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If you’ve ever heard of pantry pests, it’s possible that you’ve heard them referred to as “Stored Product Pests”. If not, you’ve learned something new today. Pantry pests are oftentimes referred to as stored product pests. These pests are pests with an innate appetite for dried and processed food products. Products that can be found throughout common households.
Some of these products might include anything from flour, cereal, to dry pasta, dry pet food, powdered milk, cornstarch, crackers, spices, bread, birdseed, dried nuts, fruit, and tons more. These are just amongst some of the most common food items, but there are tons more.
You’ll quickly discover that the pantry pests include a variety of insects. Everything from the Indian meal moth to the saw-toothed grain beetle and cigarette beetle can be considered a pantry pest. That being said, it is there mentioned here that are the ones most commonly found in kitchens and homes.
These pests have an innate ability to breed, as they can breed continuously. What’s even more impressive is, they’ll live in the food products that they inhabit. Due to their unique breeding capabilities, they are capable of producing several generations of their kind in the course of a single year.
On top of all of this, they are rather stealthy. It’s entirely possible that you or your housekeeper won’t even recognize their presence in the home right away. This is why it is imperative to know and understand everything you possibly can about these critters. This will not only help keep you more informed, but it’ll better help you recognize and eliminate the critter.
What Exactly Do They Look Like?
As there are several different species of pantry pests, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with each different species and its unique characteristics. Just start with the Indian Meal Moth.
Indian Meal Moth
The Indian Meal Moth is rarely referred to by its scientific name, Plodia Interpunctella, but this is something good to know. That being said, the Indian Moth is basically just another species of the month family. It is a small moth with reddish-brown forewings with coppery luster backs and whitish gray fronts.
It is the larvae of this species that are solely responsible for all the food damage that you might notice. They attack a wide variety of dried food products with veracity.
Unfortunately, these little critters might not look like much, but they are extremely hard to eradicate from a home, as they crawl on the ceilings and spin cocoons in the rooms where they hatch. This is just another thing that can help you detect them in the home. Keep an eye out for cocoons in the corner ceilings of the kitchen nearby rooms.
Saw-Toothed Grain Beetle
Its scientific name is Oryzaephilus Surinamensis and this critter is silver bodied. It is nothing more than a brown, flat beetle that contains 1/10 inch long saw-like projectors on each side of its thorax. Just as a reminder, the thorax is the section of the pest between the head and abdomen.
In this species, both the larvae and adults feed on the dried food products, so you’ll likely have twice the mess with these critters.
These scavengers like to feed on loose or open products like flour, cereals, candies, dried fruit, and whatever else might be opened in the home. It wouldn’t be uncommon to find them in your opened pet food, birdseed, or rodent bait.
Another member of the beetle family, this one goes by the scientific name Lasioderma serricorne. It is around 1/8 inches long and has what looks like a humped-back appearance with smooth wing covers and body hairs that almost give the critter a somewhat fuzzy appearance.
This critter is referred to as a cigarette beetle because it’ll feed on cured tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars. That being said, food dried products are still not safe from the cigarette beetle, as they’ll also feed on pet foods, cereals, nuts, candy, dried peppers, wreaths, and some spices like chili powder and paprika.
Why Are They In My Home?
This is one of the first things that most homeowners are going to question. Don’t worry because even pantry pests have found their way into some of the cleanest homes in the world. These critters don’t discriminate, but there are some distinct characteristics they seek out when looking for a residence.
The most common way that pantry pests get into the home is when the homeowner introduces the pest into the home through already infected food products. For instance, if you borrow an opened box of cereal from a neighbor that is already infested with pantry pests, you are introducing them into your home. That being said, these critters can still enter the home from the outside.
Even though pantry pest infestations start out small it will not take long before their numbers are overwhelming. This is because of their ability to produce 24/7. As long as they have easy access to food sources and safe reproductive areas, their numbers are going to grow in just months.
These critters breed non-stop, so they have to live near their food source. With the right conditions, these critters can produce several generations in a single year.
Signs That You Might Be Infected With Pantry Pests
The best way to deal with an infestation is to prevent one from occurring in the first place. Harder than it sounds, but it also helps to catch the infestation early on before the numbers grow out of hand. One of the very best ways to do exactly this is by learning the signs and symptoms early on. Some of the signs of a pantry pest infestation are:
Small moths flying around food products
The presence of beetles near food packages and products
Months or beetles near lights are also a good indication, as these critters are highly attracted to light
What Are The Dangers
Really the only threat that they offer is the ruination of food products. Once they get in your food products, you’ll probably just want to discard them. Not to mention the messes that they can leave behind.
Several homeowners have ingested eggs and small larvae left behind from these critters. Do not fret though, as disgusting as this sounds, it didn’t harm the homeowners. These critters are not known for carrying or transmitting diseases, so their larvae and eggs pose no threat either.
The best way to deal with pantry pests is, preventing them from inhabiting the home in the first place. This can be more difficult than said because they often blend in with the food products that they inhabit. In addition to this, a lot of the do-it-yourself methods aren’t always successful.
The very best way to prevent an infestation is by storing all the potential food sources in air-tight containers.
Never just blindly mix is old food products with new ones unless you are 100 percent they are critter-free.
If you are unsure if a food product is infested perform a simple test. Pour the product into a clear, plastic bag and monitor it for the presence of these critters. If the product is infested you’ll see the critter in there crawling around in the next few days.
Always maintain and clean containers before filling them with new food products.
Eliminating Pantry Pests
Eliminating pantry pests might be harder than imaginable because they are so hard to detect, but not to worry. There are ways to effectively remove the critters from your home.
The most obvious way to start is by discarding all infested products. However, you do not want to just blindly throw the products away. You first want to seal them in plastic containers so the pests cannot escape. Plastic bags will be sufficient for this task.
You’ll then want to remove all your food products from the pantry and clean the pantry. Vacuum the shelves and any loose bugs that might be left behind. Be sure to get deep in the crevices because these bugs will bury themselves deep in there. When completed, you’ll want to discard the vacuum bag in the same way that you did the infected food containers.
Wash everything thoroughly before restocking the shelves and pantry.
When Can You Get Treatment?
If you even suspect that you are dealing with pantry pests you’ll want to get in touch with a reputable pest extermination company. Luckily, there will be plenty available in your area. This doesn’t mean they are all created equal so make sure you do your research. That being said, the company should be able to show up with the next 24 to 48 hours after making contact.
Are There Safe Treatments Available?
Pantry pest eliminations and treatments can involve a lot of harmful chemicals. However, there are now some eco-friendly options available. These options might be more expensive, but they offer a safer solution to your problem. In addition to this, any reputable pest management company you hire should be registered and certified with the EPA, meaning that they’ll know how to handle and deal with unsafe chemicals in the safest ways possible.
Preventing Future Infestations
The best way to deal with pantry pests is by preventing them from getting into the home in the first place. Of course, much harder than it might sound. That being said, sealing your products in air-tight containers, keeping your pantry clean, and always keeping a watchful eye are the very best ways to stay ahead of the game. Also, be careful and sure to thoroughly inspect any used food products you introduce into your pantry.