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How to get rid of pantry pests

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Home > Blog >  How to get rid of pantry pests

Have you ever opened your pantry, reached for your favorite box of cereal, and noticed tiny teeth marks on it? Have you ever seen ants crawling on the floor and lining up to access the container of oatmeal you left slightly ajar?

If you’ve ever dealt with pantry pests, you know how irritating and nauseating they can be. This guide outlines some of the most common pantry pests (and signs that you’re dealing with them) and breaks down a series of steps you can take to eliminate them for good.

weevils on rice

Common pantry pests

All kinds of creepy, crawly creatures can find their way into your pantry. The following are some of the most common pantry pests you might encounter:

Weevils

Weevils are tiny insects (about ¼ of an inch long) that feast on flour, cereal, rice, and other grains. Three types of weevils can show up in your pantry: Granary weevils, maize weevils, and rice weevils.

Adult weevils have long, skinny heads and elongated snouts. Babies, on the other hand, are small, pale grubs with no legs.

Rice weevils have four reddish-brown spots on their backs. They can also fly.

Maize weevils look similar to rice weevils, but they’re slightly larger and darker. They can fly like rice weevils, but they grow more slowly.

Granary weevils are rounder, bigger, and darker than maize and rice weevils. They can’t fly and only live for a few weeks.

Weevil larvae often appear in improperly sealed food. You may also see adult weevils crawling around in your pantry and leaving droppings (which resemble black pepper fragments) behind.

Grain beetles

Grain beetles are tiny, about ¾ of an inch long. They have brown, flat bodies split into three sections with a longer rear. Their bodies also have faint, textured lines running down them.

Grain beetles are so small that they’re easy to miss. Their larvae and eggs are even tinier and more elusive.

If grain beetles have taken up residence in your pantry, your food will start to change temperature and get warmer. You may also see them crawling around in your food or find holds in packaging that they’ve chewed through.

Indian meal moths

Indian meal moths are the most common moths that may reside in your pantry. Adults are cream-colored, whereas their larvae are light-colored with dark brown heads.

When Indian meal moths lay eggs in your food, they use sticky webbing to bind them together. The webbing also sticks to your food and forms clumps. These clumps are the easiest way to spot an Indian meal moth problem. 

Cockroaches

Most people can agree that cockroaches are the most unsettling pests to find in your pantry (or anywhere in your home). They often eat rotten or spoiled food, as well as trash, and can contaminate your food and drinks.

Common signs of cockroaches in the pantry include droppings, egg cases, and smear marks. You might also notice chew marks on cardboard boxes or other types of packaging.

Spiders

Spiders can show up anywhere in your home, but they’re often drawn to pantries -- especially pantries that haven’t been cleaned in a while.

Spiders might not feast on your food directly, but they do dine on other creatures that might reside in the pantry.

Flies, moths, and ants are all food for spiders. If you see them crawling in the pantry, that could be a sign you have other pests living there as well. You might also notice their webs along the pantry shelves.

Ants

If food gets spilled in your pantry or crumbs are left behind, you’re basically creating an inviting environment for ants. You’ll likely see them crawling on the pantry floor or on the pantry shelves to get to the nearest food source.

Mealworms

Mealworms are tiny yellow caterpillars that love to feast on damp, moldy food.

If you’ve let something sit in your pantry for too long -- especially if you haven’t sealed the container properly -- mealworms might move in. You’ll often see them in bags of flour or other grain containers.

Rodents 

In addition to these insects and arachnids that might appear in your pantry, you could also deal with larger pests like mice or rats.

Rodents may chew through cardboard boxes to get to your food, leaving their teeth marks and droppings behind. You might also notice smear marks from their bodies rubbing against the shelves, walls, or baseboards of your pantry.

How to get rid of pantry pests

If you’ve spotted signs of pantry pests, it’s time to take action. This problem isn’t one that’ll resolve itself. If you leave it alone, it’ll only get worse.

Here are some tips to eliminate pantry pests as quickly as possible:

Empty the pantry

The only way out of a pest infestation is through. In most cases, that means taking everything out of the pantry so you can see the severity of the problem. Wear gloves during this step to avoid coming in contact with any pests or pest waste.

Toss out contaminated food

Check the expiration date of every item in the pantry. Throw away anything that is expired. If you notice any damaged containers, toss those out as well.

Vacuum and clean thoroughly

When you’ve sorted through your food and tossed out anything that has been contaminated (or could draw in new pests), vacuum and wipe down the shelves thoroughly. Leave no corner, nook, or cranny untouched. The more fastidious you can be, the less likely you are to deal with an ongoing problem. 

Call a pest control professional

If you’re still worried about pests after doing an in-depth pantry cleanout, call a pest control professional. 

Technicians can evaluate your entire home, including the pantry, to identify signs of pests and locate all the places they may have settled. They’ll then use expert methods to eliminate those pests for good.

How to prevent pantry pests

Once you’ve dealt with pantry pests, from weevils to roaches, you never want to face them again. These tips can help you prevent them from returning:

Check expiration dates regularly

If you leave a bunch of expired food in your pantry, you’ll be more likely to attract pests. 

Organize your pantry so that expiration dates are easily visible. Check packages regularly to identify expired items, too.

This process might seem tedious at first. It’ll pay off in the long term, though.

Clean up crumbs and spills right away

It might be tempting to leave crumbs or spills for another day. Whenever you do this, though, you’re inviting pests to enter your pantry and feast on the leftovers.

Establish a rule in your home that spills and other messes get cleaned up right away. Leave cleaning supplies close to the pantry to make this as easy as possible.

Use airtight containers

Consider swapping the cardboard boxes and paper bags that your food comes in for plastic or glass containers with airtight lids. These containers will do a better job of preserving your food, and they’ll help to keep pests out more effectively than cardboard or paper.   

Don’t buy food in damaged packages

If you notice cardboard boxes or paper bags are damaged, don’t buy them. Scrutinize items before you put them in your shopping cart.

Not only will this help you keep your pantry pest-free, but it’ll also save you from accidental spills in your trunk on the way home.

Inspect dried food before use

Always inspect dried food before pouring it into a bowl or adding it to a recipe. Pay special attention to foods like flour, sugar, oatmeal, cereal, and other grains.

If anything looks off, don’t eat it or use it (it’s better to be safe than sorry). Throw it away and start over fresh.

Use bay leaves

If you’re looking for a natural way to keep pests at bay, consider adding bay leaves to your dried food. A single bay leaf in your flour, rice, and other grains will deter pests because of its strong smell.

Invest in maintenance treatments

Many pest control professionals offer maintenance treatments to help you prevent future infestations. They will treat your home for the pests that cause the most problems and look for common signs of pests.

Ongoing treatments are efficient and cost-effective. They also save you from having to deal with a major pest problem later.

Get rid of pantry pests today

Whether you’re currently facing a pantry pest problem or want to know how to prevent one from happening, the tips and tricks discussed in this guide can help. Keep them in mind to ensure your home stays safe, clean, and pest-free.

Do you need help getting rid of pantry pests (or any other type of pest, such as mosquitos or termites)? If so, Natran Green Pest Control has got your back.
Reach out today to learn more about our clean, eco-friendly services or schedule a free inspection.

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Fast, effective results for your pest problems.
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