Uh-oh…you’re sure you closed that bag of flour and now it’s open. Worse still, there’s a cardboard box that has a hole in one of the corners.
Looks like there are pests helping themselves to the food in your pantry—but what could they be?
Today, we’re talking about the different types of pests that raid your pantry and what you can do to get rid of them. Keep reading to find out how to make sure that your cooking and baking is pest-free.
Having pests in your pantry is not just disgusting; it’s also unsanitary and hazardous to your health, as the pests spoil and contaminate your food.
Many different pests can take up residence in your home, from termites to spiders, but there are only a few types that will decide to dwell in your pantry. These pests attack your cereal, flour, sugar, spices, herbs, baking chocolate, pet food, and just about anything else you keep in your pantry.
So-called “pantry pests” include species of beetles and weevils and flour moths. Other pests that may invade your pantry are cockroaches and rodents. Let’s talk about each of these in a bit more detail.
The cigarette beetle, confused flour beetle, drugstore beetle, sawtoothed grain beetle, carpet beetle, cabinet beetle, and spider beetle are among those that you might find in your pantry.
These species of beetles vary in appearance, with bodies that may be shaped like coffee beans or grains of rice; however, they are very small—typically 1/4-inch in length—with six legs and two antennae. Depending on the species, they are reddish-brown to black in color.
Some beetle species can fly (the confused flour beetle) while others cannot (the sawtoothed grain beetle).
Weevils are actually a type of beetle, usually dark brown or black in color. The most common weevils can be distinguished by their long snout, which makes them look something like the insect version of an anteater! Like beetles, weevils are very small, reaching only about 1/2 inch in length at most.
Flour moths include Indianmeal moths, Mediterranean moths, and Angoumois grain moths. These are small moths, with a wingspan of only about 1/2 inch. They may be a coppery brown (Indianmeal moths), gray with black stripes (Mediterranean moths) or brown (Angoumois moths).
Cockroaches don’t dwell exclusively in your pantry: they’ll eat just about any organic matter, moving throughout your house to do so. Still, they are often found in kitchens because of the abundance of food there.
The most common cockroaches in the area include American, German, Oriental, wood, and brownbanded species. Cockroaches have an oval-shaped body, six legs, and two antennae, and may be brown or black in color. They range in size from 1/2 inch (German cockroach) to 1 1/2 inches (American cockroach).
Like cockroaches, rodents may be found throughout the home but will often come into the kitchen to feed. Problem rodents include various species of mice (like house and deer mice) and rats (like Norway rats). Mice and rats can be sometimes difficult to tell apart, but they are generally distinguished by their size (mice are smaller than rats).
Signs of a Pantry Pest Infestation
The signs of a pantry pest infestation will depend on the invading pest.
In the case of pantry pests—like beetles, weevils, and moths—the first sign is typically the sighting of the adult pest. (These pests are very small, and the developing stages are not easily visible.) You might, for example, notice small moths flying around your kitchen or a few beetles crawling on your pantry shelf. Generally, the more insects you find, the older the infestation: the pests have had lots of time to reproduce.
In the case of cockroaches, there are several signs that your home has an infestation: you may see a live or dead roach, find cylindrical brown or black-colored roach feces, or smell a musty odor. Cockroaches are excellent at hiding and are more active at night. If you see a roach during the day, it means that the infestation has gotten so large that the roaches have run out of available hiding places.
Finally, in the case of rodents, the signs of an infestation will be similar to those of a roach infestation: you may find live or dead rodents, find rodent droppings, or smell a pungent odor from urine or deceased rodents. You may also hear sounds (especially at night) like scratching, gnawing, squeaking, and scurrying.
How to Get Rid of Pantry Pests
If you suspect that you have pests in your kitchen and pantry, the first thing to do (after identifying the offending pest) is clean, clean, clean.
If you have pantry pests, like beetles or moths, you will need to find the items in your pantry that are infested. Do a thorough search of your cabinets and shelves: homeowners often find that there is a long-forgotten bag of flour or box of crackers feeding and housing these pests. Once you’ve found the infested items, dispose of them immediately. If you’ve seen many bugs, there’s sure to be a number of infested items, as the bugs spread from the original source of the infestation in search of more food. Then, make sure to clean the cabinets with hot, soapy water and vacuum them—using the crevice attachment to get into all the nooks and crannies. This should get rid of the pantry pests.
To avoid this problem in the future, make sure not to purchase goods in packages that are damaged or damp, and store problem items in sealed containers.
For cockroaches and rodents, you should also clean your kitchen and pantry thoroughly. This includes wiping down and vacuuming cabinets, wiping off counters, stovetops, and other surfaces, sweeping the floor, cleaning up clutter where pests can hide, taking out the trash, and washing dirty dishes. These cleaning tasks should be done daily: poor sanitation contributes to cockroach and rodent infestations.
While cleaning won’t get rid of the roaches or rodents, it will remove sources of food and make your home less hospitable for pests. In order to get rid of cockroaches or rodents, further steps must be taken. These include locating the source of the infestation, sealing any cracks and crevices large enough for pests to enter your home, and strategically placing baits or traps.
Call Us Today
If you have an infestation of cockroaches or rodents, it’s often a good idea to call in the professionals. These pests are a lot harder to remove from the home than a flour moth—not to mention more destructive, disgusting, and disease-ridden! A qualified pest control expert has the time, knowledge, and tools necessary to find the source of the infestation, remove the pests, and prevent future infestations.
Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We've been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.
Authored By: Eric Scherzinger