How to Get Rid of Pantry Bugs

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Have Pests in Your Pantry? Find Out How to Get Rid of Them

The holidays are here, and we all know what that means: more time spent in the kitchen. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-baked holiday cookies, especially on a chilly winter’s day. What could be better?

Of course, holiday baking isn’t always so enjoyable. Have you opened up a cupboard only to find a bag of flour crawling with bugs? Take a look at our holiday pest control tips below to find out how you can get rid of pantry pests.


What Are Pantry Pests?

The term “pantry pests” is used to refer to a variety of insects, including merchant grain beetles, Indian meal moths, and red flour beetles amongst others. These bugs love to infest flour, nuts, dried fruits, and other pantry items -- all of which are frequently used for baking. Pantry bugs are often encountered around the holidays, when a bag of flour or container of dried fruit is opened for the first time after months (or perhaps even years) of storage.


Where Do Pantry Pests Come From?

As with many other types of insects, pantry pests can sometimes infiltrate your home via cracks and crevices around doors and windows, or through gaps where piping or cabling run into your basement or crawlspace.

Additionally, though, pantry pests are often introduced into foodstuffs at the time of processing, or while in storage prior to purchase. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to inspect flour, cornmeal, dried fruits and nuts, and other dried goods after purchasing them -- and before sticking them in your cabinet.


Common Pantry Pests

Here in South Carolina, there are two pantry pests that homeowners often encounter: merchant grain beetles and Indian meal moths.

grainbeetleMerchant grain beetles are found throughout the United States and sometimes inhabit food processing areas and storage warehouses. Their preferred food sources include cereal, macaroni, cookies, cake mixes, chocolate, and flour. Once merchant grain beetles have been introduced into a foodstuff, they’ll often spend their entire lifecycle in the same spot. This can lead to a serious infestation. To keep merchant grain beetles out of your dried goods, consider adding a single bay leaf inside the container where an item is stored (for example, in a plastic tub of flour). The odor will help keep the beetles away.

mealmothIndian meal moths are also found throughout the U.S., and are attracted to grains, seeds, nuts, pet food, powdered milk, dried fruits and vegetables, and other foodstuffs. To keep these bugs out of your dried goods, it’s a good idea to use thick, sealed glass or plastic containers for storage rather than paper or thin plastic packaging.


How to Get Rid of Stored Product Pests

If you encounter pantry bugs in a bag of flour, nuts, dried fruit, or another item in your pantry, it’s important to dispose of the item immediately. Be sure you place it in a sealed container before disposing of it, however. It’s also important to inspect any nearby dried goods for signs of infestation. If you find larvae, pupae, or adult pantry bugs in other foodstuffs, dispose of them as well. Particularly if the infestation has spread, it’s important to pull everything out of the pantry and wipe down all of the surfaces inside.

As a general holiday pest control tip -- both for preventing pantry bugs, as well as for keeping other bugs away -- it’s always a good idea to store dried goods in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers. Never store flour in its original packaging, as this makes it an easy target for pantry bugs. General kitchen hygiene is important, too. Take out your trash regularly, and always clean up the kitchen after cooking or baking.


Keep Your Home Pest Free Year-Round

It’s true that pests can be a nuisance around the holidays. But here in South Carolina, we have to deal with pests all year around. Our warm, humid climate means that you’ll have to stay on top of pest control throughout the year in order to keep your home pest-free.

Need help with year-round pest control? Home Pest Control offers affordable, professional pest control services here in South Carolina. Our range of Home Shield Pest Control packages will keep your home protected all year long, and you can rest easy knowing that we only use safe, environmentally friendly pest control methods.

Wondering what you can do to get your home ready for winter? Download our free Winterizing Your Home guide here!

Sign up now to receive our free winterizing your home guide.

November 20, 2019

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