Pantry Pests

Table of Contents

What Are Pantry Pests?

When most people hear the term pantry pest, they think they have a good understanding of this classification of insect. Sure, there is a lot you can discern from the name alone. The name alone likely tells many that these are a classification of insects that like to get in your pantry. Indeed this is true, but do you know why they are getting into your pantry? Do you know how they are getting in your pantry? These are the things you are going to need to know and understand in order to learn how to attack the infestation with the utmost efficiency. You need to know these things and more. That being said, here’s where you are going to want to start:

  • Many experts will refer to these pests as stored product pests. This is because they commonly feed on stored products. Dried and processed food products are food that is commonly found in most households.
  • Products that fall into the category of stored products are flour, cereal, dry pasta, dry pet food, powdered milk, cornstarch, crackers, spices, bread, birdseed, dried nuts, fruits, and tons more…
  • There are a variety of pests that make up the pantry pests classification, but there are only a few that you will have to deal with in Norfolk. These would include the Indian Meal Moth, the Saw-Toothed Grain Beetle, and the Cigarette Beetle.
  • Pantry pests have the uncanny ability to breed continuously. You likely don’t need anyone to tell you that this means they can reproduce extremely quickly.
  • These insects are capable of producing several generations in the course of a single year.
  • Just because they are in the home, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the cleanliness of the home.

Learning Their Characteristics

While all the critters mentioned above fall into the pantry pest classification, it doesn’t necessarily mean they all have the same temperament. They certainly don’t look the same. Regardless, learning to identify the pests will be the key to eliminating them. You’ll likely have to deal with each specific pest in a different manner. Here’s where you’ll want to start:

The Indian Meal Moth

  • Known by their scientific name Plodia interpuctella, the Indian Meal Moth is a small moth with two sets of wings.
  • The back half is reddish-brown, while the front is whitish gray.
  • It is the larvae that tear up the stored products in the home. They’ll attack a wide range of stored products, including the ones mentioned above.
  • These critters can be more difficult than most to eliminate because they crawl on the ceilings and spin cocoons in other rooms than the kitchen or pantry.

The Saw-Toothed Grain Beetle

  • It sometimes goes by the scientific name Orzaephilus surinamensis with its slender and flat bodies.
  • They can grow to be about 1/10 inches long and have six saw-like tooth projections on each side of the thorax.
  • The thorax is the section between the head and abdomen.
  • Both the larvae and adults feed on the dried products in the home.

The Cigarette Beetle

  • With the scientific name of Lasioderma serricorne, the Cigarette Beetle is light brown and grows to about 1/8 inches in length.
  • They also have a hump-backed appearance with smooth wing covers and body hairs that almost make them look fuzzy.
  • While they do feed on stored products, they also feed on cured tobacco.
  • Not even your dried cigarettes and cigars will be safe from these critters.

Why Do People Have Pantry Pests?

You just learned above that pantry pests in the home are not a sign of cleanliness. Just because you have these guys in the home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your home can be classified as dirty. These guys have been found in some of the cleanest homes in America. That being said, they are most commonly inadvertently brought into the home. People buy food from markets, bring it home, mix it with their old food, and later discover that it was infested. When this happens, it won’t be long before you are dealing with a full-blown infestation.

This is because these critters have the uncanny ability to mate non-stop. They can mate continuously because they live in the food products they feed on.

Spotting The Signs Of A Pantry Pest Infestation

It doesn’t matter what type of insect you are dealing with, you’ll have to learn to spot the early warning signs. The earlier you detect the infestation, the much better off you’ll be. This is especially true when dealing with a critter like a pantry pest. Unfortunately, pantry pests can oftentimes be overlooked. This is because they are not only extremely small in size, but they are usually the same colors as the products they feed on. Simply put, learning to spot the early warning signs is essential.

Keep an eye out for flying moths. If you have pantry pests it likely won’t be long before flying moths follow. Moths are attracted to light and will likely fly around the light in the kitchen or pantry. If you have moths in the home, don’t just assume that they’ve come inside from the outside because of the light. It could be that there are there because of pantry pests.

Are Pantry Pests Dangerous?

All in all, there aren’t a lot of good things that you can say about pantry pests. However, at least you do not have to worry about them poisoning or infecting you. They don’t bite, they don’t sting, and they certainly don’t transmit diseases. They don’t carry parasites either, which is another positive. That being said, they can do immense amounts of damage to your food products. Although it would not be ideal, one can ingest these bugs or their larvae without getting sick. The thought might make you queasy, but you will not physically contract any kind of disease from the event.

How To Prevent Future Infestations

It is always best to stop a problem before it starts. The only problem is, this isn’t always entirely possible. It’s especially hard when dealing with a critter like the pantry pests. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can’t do or you shouldn’t do them. There are plenty of things you can do and doing them will go a long way. Here’s how you’ll want to start:

  • Always store your dry food products in tight-fitting, sealed containers. Keep in mind that these critters can chew through cardboard and paper products. Never assume critters can’t get to unopened packages.
  • Clean your pantry shelves on a regular basis. Always make sure you immediately remove any food crumbs that find their way into the pantry.
  • Never combine old and new food products blindly without checking them.
  • If you are not sure whether a product is infested or not, you can pour it into a clear, plastic container, give it a few days, and the critters will likely make their presence known.
  • Always clean your old containers before mixing in new food products. Clean them with some kind of cleaning solvent.

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