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Learn about Pantry Beetles

Have you ever opened a bag of flour, only to have tiny moths fly out? Or discovered a bag of cornmeal or masa crawling with tiny beetles or worms? Unfortunately, you unknowingly have brought pantry beetles into your kitchen. While these insects can sometimes fly in from outdoors, usually, they were already in a bag of dry food you purchased.

Pantry beetles lay their eggs in flour, cornmeal, cereal, rice, bags of pet food, and other dry goods. These beetles likely found their way into your kitchen as eggs inside a bag of some type of grain-based food. While sitting in your pantry, the eggs hatched. Unfortunately, these bugs can crawl all over your pantry, and once a pantry beetle infestation takes hold, they can be very hard to get rid of.

While most pantry beetles are not known to spread disease, they contaminate your food with their feces and dead body parts, making it inedible.

Different Types of Pantry Beetles

There are several different types of insects that are classified as “pantry beetles.” These common beetles can be found in boxes of cereal, dry pet food, cookies, nuts, candy, dried beans, peas and lentils, pasta, chips, crackers, and spices.

  • Red Flour Beetle
  • Confused Flour Beetle
  • Drugstore Beetle
  • Cigarette Beetle
  • Merchant Grain Beetle
  • Sawtooth Beetle

Weevils are less likely to feed on processed grains and cereals, preferring whole grains, such as rice, and seeds. These include:

  • Lesser Grain Borer
  • Granary Weevil
  • Bean Weevil
  • Rice Weevils

Fabric and carpet beetles, that usually feed on wool, leather, and silk, can also find their way into your food. These include:

  • Black Carpet Beetle
  • Furniture Carpet Beetle

It can be difficult to tell the difference between the different varieties of pantry pests, but a pest control professional can help to positively identify the beetles or weevils in your kitchen.

What to Do if You Discover Pantry Beetles

Unfortunately, you’ll very likely have to throw away all infested, and potentially infested food. That includes any boxes of cereal, cookies, crackers, pet food, etc, that were stored in the same cupboard.

You’ll also need to store your newly purchased dry goods and grain-based food in tightly sealed plastic, metal or glass containers. To save a little money, you can save your coffee cans and glass jars for this purpose.

Do not spray your food pantry and cabinets with insecticides! Bug sprays are not only deadly to bugs, but they are also toxic to people and pets. Instead, call a pest control professional.

Different types of pantry beetles require different treatments. Accurate identification of the beetle is essential to successfully control your pantry beetle problem. Identifying the exact species of beetle or weevil will help the technician choose the right equipment and products to get the problem under control. Before you throw anything away, save a sample of the pantry beetles and the food you found them in for your pest control technician to identify.

Preventing a Future Infestation of Pantry Beetles

The first line of defense is to keep your foodstuff separated and stored in tightly sealed plastic, glass, or metal containers. Second, keep your cabinets clean of spilled flour, cornmeal, masa, cereal, pet food, and crumbs.

Before you bring any bagged or boxed food home, examine the packaging. This is especially true if you are shopping at a discount store or food bank. If you see any tiny holes in the packaging, or evidence of insects, don’t buy it.

If you discover pantry beetles, don’t waste any time, call a professional pest control service. The problem will only get worse before it gets better.

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