What’s Eating My Food? Stored Product Pests

Pantry pests is the common name given to insects that infest stored products such as flour, cereals and indeed any dried foods. Sometimes you may not be even aware your food has been infested, but when you do… yuck! But what are the common pantry pests? How do you get rid of them? And how can you prevent a pantry pest problem in the future?

What are the various types of pantry pest (stored product pest)?

The most common types of panty pests are the pantry moths – the Indian meal moth and the Mediterranean flour moth. However, there are also a whole range of beetles and weevils that attack a wide range of stored products, such as the flour beetles, drugstore beetle, cigarette beetle, rice weevil, grain borer, warehouse beetle and more. These beetles are very small, and identification is tricky for the non-expert. The good thing is that no matter the beetle or weevil pest, the treatment is much the same, so identification isn’t really necessary.

In humid conditions, booklice (psocids) will infest dried foodstuff as well!

How do you know if you’ve got a pantry pest problem?

Most people often don’t know they have a pantry pest problem until they open a packet or container of infested food. All the beetle pests produce similar looking larvae (“curl grubs”) which are pale in colour and around 4-6mm long. They will move away from light and will often hide deep inside the food.

The different beetle species come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all are typically smaller than their larvae, typically 3-5mm long and dark brown to red brown in colour. The adult beetles will also often hide when disturbed, although some species will move towards the light. Some species are strong flyers, others more commonly walk in search of new food sources.

Perhaps the most common pantry pests are the pantry moths. Often the first sign of infestation is that the homeowner will spot small moths flying around the kitchen in the late afternoon and evening. However, often their presence will not be connected with a stored product pest infestation. That is, until at a later date, when the homeowner opens a packet of dried food to find a strange webbing over the food. This webbing is created by the moth larvae as they feed.

How to get rid of pantry pests?

Well, there’s no rocket science to this! You simply need to search through all the food containers and packets in your cupboards and throw out any infested food (by placing in a bag, sealing it and placing it in the bin. Don’t forget to check any pet foods as well.

More often than not most pantry pest infestations are brought into the home, already inside the food. So, once you’ve got rid of the infestation, it is relatively easy to prevent a reinfestation.

  1. Having emptied the food cupboards, spray the shelving with a residual insecticide such as PestXpert Pro-Spray Flying or Pestxpert Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor.
  • Have a good quality aerosol on hand (PestXpert Pro-Spray Flying) to deal with any adult moths or beetles you spot flying around the kitchen.
  • Place a moth product in the cupboard, such as PestXpert Total Moth Control, to deal with any adult pests that find their way into the cupboard.
  • Place any opened food into sealable containers, either thick plastic or glass. Tight sealing containers are required as some of the larvae can actually crawl around screw threads.
  • Consider placing unopened food that arrives in plastic packages into a suitable sealed container as some pantry pests are also capable of chewing through thin plastic wrappers.
  • Check any dried foods, cereals and pastas before you buy them or at least before you pack them away.
  • Regularly clean out and check the pantry for infested food.

Don’t forget about ants, cockroaches and rodents!

Although “pantry pests” are typically the small moths and beetles described above, ants, cockroaches and rodents can also cause problems in the pantry! Ants typically only access exposed food, but cockroaches and rodents are perfectly capable of gnawing through containers – both can chew through cardboard and rodents can also gnaw through plastic. So, keeping kitchens clean and tidy, as well as storing food in solid, sealed containers will remove temptation from a wide range of pests!

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