Stored Food Pests

moth-larvae
mothThe Indianmeal Moth and to a lesser degree, the Mediterranean Flour Moth are the most common of our local stored food pests. The adult moths are about a quarter inch long and are usually a gray – brown color, although the wings of
some species are two toned with a metallic appearance on the wingtips. Adult moths cannot chew but the larvae can contaminate many types of food that we have stored in our pantry. You will find the larvae in nuts, grain products, wall hangings, bird seed, pet food, cereals, and sometimes in sealed containers fresh from the grocery store! The larvae leave a web behind them that looks a lot like spider webs and spiders like to locate near an infestation to pick off moths and larvae.

rice-weevilsaw-toothed-grain-beetleOther stored food pests are Beetles and weevils that normally appear in grain products and spices. The Rice Weevil pictured on the left came from a package of stored rice in a Sabre Springs residence. The Saw Toothed Grain Beetle (right) is often found in corn meal, nuts, grain, and stored pasta. Its elongated carapace has saw like ridges that give it a distinctive appearance. Kind of like a long headed beetle. The Cigarette Beetle (pictured) and the Drug Store Beetle are very similar in appearance and are sometimes found in 
cigarette-beetlespices and stored foods; I have often found them in art projects that are made from beans and grain that our children sometimes bring red-flour-beetlehome from class. If you keep the pet food in the garage in an
unsealed container or bird seed on a shelf next to the door, you can expect to eventually see some of the above pests or another pair
of look-alikes, the Confused Flour Beetle and the Red Flour Beetle (pictured).

Control measures are the same for all of them … even the moths!

Control: Clean out the cabinets and toss the contaminated food. Don’t worry about the adult bugs; they are just hanging around for social purposes and can be controlled with a vacuum cleaner. Find the contaminated food and get rid of it! Clean the shelves and drawers with any disinfectant cleaner and
then …

containersPrevention: Keep your stored food in air tight containers. Do not place too much confidence in cereal boxes or the other containers that the food was in when it was purchased. You brought those bugs home from the store in the first place in packaged containers. What you need is Tupperware or the equivalent and you should inspect and rotate your stored foods regularly. Be especially careful with things like cornmeal, bread crumbs, croutons, crackers, bran flakes, granola, and cold cereal.  The boxes and bags that many grain products come in are not sufficient to keep bugs out.

You can use the freezer to control bugs in bird seed and other pet foods; it doesn’t bother the animals at all to have a little extra protein in their diet. I have seen birds picking out the moth larvae as special delicacies! Meal and flour moth caterpillars can chew their way into and out of cardboard boxes and thin polythene bags. Always keep stored materials in tight-fitting containers, preferably of glass, metal or tough plastic with a vapor tight seal. If an infestation should occur under these conditions (possibly introduced with newly purchased goods), it can be confined to a single jar or container and is easily eradicated by discarding the contents. Glass jars should have rubber seals, and metal or plastic containers should have tight-fitting lids. Tupperware has double seal lids on most of their containers, and some of the Rubbermaid products are good also. You should avoid the light plastic containers that do not lock in food vapors and do not rely on plastic bags for pantry pest control.

pesticide-spraysPinpoint Pest Control Co. Inc does not recommend the use of pesticide sprays for pantry pest control. You cannot control the adult bugs without getting rid of the source of the infestation, and if that and the sanitation measures are taken care of there is no need for further action. See our page on Cockroaches also.