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The Types of Pests That Invade Your Kitchen and How To Prevent An Infestation

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Home > Blog >  The Types of Pests That Invade Your Kitchen and How To Prevent An Infestation

What Types of Pests Will Infest Your Kitchen?

1. Stored Food Pests

What Are Stored Food Pests?

Also known as pantry pests, stored food pests are any type of infesting pest that you might find in your pantry and food containers or packaging in your kitchen. These pests are primarily found in food sources, but can be found in places other than stored food, such as dried flower arrangements. Some of the different stored food sources where you can find find these pests include flour, cake mix, rice, pasta, granola and bird seed. In Houston, there are a few different types of commonly found stored food pests like the cigarette beetle, the confused flour beetle, the saw toothed grain beetle and the Indian meal moth. Read below to learn more about each of these pantry pests and how to prevent or rid your kitchen of an infestation.

The Cigarette Beetle

Cigarette beetles are tiny oval shaped beetles that on average will only grow up to approximately one tenth of an inch in length. This particular type of pantry pest ranges from yellowish brown to reddish brown in color with jagged antennae. The cigarette beetle also has wings and is known to be a decently strong flier. Because their heads are situated at a downward angle, cigarette beetles have a humpback appearance. The larvae of this beetle look similar to worms in appearance, are ivory in color and are smaller than the adult cigarette beetle.

Cigarette beetles are named for their inclination to infest stored tobacco products. However, tobacco is not the only stored item that the cigarette beetle will infest. These pantry pests will also invade stored foods and spices such as paprika, dried beans, dry dog food, dried fruits and vegetables, peanuts, rice, dried herbs, grains and yeast. Cigarette beetles will also infest other non-food items including dried flowers and even the stuffing in your furniture. 

Cigarette beetles do not carry pathogens, therefore do not pose an immediate health risk to you or your family. These beetles do not sting or bite and are mostly considered to be nuisance pests. The biggest threat cigarette beetles pose is to your household items including stored food, books, book bindings, wreaths and other objects. If you spot adult cigarette beetles in your home or notice that the food packaging in your pantry contains holes, you might be facing a cigarette beetle infestation.

The Confused Flour Beetle

The confused flour beetle is another pest that will infest the stored food items in your pantry. These beetles are reddish brown in color and have flat, oblong bodies. Confused flour beetles have wings and will only grow to be about one-eighth of an inch long. The confused flour beetle is named for the common confusion surrounding its identification, as it looks identical to the red flour beetle and is often confused for such. The biggest difference between the red flour beetle and the confused flour beetle is that the red flour beetle can fly and although the confused flour beetle has wings, it is unable to fly. The confused flour beetle is usually found in food packages containing processed grains such as cereals, as well as nuts and spices. If a stored food item is heavily infested with confused flour beetles, the food will often become gray in color and develop a foul odor. Like the cigarette beetle, confused flour beetles do not sting, bite or carry pathogens. This means that these beetles do no pose a severe health threat to your family and the damages they cause are limited to the food items they infest.

The Saw Toothed Grain Beetle

Saw toothed grain beetles are named for the six saw like protrusions coming from the body segment located directly behind their heads. These beetles have a flat, brown body, will reach about one-tenth to one-eighth of an inch in length as adults and cannot fly.

This particular stored food pest is found in a wide variety of food items including cereals, bread, grains, pasta, dried meats, dried fruits, nuts, tobacco products, sugar and candy. The most obvious sign of a saw toothed grain beetle infestation is finding live adult beetles in your pantry or kitchen. Finding holes in the food packaging in your pantry is another sign that you could be dealing with a saw toothed grain beetle infestation.

Fortunately, saw toothed grain beetles are not known to carry any pathogens or transmit diseases and pose no true health risk to humans or pets. Like the rest of the aforementioned pantry pests, the most damage the saw toothed grain beetle will cause in your home is to your stored food items. However, one side affect of a saw toothed grain beetle infestation is that their habits can create conditions that are conducive to mold growth. If you find that you have a saw toothed beetle infestation in your pantry, you might want to also inspect for mold.

The Indian Meal Moth

Indian meal moths are small insects measuring approximately three-eights of an inch long. These moths have a long, oval shaped body with wings that are grey and dark brown in color. Indian meal moths will fly in a distinctive zig zag pattern, so if you see live moths in your pantry, this is one way to identify whether or not the moths are of the Indian meal moth variety. The larvae of these particular pantry pests are cream colored and can have a yellow or pink tint to their bodies with a dark brown head.

Instead of finding their way into your home to infest your stored food, Indian meal moths will usually end up in your pantry through products purchased at the grocery store that are already infested with Indian meal moth larvae. After these larvae have entered your home, they will then begin to invade other food sources in your pantry and a full blown infestation can then occur. Although it is uncommon, adult Indian meal moths can enter your home by flying through gaps around windows or doors, find a food source in your pantry, lay their eggs and start an infestation in that way.

