How to control pesky pantry pests
JOHANNA HICKS | Hopkins County Extension Agent / Family and Consumer Sciences

Nov. 19, 2006 - With the continuing drought and cooler weather, all kinds of bugs and insects are looking for food, water, and shelter. It is always easier to keep them out than trying to get rid of them after they move in. Many different types of insects can be classified as pantry pests — moths, beetles or weevils — that live on food stored in the home.

Where do these creepy crawlies come from? Uninvited guests love spilled food, dirty surfaces and garbage cans, cracks in the cupboard, walls and floor, and seldom-used storage places as well as behind sinks and water pipes. Weevils are sometimes found in packages that have been left in the cupboard for a long time. The food may have been contaminated with insect eggs and sealed in the package. When the eggs hatch, the insects escape and infest other foods. Eventually, the entire cupboard can become infested.

Pantry pests can spread easily to other food, which is like money thrown away. Keep flour, rice, cornmeal, pasta, cereal, oatmeal and crackers as well as spices in metal or glass containers so that insects cannot move from one food to another. New packages of grain products can be placed in the freezer for 4-5 days when you bring them home to kill any existing insect eggs. Pests also like dog, food, cat food, pet treats and birdseed, so keep these out of the kitchen or in covered containers. 

So how to you avoid pantry pests? 

The first step is sanitize. Clean shelves and bins, using a rag to gather crumbs. Clean containers before refilling with new food. Once the pantry is clean, you should keep it clean.

The second step is to clean up and seal up. If you have shelves, food participle can fall down into the cracks. Every now and then, vacuum or wipe off the shelves. Cracks in the shelves can be sealed with caulk to keep food participle from falling down into them.

Step three is to exclude. Inspect food items before purchase. Do not purchase items that are damaged or open. Buy small quantities of food that will be used in 2-4 months. Storing food in airtight containers will protect it from invasion.

Remember the ISEC method of controlling pantry pests.

I - Identify. Inspect your home for signs of pantry pests so you’ll know the best method of controlling them.

S - Sanitize. Clean on a regular basis to reduce what attracts pests.

E - Exclude. Seal any entry points into the home.

C - Control. Use non-chemical methods first. Use pesticides only when necessary. Inspect you pantry weekly until no more pests are found.

Don’t let pantry pests ruin your hard-earned food supply!


  • Monday, Nov. 20 - Lone Star 4-H Club meeting
  • Tuesday, Nov. 21 - Diabetes Support Group, 6 p.m., Basement conference room of hospital 
  • Thursday-Friday, Nov. 23-24 - Extension Office closed for Thanksgiving holidays


Through your daily works and actions, let your children know that they can’t be replaced, that each is very special to you.

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