Merchant grain beetle in white background walking between food crumbs. Oryzaephilus mercator

What to Do if You Have Pantry Pests

Imagine digging through your pantry in search of ingredients to bake chocolate chip cookies, only to find insects hiding in the bag of flour or brown sugar? These insects are known as stored product pests or pantry pests due to their tendency to gather around food products stored in pantries and cabinets.

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to encounter merchant grain beetles, Indian meal moths, flour beetles and other stored product pests. These insects are often brought into the home unknowingly in items stored in paper packaging and unsealed bags. For this reason, it’s important to inspect all items for signs of damage before bringing them indoors!

Merchant Grain Beetles

Merchant grain beetles are (surprisingly) not commonly found in raw grain products. Instead, they prefer to devour processed cereal, cake mix, cookies, and chocolate. Merchant grain beetles are brown with flat bodies and have six saw-like teeth on either side of their bodies.

Indian Meal Moths

The Indian meal moth was given its name after an insect scientist found it feeding on cornmeal, also known as Indian meal. They like to feed on dried fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, chocolate, candies, bird seed, dog food, powdered milk, dried red peppers and candy. Indian meal moths have an elongated oval shaped body, and their wings are gray in color except for the rear half which are a distinctive rusty bronze color.

Flour Beetles

Flour beetles consume wheat and other grains, have adapted to survive in very dry environments, and can withstand even higher amounts of radiation than cockroaches. Their larvae are mealworms and they can be devastating to large stores of cereal and other grains. Flour beetles are shiny and reddish-brown in color, they have a flattened, oval shaped body, and they are winged.

Prevention Tips

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends the following tips to keep from bringing pantry pests home:

Shop smart: Most pantry pests are brought into homes through products that are already infested. If an item shows any signs of damage, opt for another bag or box.

Seal items: Proper food storage can go a long way in preventing an infestation. Once packages are opened, move ingredients into a sealed glass or Tupperware-type container with a secure lid before storing them in the pantry or cabinet.

Use bay leaves: Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour, rice and other grains. The herb’s pungent scent repels many pantry pests.

Check dates: Remember to check expiration dates on ingredients before use. Periodically sort through old items in the pantry and toss out anything that has been stored for a long time.

Clean often: Immediately wipe up any crumbs or spills from countertops, tables, floors and shelves. Occasionally empty the cupboards and clean them with soap and water to get rid of residue and anything that may be hiding inside.

If you spot a pantry pest in your food, immediately dispose of it in a sealed, outdoor trash can. A licensed pest control professional should be called in for assistance in eliminating a full-blown infestation.

If you suspect that your pantry has unwanted residents, contact Alexandria Pest Services today. Our team of expert technicians will provide a free inspection and work to create a plan to eliminate your pests. At Alexandria Pest Services, we help homeowners just like you get rid of pests in their homes all year round. If you find that you are having a problem with insects or pests, and need an exterminator, call Alexandria Pest Services at 703-923-0925 to schedule a professional evaluation. We can help you get rid of these invaders in your home or office!