What are Stored Product Pests?

How to avoid an infestation

No one likes finding pests in their home. People especially don’t like pests that take over their pantry. If you’ve ever found yourself opening a box of cereal only to be greeted by hungry critters crawling around in it, then you know exactly what we mean. Stored product pests love finding their way into open containers in your pantry and feed on everything from cornmeal to spices to dog food. The first step in protecting yourself from an infestation is knowing what types of stored product pests are common and what they seek out. Here’s a deeper dive into what to look out for in your pantry.

Indian Meal Moth

As one of the most common stored product pests, the Indian meal moth feeds on a variety of things found in your pantry. It got its name from the scientist who discovered it feeding on corn meal, which at the time, was also known as Indian meal. These pests love grains, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate, candy, dog food, and more staples sitting on your pantry shelves. Adult moths measure from five-eighths of an inch to three-fourths of an inch long from wing to tip at maturity. They are reddish-brown in color and attracted to light so they are often found in grocery stores, however, they can also be a nuisance at home. These pests can contaminate any food product they’ve been in contact with. All dried food should be inspected for signs of infestation. If you see one flying around your home, you likely already have a problem. Discard any food with signs of infestation, clean your cupboards thoroughly including vacuuming, and store all unbothered food in sealed containers.

Merchant Grain Beetle

The merchant grain beetle does not traditionally feed on grains, despite what the name might imply. Instead, they like to focus on the sweeter things in life like cake mixes, cereals, cookies, and chocolate. Its body shape allows it to easily crawl into packaging, feed, and procreate. This flat, brown beetle usually measures ⅛ of an inch long and features six saw-like teeth on each side of its body. Once in your food, a female merchant grain beetle can lay nearly 300 eggs in one or several quick batches. These larvae then move throughout the food as they feed and grow. The entire life cycle can take up to 50 days and female beetles can produce several generations in the eight to 10 months of their lives, which means a merchant grain beetle infestation can become a big problem quickly. The increased population makes them seek out more food which, in turn, means they’ll infest more products the larger the infestation gets. Merchant grain beetles can also fly, so if you see any buzzing around your home, you have a problem.

Other Stored Product Pests

Beetles, moths, and mites can all wreak havoc in your pantry. In addition to the most common stored product pests we’ve covered, there are a range of other creepy crawlers that can chow down on your food. Some pests like the rice weevil and the Angoumois grain moth feed inside of whole kernels like that of dried corn or other whole grains. Here is where they live in the larva stage and develop from egg to adult in under a month to six weeks. With the Angoumois moth, you’ll notice it flying around after it has reached maturity and emerged from its kernel.

Beetles beyond the merchant grain beetle can cause issues as well. Depending on the type, they can feed on a variety of items in and around your home. As an example, the flour beetle tends to stick to processed grains, dog food, dried fruits, and more. Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles focus on household foods, spices, and leather products. Cigarette beetles love paprika while drugstore beetles prefer red pepper, breakfast foods, bread, and flour.

How to Protect Your Home

Since stored product pests love sneaking into open containers or commercial packaging, one of the most effective ways at protecting your pantry from an infestation is to store your dry goods in sealed containers. Yes, this means you have permission to create a Pintrest-ready pantry with beautiful clear containers arranged by height or contents. You’ll love the look of your new pantry and ward off potential infestations! However, simply placing products from cardboard or paper containers into strong plastic or glass should suffice. Good sanitation and hygiene are also key in preventing pest infestations. Always try to consume foods oldest to newest so nothing is left sitting in your pantry too long. Also, you can store cereals and grains in the refrigerator to be extra cautious.

If you do find yourself with a stored product pest problem, it’s best to call in the professionals at Impact Pest Elimination immediately. Once you’ve made the call, dispose of the infested materials in an outside trash bin. Inspect everything in your pantry for additional infestation issues. Wait until after Impact’s professionals give you the go to clear out all the shelves, vacuum them, and wipe them down with soap and water. While you may be tempted to do so right away, the service specialist at Impact will need to first identify the pest so that the correct program and frequency can be recommended for eradication.