to 3/16 inches long. Their names are also derived from where they have typically been found. These beetles are usually solid black with yellowish and brown markings. During the larval stage, they are long and narrow and vary from yellowish to dark brown. Warehouse and cabinet beetles feed on many different pantry products like grains, seeds, fur, hair, and pet food as well as dead insects and animal carcasses.
Granary, rice, and maize weevils are thin pests with a protruding snout. Usually dark brown, these pests sometimes also have four orangish spots on the wing covers. During the larval stage they are white and wrinkled looking and are usually discovered inside kernels or seeds. These weevils attack only whole grains or seeds, leaving small round exit holes in infested kernels. Though quite rare, they can be also found in nuts, dried fruits, macaroni, and caked or crusted milled products such as flour.
Spider beetles are reddish brown beetles with long legs and they roughly resemble spiders which gives them their name. During the larval stage they C-shaped and whitish and reside in infested material and are rarely ever seen by the naked eye. Spider beetles infest a variety of dried plant products.
Bean weevils are a type of beetle that feeds on dried beans and peas. Usually they are a mix between light and dark brown, oval, and about 1/8 inch long. They have short wing covers which exposes part of the abdomen. Unlike other weevils, bean weevils lack a projecting snout. The larvae are small, whitish, legless, and C-shaped.
Once you have identified the kind of pantry pests you are dealing with, it’s time to jump into giving your pantry a full-blown inspection. Here are some steps to follow before utilizing any control products.
Clean out the source. The first order of business is to remove the source of whatever pest you are dealing with. I think it’s safe to say that whatever item of food you found the buggers in, you don’t want to eat anymore so, remove those infested and contaminated products promptly.
Check ALL of your other foodstuffs this may be a little time-consuming but it has to be done to eliminate the issue completely. Check all of your pantry food just to be absolutely sure there are no bugs in them. If you find some, toss the product. Check pasta, cereal, grains, whatever you have since as mentioned earlier, they can break through thin plastic and cardboard so even if something is closed doesn’t mean they haven’t got into the product. Examine all susceptible food as there could be more than one infested source. When inspecting them, look at the top surface of products with a flashlight or pour the package contents onto a cookie sheet.
Store your food in air-tight containers. Say bye bye to the original packaging of most of your food. It is best to buy hard shelled containers and store your products in them after you have isolated the source infestation. You could use hard plastic, glass, ceramic etc. as long as they are hard and have a tight fitting lid. Never mix older food with newer food if there has been pantry pests in them.
Solutions offers a full line of pantry pest control products and have put together some easy to use kits and guides to help you with your DIY pantry pest control. We would recommend you start with a residual insecticide aerosol, some pantry traps and and insect growth regulator.
There are a variety of pheromone traps available to attract and trap the pantry pest and we have traps for your specific pantry pest problem so as noted on the identification section, it’s important to note what infestation you are having so you can select the correct product.
Insecticide treatments are vastly effective for controlling your pantry pest. There are products which offer no residual control but act as a fumigant. We offer direct contact treatments, that can be applied to the clean out area, and crack and crevice sprays.
Insect Growth Regulators sprays can also be applied for difficult to identify pantry pests. Sometimes you cannot easily determine where the infestation is coming from and all steps have been performed to eliminate the food source. Insect Growth Regulators have been proven to offer an added layer of control on top of a residual spray.
The first step is always to identify the source of the pest which at this point you may have already done so. Locating the infestation and removing the source is conquering half the battle.
Once you have decluttered your pantry and removed unwanted foods and foods you feel are infested, vacuum and clean the shelves and surfaces of the pantry. If necessary, use caulking on the cracks and crevices of the shelves and apply fresh paint.
Apply a residual insecticide spray. An easy to use aerosol is usually the best option then follow up with an Insect Growth Regulator, which is also available in an aerosol spray and has a crack and crevice tip for easy application.
If necessary, Freeze products that were previously infested for at least 4 days before putting them back in the pantry. This freeze treatment eradicates any pantry pest that may have been in that product.
Use pheromone specific traps to catch adult beetles and moths that are moving around in your home.
You can also apply an Insect Growth Regulator, such as Gentrol Aerosol to control the lifecycle of your pantry pest.
Once you have done the previous steps, you should no longer have a pantry pest problem. However just because the problem is gone does not mean that they won’t return so these preventative measures must be taken to maintain a bug free pantry.
Purchase foods in smaller quantities and make sure that you will use them in a short period of time rather than letting them stay stored unused. This will reduce clutter in your pantry.
Inspect packages or bulk products before buying. Grocery stores have been known to have pantry pest outbreaks on food that stays sitting on their shelving for long periods of time. Packages should be sealed and unbroken. Also check the freshness packaging date. Look for evidence of insects, including holes in the packaging or wrapping.
Store insect-free foods in tightly closed glass, metal, or heavy plastic containers especially for foods that you know you will not eat quickly. You can also store susceptible foods in the refrigerator or freezer.
Keep your pantry and any food storage areas clean. Sweep up crumbs and spills immediately and remove old unused food you don’t want anymore.
Use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean cracks and corners.