Few areas of the home are more prone to infestations than your pantry. The abundance of food and ease of access make it an easy target for a variety of pests. Although you have many declared enemies, you should expect your food reserves to fall into the hands of beetles, moths, ants and other small insects, which prefer a balanced menu, comprised of seeds, corn, rice, and barley.
Once inside, pantry pests will not only cause damage to stored products, but they can also contaminate your food and put your family in danger of becoming seriously ill. Not to mention that infestation can rapidly spread from foods in the pantry to valuable clothes, woolens and furs in the closet.
In order to help you prevent and control pantry infestations, following is a list of the 7 most common stored food pests and how to identify them.
Confused Flour Beetle
The confused flour beetle is one of the most prevalent insects you will find infesting the stored grains and foods in your home. The confused flour beetle typically prefers finely ground or bro-ken materials like flour or meal, but they are known to feed on a wide variety of foods, including beans, peas, cereals, baking powders, dried fruits, and cayenne pepper. The insect is reddish brown in color and measures at around 1/7 inch long. Hundreds of these bugs may live and re-produce in a single box of food, so be sure to inspect even the smallest of stored foods for their presence.
Sawtoothed Grain Beetle
Like the confused flour beetle, the sawtoothed grain beetle is another one of the most common pests of stored food products in homes and commercial facilities. Their bodies are flat, with six tiny projections found on either side of their head – the same feature that gives them their unique name. The sawtoothed grain beetle is not attracted to light and cannot fly, so their detection can be more difficult than that of other similar pests. Homeowners typically report their presence in stored food products or find them crawling on countertops and in cabinets.
The carpet beetle is one of the most common insects that infest homes in the northern region of North America. The insects and their larvae can be found on a variety of materials throughout the home, including most stored food products and anything of animal origin. Carpet beetles are oval in shape, around 1/8 inch long, and may be black or covered in colored scales. Many infes-tations originate from wild populations entering homes in search of food during the warmer months of the year, so take extra
measures to prevent access to your home during this period.
Rice weevils are dark reddish-brown beetles with large, pale spots on each wing cover and a long snout. You will typically find these bugs near corn kernels, as this is a preferred area to lay their eggs. Once hatched, the larvae require a food source with a hard or semi-hard-coating, hence the common location of their infestations. Other foods often infested by rice weevils in-clude rye, barley, cereals, wheat, dried peas, beans, and nuts. Adults may be located throughout your home on both food and non-food items, and due to their ability to fly, an infestation can travel throughout your home in no time.
Spider beetles get their name from their striking resemblance to spiders. Complete with long legs and relatively large abdomens, these bugs are general scavengers often found in pantries and food storage units. Spider beetles are around 1.5 to 3.5 millimeters in length and have a reddish-brown to a dark hue to their body. If your stored food is infested, your best bet is to hunt the pesky bugs at night, as they typically forage for food after the sun goes down. Look in areas high in moisture, as well as in the cracks of walls and in the attic.
Indian Meal Moth
The Indian meal moth gets its name from its favorite food source, also known as cornmeal. These winged insects are typically an inch in length and have dark brown color with white spots on their wings. Their typical diet plan consists of dried fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, chocolate, candies, and even pet food. A good way to identify these bugs in your pantry is to shine a flash-light, as they are drawn to the light, and catch them on the spot.
Although its name comes from its fondness of infesting tobacco-based products, the cigarette beetle is also prevalent in home food storage as well. The bugs are light brown in color, with a hump-backed appearance and typically measure 1/8 inch in length. Cigarette beetles are exter-nal feeders, meaning they feed on the shell of the grain, but they are known to eat a variety of common pantry-based foods, including pepper, paprika, chili, cottonseed meal, pasta, seeds, ginger, and dates.
If you come across any of these common stored-food pests, their immediate removal should be your top priority. The longer these insects infest your pantry, the higher the chance your food will become contaminated and lead to serious health illness if consumed. There are a variety of treatment options available, although utilizing chemical-free solutions is the preferred and safe way to avoid damage to your food and keep your family healthy. If you have any trouble manag-ing these pests, don’t hesitate to contact your local pest control professional for assistance in effective treatment and prevention.
About the Author:
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.