Table of Contents
Pantry Pest – What Is It?
- Pantry pests belong to a group of insects deemed “stored product pests.” As their name entails, these insects ingest non-refrigerated processed food stored in pantries, cubbyholes, and cabinets
- Dried pasta, pet food, fruit, cereal, and nuts make up the pantry pest’s diet
- Most common pantry pest sightings in Houston – saw-toothed grain and cigarette beetles and the Indian meal moth – all of which are reportedly found indoors where processed food is stored
- Following home infiltration, pantry pests immediately begin foraging for food. Pests falling within this classification are oftentimes described by experts as “prolific breeders”
- Pantry pests do not discriminate, all homes, regardless of cleanliness or dirtiness are targeted
Most Notable Pantry Pest Characteristics – Indian Meal Moth, Saw-Toothed Grain Beetle, and Cigarette Beetle
Indian Meal Moth Species
- Plodia interpunctella, better known in Houston communities as the Indian meal moth, have multiple colors down the span of their wings. The top or smallest layer is reddish/brown, followed by tan, and copper with a bit of black. In the direct sunlight, the swings take on a lustrous metallic-like tone. The wings are the insect’s largest feature, measuring about ¾ of an inch in length and 5/8” when spread completely out
- Scientists believe adult Indian meal moths are only partly responsible for the damage reported by victims. They contribute the majority of the damage to the larvae
- To avoid capture, these pests will access the highest point in a home, which is most often the ceiling. They spend hours spinning cocoons for their egg deposits
Saw-Toothed Grain Beetle Species
- Oryzaephilus surinamensis, better known among Houston residents as the saw-toothed grain beetle. The adult grows up to one-tenth of an inch in length. The species most unique characteristic is its tooth projections, which are utilized as a defense mechanism against predators and for food-foraging
- The damage left behind by these insects can be contributed to both the adult male and female, as well as the larvae
- Flour, cookies, dried fruit and cereal, candy, birdseed, whole grain, and pasta make up the diet
Cigarette Beetle Species
- Lasioderma serricorne, better known as the cigarette beetle, grows up to one-eighth of an inch in length. The species’ most unique visible characteristic is its hump-back. Another vital characteristic for identification purposes is the hairy body, described by many people as “fuzzy”
- Spices (paprika, chili powder, and black pepper), smokeless and smoking tobacco, flour, cakes, cookies, whole grains, and bananas make up the diet
Why Was My Home Invaded By Pantry Pests?
- Many pantry pest species are what scientists have deemed an “overwintering pest.” This group of insects invades buildings beginning in late fall to avoid the harsh winter outdoors. Pantry pest infiltration generally begins with an exterior-to-interior access point
- Only one adult pregnant female is enough to develop a full-blown pantry pest infestation. Unlike some insect species, the pantry pest does reproduce indoors
- These prolific breeders need endless food and water sources to do what they do best, reproduce
How Do I Know If My Home Is Infested With Pantry Pest?
- Visual signs, such as damaged food packages, life insects foraging for food, and contaminated food scattered about
- Swarming insects flying above stored food, vulnerable food containers, and food-contaminated countertops, dining table surfaces, and flooring
Should I Be Concerned About My Children And Elderly Parents?
- Pantry pests are not disease-carrying insect species. However, scientists have linked pantry pests to foodborne illnesses like salmonella, E. coli, and Shigella.
- Pantry pests are more of a nuisance insect species than a threat to young children and elderly adults
- Ingesting food contaminated with the cigarette and saw-toothed grain beetle and Indian meal moth eggs and larvae does not always an emergency room visit. However, there should be some concern of foodborne illness related to the contaminated food
How Can I Protect My Home And Family From Pantry Pest Infestations?
- Develop an effective secure storage system for non-refrigerated food items, utilizing sealed containers constructed from durable plastic and glass
- Develop a realistic cleaning schedule, targeting your entire kitchen and other areas of the home where meals are served
- Develop a safe and effective food waste system. Include regular trips to the outdoor waste bin to dispose of unused, potentially contaminated food products
- Develop a food-testing strategy to determine if specific containers have been infiltrated
- Develop a routine or habit of destroying outdated, unused, and contaminated food and cleaning containers before and after each refill
What Are The Most Vital Steps Of A Pantry Pest Management Strategy?
The most crucial first step of a pest management strategy targeting pantry pests is a thorough visual inspection. This is a long, drawn-out process that can take up three hours or longer to complete. The second most vital step involves pantry pest depopulation. This is a strategic process that must be completed by a licensed exterminator or certified pantry pest technician.
There are no guarantees, DIY pest control will fully eradicate a pantry pest infestation. However, if you believe it to be your best option, please feel free to take advantage of the expert tips provided in the content below.
- Carefully dispose of unused, unwanted, outdated, and potentially contaminated stored food products. Place them in a sealed plastic bag before transporting them to the outdoor waste bin.
- Thoroughly clean storage areas at least bi-monthly utilizing a vacuum cleaner, gentle cleanser, and tap water. To avoid further contamination, it is recommended to replace the vacuum cleaner bag after each use. If food particles are contaminated with pantry pest eggs or larvae, they will be entrapped inside the vacuum cleaner bag
- Wash food containers down periodically and before and after each use
When Will The Exterminator Have Time To Conduct My Pantry Pest Inspection?
Our exterminators believe in giving back to their communities by providing Houston residents with top-notch pest control services. In addition to accessibility, the team ensures a speedy response to service requests. In most cases, a licensed exterminator will be available to conduct the pest inspection within 24 to 48 hours of the initial service request.
Do I Need Specialized Equipment Or Tools To Prevent Future Pantry Pest Infestations?
No, but you will need to possess patience, dedication, time, and the full cooperation of every household member. To stave off a pantry pest infestation in the future, your family’s support is a necessity. And, we will be there every step of the way. We will work with you to develop an effective pest management strategy, targeting the vulnerabilities in your home’s pest barrier and food storage and waste systems.