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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce


Get rid of pantry pests

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension

No one is immune to having an infestation of those pesky little bugs that get into the food in your pantry. When you do spot one on the shelf or in your food, it’s important to know how to get rid of them and what you can do to decrease the chance that it will happen again.


The first sign that you have pantry pests is the presence of small brown beetles, moths or worms in your cupboards or even on the kitchen counter. They can come from a lot of places. You can bring them home in a package you buy at the grocery store. They can even fly in the house through an open door or window or crawl through the tiniest crack.


Two of the most common types are grain and flour beetles and flour moths. The grain and flour beetles are small flat brown bugs. They like to eat flour, cornmeal and cereal. You can also find these pests in your dry dog and cat food and even nuts, candies and dried fruit. These bugs do not like light and will move away when a container is opened. They multiply rapidly so you may see a large number of them.


Flour moths are one of the most common pantry pests in Missouri. The damage of the food is actually done by the caterpillars and not the mature moth. The caterpillar is only about one-half inch long and can be off-white, greenish or pinkish. They leave a “thread” trail along anything they move over which forms webs across the infested food.


To get rid of these unwanted bugs. Remove all food from your shelves sealing any infested food in an airtight bag before discarding. Use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean shelves. It is especially important to use the vacuum cleaner because these bugs like to get in tiny cracks and crevices in your pantry. Make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag in another airtight container so the bugs don’t come back.


Some tips to protect your kitchen from pantry pests includes buying only small portions of grain foods if you don’t use them that often, store susceptible foods in airtight containers, don’t buy opened or crushed packages as they are more likely to be contaminated and remove all food from your food storage area once per year for a thorough cleaning.




Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009




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