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How to Get Rid of the 3 Most Common Pantry Pests

By Thorn Team • Feb 22nd 2022

Are you finding pantry pests in your drawers, cupboards, shelves or storage areas? Are there webs and strange gritty powder in your flour or grains?

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It sounds like you're dealing with a pantry pest problem.

What are they, and more importantly, how do you get rid of them? Continue reading for help in identifying and eradicating pantry pests.

The 3 Most Common Pantry Pests

There are a variety of pests that could be infesting your pantry. Maybe you've seen adults, or maybe you've noticed little worms (larvae) in your flours and grains. Thankfully, regardless of the pantry pest, control and management tactics are the same.

Generally speaking, the three most common pantry pests are:

  1. Pantry moths
  2. Pantry beetles
  3. Grain Weevils

The Signs of a Pantry Pest Infestation

While it may seem obvious, pantry pest control is all about prevention.

Pantry pests love grains and dried goods. They are common in kitchens and food storage areas where, if left alone for long enough, they can cost a lot in spoiled food.

By knowing what activity to look for and performing a quick but thorough inspection, you are more likely to escape a pantry pest issue from the beginning and keep your kitchen pest free.

Aside from finding adult insects in your stored food products, here are some pantry pest signs to lookout for:

  • Small, sometimes hairy worms squirming around in stored products
  • Sawdust-like, gritty dust (also called frass) inside stored product bags
  • Molted insect skins
  • Fine, cobweb like strands in or on the sides of stored product bags
  • Kernels or grains that have been chewed or broken in pieces

SOME QUICK ADVICE FROM THORN: It's important to know that pantry pests are commonly brought inside from other places, especially the grocery store. Pantry pests love grains and can often be found in large, unsealed or non-airtight containers of flours and dried goods.

If you're serious about avoiding pantry pests for good, inspect products before you purchase them and glance over them again before you bring them inside. If you don't feel comfortable playing pest detective, contact a local pest control company that specializes in Integrated Pest Management.

Are you located in Utah? You're in luck! Here at Thorn, we have a team of highly trained and well-equipped IPM specialists ready to put your mind at ease. If you have any questions regarding a pest issue, please reach out to us.

5 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Pantry Pests

If you've found pantry pests in your kitchen, don't panic and don't run for the insect spray!

Many people believe that effective pest control requires chemical treatment. This leads to lots of wasted money and lots of unnecessary risk.

Luckily, by using IPM strategies, pantry pest problems can be resolved in other ways and rarely require the use of insecticide (insect poison) for control.

1. Inspect, Identify and Eliminate Pantry Pest Sources

The first step in any pest control strategy is to assess the situation and identify the source(s) of your pest issue.

Pantry pests are commonly brought into homes from the grocery store. Inspect goods before purchasing them or before bringing them inside and keep infested items out of your home.

If you already have an established pantry pest problem, seek to find what the pests are feeding on. Also be sure to check the other stored goods around that area to make sure the infestation hasn't spread.

Looking for the source of a pantry pest issue is a lot easier when you know what food sources they prefer. Start by looking near the following products and dried goods:

  • Rice
  • Flours and baking mixes
  • Cereals
  • Pastas
  • Animal foods
  • Spices
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Bird seed
  • Dried flowers
  • Whole or cracked grain
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit

Because they're attracted to a variety of foods, pantry pests can spread throughout a food storage area. They can also be difficult to track down as they are commonly in spaces that aren't accessed regularly.

If you find pantry pests in some of your dried goods, it is always best to dispose of these products, so the infestation does not spread. If you need to avoid the financial losses of disposing of large quantities of food, you could consider a temperature treatment to help remedy your pantry pest issue.

2. Heat Treatments and Cold Treatments for Pantry Pests

CAUTION: Before going this route, consider whether heating or freezing your items is a practical option to begin with. If you have a large quantity of food you are trying to save without access to a large oven or freezer, this method could be difficult. Also keep in mind that temperature treatments (both hot and cold) can have a negative impact on the consistency of certain products. Consider testing these methods with a smaller quantity of dried goods first to observe any adverse effects.

In order to heat treat for panty pests, infested food items will need to be heated in an oven at 130-140�F until heated all the way through (between 30-60 minutes).

On the other hand, a cold treatment involves placing items in a freezer that reaches 0�F or lower. The items must remain in the freezer for anywhere between 4 to 7 days, until the items are frozen all the way through.

Both methods, when done properly, should kill all stages of insect life, but if the items are not temperature treated all the way through, pest issues could pop back up.

3. Vacuum to Avoid Pantry Pests

Once you have eliminated any infested food items, it's time to give a deep cleaning to your food storage areas. Use your vacuum to clean up even the smallest grain particles and flour bits, and plan to do this on a regular basis.

CAUTION: Scrubbing infested areas with soap and water can actually create a feeding site for these pests and is not necessary in the control of pantry pests. Eliminating feeding sites and keeping grain bits cleaned up with a vacuum will be your main defense when it comes to sanitary measures.

4. Properly Contain Your Grains

All the work to get rid of pantry pests will be in vain if you don't take adequate steps to keep these pests away long-term.

It is very important to keep grain products and dried food goods stored in proper containers. Pantry pests can chew through paper, cardboard and foil, so don't rely on these materials to keep them out.

SOME QUICK ADVICE FROM THORN: If your flour or grains come in large paper bags, this will not keep pantry pests out or in. Pantry pests commonly come inside within bags of bulk flours or grains. If the pests come from the store in bags of flour or grains, they can chew through the paper bag and infest other items.

Store susceptible products in locking, airtight containers, preferably ones that have a rubber gasket seal on the lid. Not only will this keep pantry pests out, but if you happen to bring them in, it will contain them to that one product and not allow further spread or damage.

5. FIFO, FIFO, FIFO!

In the food production and food service industries, FIFO stands for first in, first out and involves the proper rotation of food items to make sure goods don't expire or sit in storage too long.

Whether your pantry pest issue is commercial or residential, FIFO rules will help. Take these steps to properly FIFO in your kitchen or food storage area:

  • Only buy what you can use within 1-2 months. If you need to store grains for longer, opt for whole grains but understand that they could still be infested with pantry pests.
  • When it comes to grinding flour, less is more. If you are grinding your own grains, only grind what you need, and store any unused flour in a tightly sealed metal or plastic container.
  • Check expiration dates. The key to FIFO is making sure that if the food is going to expire first, you use it first. If you have 3 bags of pasta but one expires in March and one expires in September, use the product with the earlier expiration date first. This ensures that products susceptible to pantry pests do not sit in storage for extended periods.

Professional Control of Pantry Pests

Most homeowners can tackle a pantry pest issue on their own without chemicals by disposing of infested items and properly cleaning food storage spaces. In certain situations, however, control of pantry pests can be more difficult, especially when it comes to commercial accounts.

If you have run into a puzzling or severe pantry pest issue that you can't get a hold of, a local pest control company that specializes in Integrated Pest Management can help you identify pantry pest sources and come up with a plan to keep pantry pests away in the long run.

Pantry pests are incredibly common throughout the world, and our home state of Utah is no exception!

If you live in Utah and you are having trouble getting a handle on a pantry pest issue, we can help! Feel free to contact us anytime for help in identifying, reducing and eliminating pantry pests.

About Thorn

Thorn is a Utah local pest management company. We are a QualityPro certified company which is a prestigious accreditation awarded too less than 3% of the pest management companies in the US.

Contact Us Today

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About Thorn

Thorn is a Utah local pest management company. We are a QualityPro certified company which is a prestigious accreditation awarded too less than 3% of the pest management companies in the US.

Contact Us Today