Pantry Pests

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

If you have ever had bugs in the cornmeal and flour in your kitchen, you know how aggravating they can be. Pantry pests are moths or beetles whose larvae feed largely on dried plant products. A few feed on dried animal products. Most of the adults can fly, but damaging larvae (worms or grubs) cannot.
If you have an infestation, check all stored products for adult or larval insects, or for webbing made by caterpillars (moth larvae). Open everything in the general area where you see the insects. Discard infested material and place the remainder in metal or plastic containers with tight- fitting lids. If you see the pests in other areas besides the kitchen, you may be puzzled.
Think about other products that you may have that they may infest, such as bird seed or dog or cat food. Check to see if those products are infested, and discard the product if they are infested. Vacuum thoroughly in all cracks and crevices near the infested area, whether it be the kitchen or the pantry. Throw away the vacuum cleaner bag after you vacuum. If this does not take care of your problem, and you are interested in applying a pesticide to hard-to-clean edges and crevices, you can call our office for recommendations of approved pesticides.
Previously unopened packages may be infested, since the products may be infested when you purchase them in the grocery store. If you see small moths around the flour and meal in the grocery store, you may not want to purchase the products in that store. When you purchase flour and meal, you could put them in the freezer for a week or two to kill unseen eggs or small larvae before putting them in air-tight containers. If convenient, store susceptible materials in a refrigerator.

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences