|University of Kentucky Entomology|
STORED PRODUCT PESTS IN THE PANTRY
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Stored product or pantry pests include several beetles, moths, and a mite that can infest whole grains or processed foods. Usually, the first sign of a problem is the appearance of small beetles crawling over counter tops, moths flying across rooms, or caterpillars crawling up walls or across ceilings. The solution requires finding and destroying all infested products in which these pests have developed, a general cleanup, and use of sealed storage containers to prevent recurring problems.
Some stored product pests feed inside whole kernels. These include the granary weevil, rice weevil, and the Angoumois grain moth.
The larval stage is a legless grub that develops inside kernels of wheat or corn, or other whole grains or caked materials. Development from egg to adult takes as little as 1 month.
A much larger number of insects feed on processed grains or broken kernels, or a variety of spices. Common pests include the red and confused flour beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles, drugstore beetle, cigarette beetle and Indian meal moth.
Flour beetles and the sawtoothed grain beetle cannot attack whole or undamaged grains but will feed on a wide variety of processed grains (flour, meal), as well as dried fruits, dry dog food, dried meats, candy bars, drugs, tobacco, and a variety of other products. The life cycle of the flour beetles takes about 7 weeks. Adult females can live for several months to more than a year. Confused flour beetles fly and are attracted to lights; red flour beetles crawl toward light but apparently do not fly. Sawtoothed grain beetles neither fly nor are they attracted to light.
They can feed in dried fruits, powdered milk, chocolate, flour, meal, dried dog food, bird seed and a variety of food stuffs. They prefer coarse flours and corn meal.
While adults are the signs of an infestation, merely killing them is not the solution. Infested articles must be found and destroyed. Identification of the pest can provide clues on where to look but some of these insects can live on a wide range of materials.
In general, the greater the number of insects seen, the older the infestation. Often the initial source is partially used boxes or bags of products that have been forgotten in the backs of pantries and shelves. The infestation spreads as the active adults search for new food sources. A thorough search is needed to locate all infested items. If they are not found in pantries or cupboards, then begin to look at such things as decorative items or bird seed.
Disposal of infested materials is the best way to eliminate the problem. Also check all items in pantries or on shelves. Often beetles can be found beneath cans and other items. Thoroughly vacuum the shelves, both upper and lower surfaces, and use a crevice attachment to clean cracks and crevices. It is better to do a very thorough job one time than to have to repeat a hasty inspection and cleanup.
After treatment, good sanitation and proper storage are keys to preventing future problems. Place products from cardboard, paper, or plastic containers into jars or other containers that can be sealed tightly. Decorative items such as indian corn, dried flower arrangements, or bird feed may be treated with heat (155oF for about 20 minutes with the oven door propped open) or in a non-self- defrosting freezer at 0oF for 4 days.
CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.
Of course, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE!
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