indian meal moth in knoxville pantry

The most common pests that get into cupboards are called pantry pests or stored-product pests. They are Indian meal moths, several types of beetle, and several types of weevil. Indian meal moths are incredibly tiny moths at only about ⅝ of an inch in length. If you see a little moth in your cupboard, it is almost certainly an Indian meal moth. Beetles are insects with three body parts and rounded heads. Weevils are much like beetles but they have pointed noses. If you see any of these insects inside your Knoxville cupboards, pantry or kitchen, there are a few things you should know about them.

Anatomy of a Pantry Pest Problem

While many pantry pests can get into your home from the outside, they usually don't. It is more common for pantry pests to get into your home by hitchhiking and spreading from package to package once they've gotten in. This is because they lay their eggs in the stored products you get from the grocery store, products such as flour, rice, corn, whole wheat, chocolate, dried fruit, macaroni, spices, crackers, cereals and more. For this reason, the best way to prevent pantry pests is to take steps to prevent them from hitchhiking into your home.

Pantry Pest Grocery Tips

  • Check packages for holes or tears before you purchase them from the grocery store.
  • Check expiration dates on food packages. Pantry pests are drawn in by the scent of products that are past their due date.
  • If you notice a tiny moth on a shelf at the grocery store, take extra precaution.
  • Keep in mind that large packages of stored food products are more susceptible to pantry pest infestations. Be cautious when buying in bulk.
  • Be aware that a pantry pest infestation can begin with an infestation of dog or cat food. They don't only infest human food.

Warning Signs

The most obvious warning sign is the presence of moths, beetles or weevils in your cupboard. But this isn't the best warning sign. These insects are evidence that there are larvae in your food. That means you might have eaten something that was infested. It is better to detect signs of larvae activity before they develop into adult insects. It can be difficult to see larvae because they can look like the product they're infesting, like tiny grains of wiggly rice. So you may have to look closely. Some are obvious and easy to detect. Some are small or hidden inside the foods they are eating. For these, it is helpful to look for webbing.

Pantry Pest Cupboard Tips

  • Consider putting your pantry foods in sealed containers. Hard plastic and glass work best. These containers will also help to keep your stored foods fresh longer. Be sure to put the due dates on a label to keep track of that freshness.
  • If you don't use containers for your food, be sure to periodically check the due dates on your packages and throw items out that are past due.
  • If you have products in canisters, consider putting bay leaves in those containers. The scent of bay leaves is repulsive to some pantry pests and having them in your canisters can prevent pests from getting in from another infested product in your cupboard.
  • Keep your pantry shelves clean and clear of food debris.

Pantry Pest Control

Now that you know where pantry pests come from and what they do when they get into your cupboards, it is important to know what to do about them when you detect them. There are some things you can do yourself, such as throwing out infested products and doing a close inspection of other products that the larvae could have transferred to. But, if the thought of accidentally eating insect larvae is disturbing to you, and you don't want to miss a single one, the best course of action is to have a licensed pest management professional have a look. In the Knoxville area, Russell's Pest Control is a leader in pest control. All of our service professionals are fully licensed and certified and they have worked hard to earn the QualityPro seal of excellence from the National Pest Management Association. They have the training, experience and professionalism to track down pantry pests and completely eliminate them.


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