Don’t Let Pests Make Themselves at Home in Your Pantry This Season
You never know when a bag of your favorite self-rising flour or cornbread mix will include a hidden helping of pests. Even the most respected brands cannot produce pest-free products all of the time. When the efforts of commercial processors fail, a nightmare begins for unsuspecting customers. Here are a few pests that could be lurking in your pantry.
Sawtoothed grain beetles and confused flour beetles are common pests in homes and food processing facilities. These tiny beetles can infest products after harvest, during storage or while sitting on shelves in your local store. Drugstore beetles, cigarette beetles and weevils also cause problems. Most of these beetles measure less than one-tenth of an inch long, so they can go undetected until the infestation has spread.
While some entomologists say that Indian meal moths are a handsome species, they are nothing but trouble. These pests may fly around your kitchen at night and swarm out of your cabinets. Their wingspan measures up to three-quarters of an inch wide. You’ll recognize them by their dark wing tips and distinctive copper and gray markings.
Atlanta is home to a growing variety of ants, including some invasive aliens. Argentine ants and Caribbean crazy ants are two tenacious newcomers. Pharaoh ants, also called sugar ants, frequently invade pantries and food items. Unfortunately, ants are notoriously difficult to control. Pantry pest control is challenging because the use of pesticides near food is problematic.
All of these pests are insects, so they follow the same life cycle of transforming from eggs to larvae, pupae and adults. Eggs are laid in grains, spices and vegetable materials. The newly hatched larvae are the most destructive. However, adults are seen more often. All of these pantry pests can infest grain, flour, cereal, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, pasta, rice, herbs and spices. Birdseed and pet food can also harbor these pests.
Controlling Pantry Pests
Infestations spread quickly because adults deposit eggs in multiple food packages. Even unopened items can be infected. It’s important to inspect all stored items and to remove contaminated products. Pantry pests multiply quickly in warm temperatures, but they are active all year. After the initial sweep, follow-ups are necessary to make sure that all of the eggs and larvae have been removed. Otherwise, the problem can return in several months or up to a year later.
Don’t Let Pests Make Themselves at Home in Your Pantry This Season.