Indian meal moths have earned their title of stored food pest because they prefer to eat food products that are generally stored in home pantries, such as dried fruits, pasta, bread, rice, nuts, dry dog food, bird seed, dried peppers, chocolate, powdered milk and grains. These moths will also dine on dried flowers in your home. Indian meal moths are known for feeding on a wide variety of foods and also their ability to make their way into even tightly sealed containers. These two factors make the Indian meal moth especially problematic. If you see a live adult Indian meal moth in your kitchen, this could be a sign that you are in the midst of an infestation. However, these adult Indian meal moths are not the largest culprit during an infestation in your pantry. The Indian meal moth larvae will usually do the most damage to your stored foods. After an Indian meal moth lays her eggs in a stored food source like pasta, flour or rice, the larvae will then hatch from the egg, drape the food in a web and begin to feast. 

As with the rest of the aforementioned stored food pests, Indian meal moths do not pose a true health risk to your family. These moths do not carry pathogens and cannot bite or sting you. The biggest threat you will face when dealing with an Indian meal moth infestation is to your food. Because these moths will leave behind webs, feces and shed skins after infesting a food source, it is imperative that any foods in which Indian meal moths have been found are thrown out. 

Controlling and Preventing Stored Food Pests

Once it has been established that stored food pests have infested your pantry, there are a few steps you can take to address these pantry invaders. First, find all infested items and throw them away. Then, inspect the rest of the stored food and food packaging in your pantry to ensure that you have not missed any infested areas. Next, clean your pantry thoroughly by vacuuming and wiping down each shelf with soapy water.

After you have cleared out all items which contained store food pests, you can take future precautions to ensure that these pantry pests do not return. Regularly rotating your stored food items and dry goods can prevent future stored food pest infestations. Additionally, storing your dry food items in sealed plastic or glass containers instead of their original packaging can help to decrease the likelihood that these pantry pests will return. This is because these pests cannot penetrate sealed glass or plastic containers in the way they are able to eat through paper or soft plastic packaging. Finally, make sure to regularly wipe down your pantry shelves, remove crumbs or food debris and check for any pantry pests in your stored food.

2. Rodents

Rodents are another type of infesting pest that can be found in your pantry or kitchen. Mice and rats in your kitchen can be more problematic than stored food pests and can pose a true health risk to you and your family. These furry pests will usually make their way into your kitchen through holes or gaps in your floors, walls, windows or ceilings. In some cases, rodents can gain entry into your home through drains and vents. 

After rodents have settled into your kitchen, they are then able to spread bacteria and pathogens throughout the infested area. The most likely way for humans to become exposed to these germs is through contact with rodent feces, urine, saliva and rodent bites. However, rodent droppings are particularly risky for humans and are usually a sign that there is not just one rodent in your home, but many rodents. If you do happen to spot rodent droppings in your kitchen, it is time to take action to control your infestation.

Controlling and Preventing A Rodent Infestation In Your Kitchen

Prevention is key when dealing with a rodent infestation, as once it is established that your home is infested with rats or mice, it is usually best left to professionals to control these invaders. Read below to learn some steps you can take to help prevent a rodent infestation in your kitchen.

1. Always clean up immediately after meal times. Make a habit of hand washing or placing all used dishes in the dishwasher, wipe down your dining table and counter tops and sweep any crumbs that may have fallen on the floor. It is also helpful to store any leftovers in airtight containers. These precautions help to ensure that rodents will not be attracted to your kitchen by dirty dishes or leftover food scraps.

2. Make a habit of storing more of your food in the refrigerator. Because your refrigerator is sealed airtight, rodents cannot infiltrate this area in your kitchen. As an added bonus, some foods will even stay edible longer when stored in your refrigerator, including cereal, potatoes and dried fruit.

3. If you are worried about rodent infestations, it is best to store dry foods in metal or glass containers with lids that screw on. Many mice and rats are able to chew through plastic, so it is necessary to use more durable storage containers when trying to keep rodents at bay.

4. Inspect your kitchen for any cracks in piping under the sink. If you do find cracks that might be large enough to accommodate a mouse or rat, seal the cracks with foam or caulk. It is important to note that mice can sneak through a hole as small as the diameter of a pencil. You can also use caulk to seal any cracks around other areas of your home to block potential entry points for rats and mice.

5. Mice and rats are attracted to the food scraps in your trash can, so make sure to take out your garbage on a regular basis.

6. Inspect your cabinets regularly for spilled food and make sure to keep them clean and free of any loose food debris. You should also look for any signs of a pest infestation when inspecting your cabinets, such as feces or dead bugs.

7. Store your pet’s food in a metal container with a lid and do not leave pet food out overnight.

We hope that with this knowledge, you are able to keep a pest free kitchen. However in the case that you do find yourself facing a rodent infestation, Natran Green Pest Control is here to help! Schedule your free inspection with Natran Green Pest Control today at https://natran.com/quote/.

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