- Author: Anne E Schellman
If you've been startled by insects crawling in a food package or moths flying around your kitchen, you might have a pantry pest infestation. These insects are brought into your home inside food packages such as nuts, grains, cereal products, and even chocolate!
This distinctive looking moth flutters around your kitchen, distracting you from the real culprit, their larvae. These caterpillar-like insects do all the real damage when they feed inside packages of cereal, flour, rice, dried fruit, candy, and nuts. You might also see tiny webs inside packages, this is the silken cocoon of the insect before it changes into a moth. Killing off the moths won't solve your problem.
There are several beetles that infest food, including warehouse beetles, grain beetles, cigarette beetles, and flour beetles. They feed on a variety of products including bird seed, pet food, tobacco products, animal hair (like wool), dried herbs and spices, dried meat and fruit, and even rodent bait.
What Should You Do?
Although it might feel satisfying, spraying a pesticide is not an effective way to get rid of these pests. First, find the source of the problem. Look through all grain products and packages in your kitchen, especially opened packages. When you find the pests, seal the packages and throw them away. Remove everything from your shelves and wipe with soapy water to kill pests. Vacuum any crevices where pests or pest eggs may be hiding.
Watch this short video below from UC IPM for more detailed information on dealing with pantry pests. You can also read in more detail in the UC IPM Pest Notes: Pantry Pests.