As many people you know have turned to baking during quarantine, it is likely that ingredients such as flour will continue to be in high demand. While you may be tempted to stock up when you find these ingredients, you should also consider how to properly store your ingredients to prevent pests.
Insects can easily be introduced into kitchens and pantries through infested material such as flour, dried fruits, and other grains. These pests can go unnoticed when materials are first brought home because the insects may be present as eggs or larvae. If you are purchasing items like flour or sugar from bulk bins, be sure to store your ingredients to tightly sealed containers at home. This practice can deter stored product pests such as meal moths and pantry beetles and can also be helpful in preventing cockroaches, ants, mice or rats from becoming a problem. If you are purchasing large quantities of these items, consider how quickly you are consuming them. See the UC Food Safety website for more information on food storage and food safe practices.
Indian meal moth adult in wheat flour. (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)
General housekeeping practices can also help prevent or reduce pest problems. Tasks such as wiping down counter tops, cleaning off pantry shelves, and cleaning up spilled food or dirty dishes will remove potential food sources that can be attractive to kitchen and pantry pests. Combine prevention and sanitation IPM approaches to keep the cookies and bread coming and the pests away.