Grain and pantry pests are bugs that live and thrive in dry food such as cereal, rice, nuts, beans, or boxes of pasta. A lot of homeowners and commercial property managers suffer from grain and pantry pest infestations. Nothing is worse than reaching for a box of pasta and finding bugs crawling around inside. Although there are many types of grain and pantry pests in California, the most common are the confused flour beetle and the Indian meal moth.
Confused Flour Beetle
According to Purdue University, confused flour beetles are called “confused” not because they are aloof, but because they are very frequently confused with red flour beetles. Confused flour beetles are about 1/8 inch long and red/brown with a shiny body. Adults can live three years, reproducing for one year! If the infestation goes unnoticed, hundreds of larvae can take over pancake mix, flour, and other good at a rapid pace.
Indian Meal Moths
Moths are easily recognizable flying pests that range from small to very large in size. According to the Smithsonian, there are around 160,000 species of moth worldwide (11,000 in the United States), but only 17,500 species of butterfly. The most common pantry moth is the Indian meal moth. They lay eggs within packaging and grains. After pupating, Indian meal moths hatch and infest good such as nuts, dried fruits, and cereal.
What attracts grain and pantry pests to my house?
Grain and pantry pests commonly infest products within warehouses and food production facilities that send goods directly to grocery stores. If the item is already infested, the box of pasta or crackers that you brought home from the grocery store is now an unknown infestation within your house. Much like bed bugs that hitchhike from place to place, moth and beetles travel via an already infested item. Pantry pests can feed on cereals, various grains, crackers, spices, macaroni, dried fruit, chocolate, candy, nuts, dried peas or beans as well as pet food, like bird seed or dog food. They aren’t very picky and can quickly take over your pantry or wherever food is stored in your house. If a container is easily penetrable such as cardboard canisters and boxes, pantry pests can get in. Pantry pests can also be a problem for restaurants and warehouses.
Do grain and pantry pests contaminate food?
Yes, pantry pests contaminate food. To reproduce and survive, moths and beetles lay larvae within the actual food. If you find confused flour beetles or Indian meal moths in your kitchen, throw the food that they are infesting away immediately. It can even help get rid of the infestation!
How can I prevent grain and pantry pests?
Grain and pantry pests are attracted to dry foods. The best way to stop them from infesting is to move all items that are stored in cardboard such as canisters that hold breadcrumbs and oats, or cereal and rice in boxes, into airtight containers. If you find confused flour beetles or Indian meal moths in your dry goods, throw it away immediately and bring the garbage outdoors, placing it into a sealed garbage can.