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Preventing Pests in Your Pantry and Kitchen

“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup…and in the flour…and in the rice?! YUCK! Pantry pests!”

“Pantry pest” is a general term we in the pest control industry use to describe bugs commonly found in stored food items. The most common pests we encounter in Florida are the same found throughout the country.

Bugs considered “pantry pests” are usually either moths or beetles. The adult forms of these bugs are usually the first sign of a problem. They are often first seen in the kitchen, but can move quickly to adjacent rooms because most are strong fliers and are drawn to light.

If you’re seeing moths or very small beetles, the first place to begin looking for the source of the problem is the pantry or cupboard where flour products are stored. Uncooked flour and other grain products are the food source for these bugs. Check packages carefully for signs of adult pests or their larva.

Packages that have been on the shelf the longest are those most likely to be a problem. There is a reason for this. As unsavory as it sounds, the eggs of these bugs are already in these products when you bring them home from the store. Given enough time, they will hatch. Yuck.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter that these goods are in their original packages, or stored in airtight containers or zippered plastic bags. The eggs are already in the product before the product is placed in the container.

So, the bugs you might find inside these storage containers didn’t chew their way in without leaving holes. The eggs were sealed in when the container was closed and they grew into adults inside the container. In the case of plastic bags, they may chew their way out and infest other products stored nearby.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep pantry pests out of your home:

1. Check the expiration date on any flour-based items you purchase before leaving the store. In addition to flour, check products such as pancake mix, cake mix, pasta, oatmeal, pet food, and bird seed. Purchase the freshest products available.

2. Once home, place these items in the freezer for at least four days. This will kill the eggs. If you store them in the refrigerator it’ll slow the development of the eggs, but won’t kill them. After four days these goods can be removed from the freezer and because the eggs are dead, none will hatch.

3. Lastly, remember to rotate these items on the shelf. Use the oldest products first in the style of FIFO: first in, first out.

Following these three steps will greatly diminish the chances of seeing pantry pests in your home.

If you live in Volusia or Flagler Counties in Florida and have done these things and are still troubled with small moths or beetles, please contact Universal Pest Control or click here to learn more about our residential pest control services. We can be reached online at or by calling (386) 673-1557.

Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.

Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control