Pantry pests are just what they sound like: pests that are found in and around food items in your pantry or wherever you store food. They are often difficult to spot at first because they are usually quite small and are often disguised by being the same color as the food they are living in. Young or immature pantry pests may not be noticed at all unless you know what you are looking for. They may often look like a very small caterpillar or grub of some kind. Once they are adults, they will definitely be noticeable. If you spot a beetle, or flying moth around the area you store food, you likely have an infestation of pantry pests of some variety. This is a significant problem, and not just because of the “gross factor!” Pantry pests such as moths, beetles and weevils do not bite or sting but they will contaminate the food in your household, and they will spread.
Where do they come from?
Pantry pests often arrive in your home within packaging of dry food goods such as flour, pancake mix, or rice. Other possible contaminated foods include crackers or cookies, dry cereals, and dry beans. Contamination often occurs in a store, but can even be sealed within a package in the factory at production. Pantry pests can also originate in your home, especially around food that has been stored for a long period of time, or with open food bags or dry goods containers. These bests will easily travel from bag or container to other food in containers in the vicinity, easily chewing through paper and plastic. Cellophane wrapped packages, foil, and even thin cardboard are likewise no match for these infiltrators.
Unfortunately they will spread quickly once they enter or are brought into your home. They can produce several generations within a single year, and will do so once they have found a favorable food source and environment in your cupboard or pantry. The experience of seeing crawling things in the food you are currently eating is disgusting to say the least, and outside of the tummy trouble you will experience, there is also the financial impact of disposing of a large quantity of food that will need to be eliminated. The solution at this point is to deeply clean and start over in your food storage or pantry.
To discourage pantry pests, purchase food in amounts you can use in a relatively short period of time. If you prefer longer storage, store dry goods in metal, glass or strong plastic containers with tightly sealing lids. Keep storage areas clean, and always throw away stale, unused items. Use a disinfectant to sterilize the area on a regular basis, and don’t neglect the corners and crevices. A vacuum works well for this, but don’t forget to empty the bag if you know you are cleaning up after an outbreak of some variety of pantry pests. If you are not sure if you have an infestation of pantry bests, contact a professional pest control company for identification, tips, and further assistance in eliminating your pests. Pesticides are not recommended around food.