Control “pantry pests”

Finding insects infesting your dry food is not an uncommon problem. Keep insects out of your pantry with these tips.

It is a very common problem for insects to get into the dried food that is stored in your home. These insects are often called "pantry pests,” and ruin more food than they eat since most people won’t eat food once they find insects in it. Fortunately, these kinds of insects don’t bite or sting people or pets, nor do they damage the home structure.

However, these insects eat almost any kind of dried food. Here are some examples:

  • Grains like flour, cake mix, cornmeal, rice, pasta, crackers and cookies
  • Seeds, nuts and dried beans
  • Spices
  • Dry powdered milk
  • Dry pet food

There are several ways insects can get into dried food beyond simply entering your home. Sometimes insects get into dried food at a processing plant or warehouse while it is being shipped to a store; they can also enter packages when they sit on the shelves at a store before you purchase it. Though insects can get into food at any time, the longer it’s stored, the more likely it is that insects will get in it.

Pantry pests most often appear in opened packages of food but they can break through unopened paper, thin cardboard, plastic, foil or cellophane. Once they are in your food, these insects can begin to multiply and spread to other dried food in your cupboard. They can also feed on bits of food in the corners, cracks or crevices of your cupboard.

Keeping insects from getting into your dried food is easier than cleaning up after they have been discovered. Follow these suggestions to prevent infestation:

  • Buy dried food in small quantities so it does not sit on the shelf too long.
  • Look carefully before you buy food in packages or bulk quantity. Make sure packages are sealed and that there are no holes in the packaging or wrapping. Do not buy any food past the freshness date stamped on the package.
  • Keep food, especially food that takes longer to use, in tightly closed glass, metal or heavy plastic containers with tight lids.
  • You can also refrigerate any food that is likely to get insects in it.
  • Wipe up crumbs and spilled food to keep food storage areas clean.

If you find insects in your food, throw away all food that has insects in it. Empty and thoroughly clean cabinets with a vacuum cleaner, especially the cracks and corners.  Empty the vacuum cleaner or throw away the vacuum cleaner bag after you have cleaned so the insects don’t re-enter your home. Do not use insect spray inside your cupboards. It in not effective at getting rid of the pests and my poison your food!

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources