There’s nothing quite so disturbing as starting to make pancakes for your family on a Sunday morning, and opening a box of pancake mix to discover it’s crawling with tiny bugs. Then, as you start frantically going through your other bags of flour and biscuit mix, you discover that you have an absolute infestation of pantry pests!
Unlike many other pest problems, pantry pests don’t have a favorite “season” or “time of year.” They are a year-round, full-time, equal opportunity nuisance! In the exterminating business they’re also known as “stored product pests,” and – though they’re so tiny it’s difficult to identify them – they include things like drugstore beetles, cigarette beetles, flour beetles, rice weevils, grain moths, and the Indian meal moth. They gravitate toward dry food products that are packaged in bags and/or cardboard boxes.
With these tiny pests, prevention is often easier than eradication; once they’ve taken hold, some of these little critters are resistant to many pesticides, and – since they inhabit food storage areas – it isn’t possible to fumigate with certain solutions. Here are some preventative measures that can go a long way towards stopping pantry pests before they get started!
• Control humidity; if your pantry is near your washing machine or other water outlet, consider putting a dehumidifier in there.
• Don’t just put new packages and bags on the shelf – check them when you bring them home. Pantry pests often infiltrate grocery stores and ride home in your car.
• Clean your cupboards regularly, any kind of crumb or food particle will attract these tiny bugs.
• Seal opened bags of flour, grain, cereal, rice, batter mix, seeds, and pet food; putting them in another plastic, zip-lock bag is best.
• Get rid of old plastic containers that aren’t being used.
• Check spices regularly, especially paprika and red pepper; throw spices away after six months, or when they lose their scent.