The following scenario can happen to anyone: You open the cupboard and pull out a box of oatmeal-only to see weevils inside.
Short of screaming for help and dropping the box, what can a home or business owner do?
Before you can fight common pantry pests that invade your food cupboard or commissary, you need to know your enemy. Only then can you find a permanent solution for annoying pantry insects. Browse the list below to learn more.
- Indian Meal Moths
You may remember reading about Indian meal moths in an earlier blog post. However, if you’ve never seen them before, watch for them in grain products, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, and legumes.
Depending on your food container, you can salvage infested food by either freezing it for seven days or putting in an oven (set to 140 degrees) for about fifteen minutes. Otherwise, toss it out immediately and take the disposable bag to the outside garbage can. This way, infested food won’t contaminate anything else indoors.
- Flour Beetles
Despite their name, flour beetles are attracted to both cereal and flour. Today’s flour and grain mills have to stay on constant guard against them.
Flour beetles come in several varieties, including the black, false black, red, broadhorned, and depressed flour beetles. Despite having wings, most flour beetles don’t fly-the red flour beetle being the exception.
Most adult flour beetles can easily crawl into packages, even if the packages appear sealed. If you notice that flour smells bad or appears discolored, suspect flour beetles and throw the flour away. Wash and disinfect all nearby containers and cupboard shelves.
Keep in mind that flour beetles may prove too resilient to eliminate fully on your own. If so, contact your pest control company for help.
- Sawtoothed Grain Beetles
Like flour beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles like cereal. However, you may also find this beetle species in a package of dried fruit or beef jerky, a bag of pasta, or in nuts and seeds.
Each beetle averages 1/10 of an inch. Look for slim, reddish-brown or nearly black bugs with jagged teeth (hence, the ‘sawtooth’ name) on the bug’s thorax.
As previously mentioned, throw away any and all infested food right away, sealing garbage bags tightly and leaving them outside or in a metal waste bin with a close-fitting lid. Thoroughly clean cupboards and adjacent areas.
These insects are slim, brown, and marked by a large tube-like snout between the bug’s antennae. Some weevils also have orange spots on their wings.
In practice, weevils generally target whole grains and seeds. Some species target flour, but you’ll more often find grain weevils in bags of rice or wheat. If you notice whole kernels containing round holes, suspect weevils and throw the grain out.
Once you’ve seen this slim insect with a teardrop-shaped body, you’ll recognize the species easily over time. Silverfish have a silver cast but may also look blue-gray or even slightly brown.
Silverfish love damp places, so they often live in the kitchen or bathroom. Although silverfish don’t eat human foods per se, they enjoy starches and sugars found in food packaging, book-binding blue, and liquid soap. You may find them in unopened packages in your pantry or near damp areas in your kitchen.
If you see signs of more than one or two silverfish, contact a pest control expert.
Few pests are as persistent as household ants. Whether they be tiny black ants or larger species, any ant represents one too many when it comes to protecting your kitchen cupboards.
Like many other pests, ants gravitate toward sugary substances and foods that sit on the counter too long. You may resort to folk remedies like cinnamon (sprinkled near the base of your building) or Formula 409 spray-but some ant species resist every method you can devise.
If nothing seems to work, call your pest control technician. An experienced pest management company will understand local species better than you, and certified technicians will have a smart plan to get rid of ants in your pantry.
Most bug companies advise home or business owners to keep their food in glass containers with airtight lids. Metal also works, so long as lids have a tight seal.
Inspect packaging each time you buy food at the store. If the seal is loose or the container is slightly crumpled, the package becomes an easier target for bugs. Choose another package instead.
If you can avoid buying a lot of grains and cereals in bulk, do so. The longer your goods sit in the pantry, the easier they are for bugs to infiltrate over time. Canned goods are no problem; just watch out for thin cardboard packages or plastic bags closed with twisty ties.
Finally, clean your pantry regularly and put perishable foods in the refrigerator so they don’t invite insect invaders.
Contact Chem-Wise if you need help getting rid of further persistent pantry pests!