Now that the fall season has officially arrived many people are stocking up on food products in preparation for Halloween and Christmas cooking and baking. These baking products include flour, baking soda, cornmeal, sugar, spices and many other products that tend to remain within pantries for long periods of time. Unfortunately, the most common insect pests that infest pantries and kitchen cupboards do so in order to consume baking products, but a significant number of insect pests will feed on just about any type of stored food product. These insect pest species are aptly referred to as “stored product pests,” and this group of pests are comprised of beetles, weevils, moths and ants. Stored product pests break the cardboard or plastic surface of unopened stored food products in order to feed on the contents. Most of these pests infest food items during their larval stage, but adults can be problematic within a home in other ways. Unfortunately, most stored product pests are difficult to see within infested food items, and they spread germs and fecal matter within foods that can make people sick.
Considering that many insect pests infest houses in order to seek out human food sources, it should not be surprising to learn that an entire group of insects infest stored food kept within kitchens and pantries. In some cases, stored product pests infest packaged food items in warehouses before they are shipped to grocery stores. When it comes to beetles, the most common pantry pest include drugstore beetles, confused flour beetles and red flour beetles. These beetle pests access food by creating two perfectly rounded holes the size of pencil led on packaging, and all food items infested with any of these pests should be discarded. Cereals, flour, cornmeal and dry pasta are the food items most commonly found infested by beetle pantry pests. Quarter inch long Indian meal moth larvae are also common pantry pests that infest pasta, nuts, birdseed and dog food. Food items infested by these pests will contain webs and visible caterpillars. When stored product pests are found in a pantry, all compromised food items should be thrown out and all shelves thoroughly cleaned. Commercially available baits can be used to eradicate ants and aerosol insecticides can be used on most pantry pests. However, most infestations are not noticed until they become advanced, making professional pest control a necessity in most infestation cases.
Have you ever found bugs within a food product after you opened the package?