Common Kitchen Pests: Pantry Pests 101
Although you could certainly spot an unsavory pest in your kitchen at any time of year, the winter season’s colder months often bring in a bigger bevy of common kitchen pests. Like most pests, pantry pests are looking for warmer spaces and reliable food sources. Your kitchen cabinets, therefore, are prime real estate.
Before you waste your time worrying about a kitchen overhaul or hiring a cleaning service, take a look at the common types of kitchen pests you might encounter this winter and what you can do to kick them to the curb.
Common Types of Kitchen Pests
If you spot a pest in your kitchen cabinet, or worse -- inside a package of food product like grain or cereal -- that pest will most likely be one of the following:
- Flour or grain beetle
- Indian meal moth
By and large, pantry pests are harmless, but that doesn’t mean you want them scurrying along your shelves, countertops or mistakenly sneaking into your next recipe. Of the above three, Indian meal moths are perhaps the easiest to spot. Like any other moth, Indian meal moths will circle the light sources in your kitchen. If you see moths fluttering around your kitchen overhead light, or even circling the small lights above your stove or oven hood, these are likely Indian meal moths.
However, you can also find Indian meal moth larvae inside food packages of flour, grains, and oatmeal. According to researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “Indian meal moths have been known to infest candy bars and baked goods in vending machines.”
While Indian moths are quick to take wing, weevils and beetles, however, will not abandon their food sources. So, if you have some packages, even unopened, that you’ve not used or even moved from the shelf in several months, you could find pests, like beetles and weevils, feasting inside. If you’re unsure how long a product has had place of pride on your shelf, check for dust and ditch it.
Kitchen Pests Have Nothing to Do with Kitchen Cleanliness
It’s really a myth, albeit a persistent one, that dirty kitchens attract pests. Sure, a filthy kitchen likely doesn’t help the situation, but even the cleanest kitchen, approved by even the most critical chef’s standards, is at the mercy of common kitchen pests.
The reason is simply because kitchen pests don’t come from your kitchen. They might have hitched a ride in your shopping bags from the local grocer or farmer’s market. The problem could have started even earlier, back at the plant or factory where the food product was manufactured.
Kitchen pests are hardy and can withstand long journeys, challenging temperatures, and relocations without issue. So, just because you open a bag of flour to discover a colony of weevils munching away inside is not a reflection on the cleanliness of your kitchen.
However, it could be a good reminder of some preventative practices to keep kitchen pests at bay…
Kick Kitchen Pests to the Curb
When it comes to mitigating the presence of pests in your pantry this winter, consider purchasing smaller packages so that you use up the products quicker. Be savvy when it comes to shopping, too, and avoid any packages that have cracks, dents, or are otherwise damaged. These little imperfections could have provided the perfect access for pests to travel home and set up shop in your kitchen.
Another good rule of thumb is to clean out your pantry -- really give it a thorough overhaul -- about every three months. This helps get rid of any infested products, along with expired goods, and anything you’re not using that a kitchen pest would be only too happy to partake in.
If you’re worried about not using food items like grains and flours fast enough, invest in some plastic, glass or metal containers that come with well-fitted, airtight lids. Simply transfer the grains or flours from their original packaging and know that they are more secure in these sturdier options.
Pet food and pet treats can also attract kitchen pests, which is why these are best left outside of the kitchen, or stored in similar, lidded, airtight receptacles.
Don’t worry if you discover pantry pests in your home. They are not poisonous, even if you suspect that you accidentally ingested one. When you do clean out your pantry, whether because you noticed a kitchen pest or simply as part of smart kitchen maintenance, do not use harsh chemicals or bleach. Simple soapy water will take care of the pests and stop you from possibly contaminating any ingredients or food stuffs.
Of course, if you feel overwhelmed by an infestation or worry that your pantry pest problem is indicative of something much larger, don’t wait. Reach out to the JP Pest Services professionals and let our experts determine the best strategy to keep your kitchen pest-free.