Tips for Avoiding Stored Product Pests this Summertime

Tips for Avoiding Stored Product Pests this Summertime

There are several pests that like to get into pantry foods. These are called stored product pests or cereal pests because they target products that are stored and many have a fondness for foods that have grains in them. Perhaps you’ve heard of some pantry pests. Does the Indian meal moth, the saw-toothed grain beetle, or the rice weevil ring a bell? There are several species of beetle and weevil that get into stored foods. When they do, they lay their eggs so that developing larvae have easy access to a food source when they hatch. Unfortunately, that can make your foods less than savory. Here are some of the best tips for avoiding stored product pests this summer, from the experts at Russell’s Pest Control.


The best way to stop this type of pest from getting into your home is to recognize signs of infestation. In the case of Indian meal moths, these tiny, rusty-brown colored moths only live for a short period of time because they aren’t able to eat. At this stage of development, those adults can give you a warning sign that larvae are in the foods these moths are found near. This is also the case with beetles and weevils. If you see insects, pay close attention.


When you’re selecting foods from the grocery store, inspect the packaging. Do not purchase any products that have holes, gaps, or rips that pantry pests can use to get in.

Early Detection and Product Protection

The best way to detect pantry pests and prevent the spread of pantry pests from one product to the next is to put your foods in sealed plastic containers. When you do this, it will also give you the opportunity to inspect your foods. Look for the presence of webbing and, of course, tiny insects crawling around.

Good Practices

If you don’t use sealed plastic containers to protect your food, take steps to prevent food spoilage that can attract pests in from the outside of your home. Put new items to the back and old items to the front. Routinely check your due dates and throw out old items. Keep shelves clean and free of food debris.

Pantry Pest Control

When pantry pests appear, contact a licensed and certified pest professional. Throwing out the tainted product is not a guaranteed way to solve your problem, and if pantry pests are allowed to continue to feed on your foods and spread in your pantry, you could have a big problem on your hands.

For assistance with all pest problems in the Greater Knoxville area, contact Russell’s Pest Control. We have the licenses, certifications, and reputation for arresting pest problems.

Where Are These Moths And Beetles In My Pantry Coming From?

Where Are These Moths And Beetles In My Pantry Coming From?

With winter in full swing, we don’t expect to see hoards of insects in our houses. They can certainly be a problem in the hot summer months, but they should all but disappear in winter, right? If that’s the case, then where are these moths and beetles in our pantries coming from?

How Moths and Beetles Get into Your Home

Believe it or not, some pests don’t get into your house by making their way inside from outdoors or by hitching a ride on the backs of your pets. Some pests get into your house because you bring them in. Indian meal moths and saw toothed grain beetles are two such pests.

Commonly put into the category of pantry pests, Indian meal moths and saw toothed grain beetles most often get into your home without your knowledge. A simple trip to the grocery store may be all it takes to bring them back home with you.

How Pantry Pests Get into Your Home

Pantry pests often begin their journey to your home at food processing plants. They get into common pantry foods, such as flour or cereal, and lay their eggs. Once those foods are packaged up and sent to grocery stores, you may end up putting one of the contaminated items in your grocery cart, then bring it home with you.

There’s often an uptick in pantry pest problems during the holidays. With all the extra baking that goes on during that time of year, people tend to have more baking ingredients in their houses, which increases their chances of accidentally bringing pantry pests into their homes.

However, it’s possible to bring these pests home with you over the holiday season and not notice a problem until later in the winter when their eggs hatch. At this point, you’re likely to see their larvae in your pantry goods, or you may notice the moths and beetles themselves flying and crawling around.

How to Avoid Bringing Pantry Pests Home With You

While it’s impossible to know for sure if the groceries you bring home are infested, you can do a few things to lessen your chances of a pantry pest outbreak:

  • Inspect items at the store. If a bag has even a small hole, it may mean pests are inside.
  • Inspect the foods themselves upon returning home. You can’t open bags and boxes at the store, but you can check through the foods when you get home.
  • Store your pantry items in containers that can’t be chewed through.

What to Do if You See Pantry Pests in Your Home

If you notice Indian meal moths or saw toothed grain beetles in your home, no matter their stage of development, give Russell’s Pest Control a call. We can eliminate your pantry pest problem so you don’t have to worry about contaminated food or an increased spread of the problem from one item to another. Keep your home insect-free this winter, the way it should be! Call Russell’s for more information.

The Pests Invading Eastern Tennessee Pantries This Fall

The Pests Invading Eastern Tennessee Pantries This Fall

Fall is finally here, and we all know what that means; the holiday season is upon us. Two months and two big holidays are on the horizon: Thanksgiving and Christmas! For many Americans, the coming holiday season is a time for celebration, a time to gather together with our family and friends, and a time to talk, laugh, snack, and all around have a good time. Until, of course, someone opens up a bag of chips to find moths and beetles crawling around. Nothing ends a party faster than bugs in the food. But how did they get there? And what exactly are they? If these are the questions on your mind, then you have come to the right place.

Indian Meal Moths

Indian meal moths are small pests with bodies that are only ⅜” long, however, their wings make them look to be ⅝”. A copper red in color, these 6-legged pests are known for their ability to invade stored products and are usually found in foods such as dried fruits, seeds, chocolate, grains, nuts, bird seed, dog food, powdered milk, and dried red peppers. Most commonly, Indian meal moths will invade dry foods before they ever get to the shelves of your home. It is a good habit to carefully inspect boxes of food for damage or holes that pests could have used to get inside, before bringing them home. When you get home, consider storing dried foods inside plastic or glass, sealed containers that have airtight lids.

Saw-Toothed Grain Beetles

Saw-toothed grain beetles are much smaller than meal moths, with flat brown bodies that are a tiny 1/10” in length. Just like the Indian meal moth, grain beetles infest dry foods. The same as moths, these beetles may be prevented by thoroughly investigating food before purchasing it, and by storing foods in airtight containers.

Dangers of Beetles and Moths

It is true that both of the above panty pests do not pose any direct risk to you and your family. However, they do pose a threat to sanitation, especially in the food they infest with the eggs and fecal matter they leave behind. And, as we talked about earlier, pantry pests can pose a threat to your holiday parties by the fact that they are an extremely unpleasant addition to any food you may be trying to serve to guests.

Warning Signs and When to Call a Professional

Once inside your home, pantry pests can get out of control, spreading from food source to food source in your cabinets till it seems that nothing you want to eat is edible. If the infestation is large enough, there will be no question that they are there—you will know when you see them crawling around in your box of cornflakes. If you do find bugs in your cereal, it’s safe to say it’s time to call a professional. If your home has pantry pests, do not hesitate and call Russel’s today and let us help keep your pantries, and parties, safe this holiday season.

Indian Meal Moths: The Infuriating Pantry Moths

Today we want to talk about a pest whose high season is in July and who can cause great frustration for homeowners and business owners in Knoxville, Maryville, Sevierville, and many other surrounding areas. The pest in question is the Indian meal moth, or pantry moth, and they can wreak havoc in the kitchen.

Indian meal moths are “stored product pests,” which means that they attack and inhabit plant-based foods. You’ll know if you’ve got pantry moths because you’ll begin to see tiny whitish moths fluttering around the room, mostly in the evening and mostly in the kitchen. They are distinctive from other moths because they will not be attracted to the light. The key feature used in identifying meal moths is a small copper-colored section on the tips of their wings. Other indications of a meal moth infestation are tiny white worm-like creatures (those are the larvae) moving along surfaces anywhere in the house and silk webbing that may resemble cobwebs inside the pantry.

So, what should you do if you suspect that you have meal moths? I’ll be honest: these pests can be very tricky to eliminate, and professional help is often needed to complete the job. Still, there are several things that you can try at home, and just being aware that meal moths exist can help you stop an infestation before it starts. The most important factor in stopping a meal moth population explosion is to find the infested items. Check all of your grains, including flour, rice, and cereal first. Keeping those in air-tight containers helps to stop the moths from getting in. Pay particular attention to items that may have been sitting for a while, such as bulk foods that you move through slowly. You are looking for moths, larvae, or silk webbing that surrounds the larvae as they feed. You’ll know it if you find it.

Unfortunately, these moths can attack almost anything plant-based, so you can’t stop at the obvious. Meal moths have been known to infest chocolate, dried fruit, pet food, preserved flower arrangements, and many more unexpected items. You may have to think outside the pantry when you’re hunting for them. For instance, an abandoned squirrel’s nest in the attic or up the chimney could feed many generations of meal moths. Consider all the possibilities before giving up hope of finding their nest.

The most popular over-the-counter pest sprays are not labeled for meal moths. But, simple maintenance and sanitation can go a long way to solving the problem. When you do find contaminated items, get rid of them immediately. Use a vacuum attachment to eliminate all webbing that you find; then, if it reappears, you’ll know you haven’t eliminated all of the contamination. In addition, use that attachment to vacuum crevices around the home, including along all of the baseboards and around the cabinets. The larvae scatter before pupating in a nice, quiet crack that doesn’t get much activity. This means you could have half-grown moths around the house even if you eliminate the nest.

At Russell’s Pest Control, we use other items to help fight off these moths. Insect growth regulators (IGRs) disrupt the moths’ ability to move from one life cycle to another; these products have no effects on humans or pets, but they can stop insects from reaching a breeding age. In addition, we often use traps laced with meal moth pheromones to draw the male moths in. If there are no males to breed with the females, the population begins to die out quickly.

Need a free inspection to find out if you’ve got a pantry moth problem? Want someone to answer questions or give good pest advice? Well, you know where to reach us.