Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Defense Public Health expert offers tips for eliminating pesky pantry pests

    Defense Public Health expert offers tips for eliminating pesky pantry pests

    Photo By Andrew Leitzer | We all know that fresh produce goes bad, but most homeowners are surprised and unhappy...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen

    By Jessica Mathios, MS, MPH, Defense Centers for Public Health – Aberdeen
    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- With the rising cost of food these days, many individuals are trying to stretch their food budget. We all know that fresh produce goes bad, but most homeowners are surprised and unhappy when they open their breakfast cereal or flour and find insect “bonuses” inside. These sneaky little beetles and moths, called “pantry pests,” can find their way into your food both at your home and before it reaches you: at warehouses, factories and grocery stores. No one wants to find more than raisins in their bran cereal, so Army public health and veterinary personnel are on the job to protect your food.

    So, how do you keep them out?
    The first line of defense in the battle with these pests is spot them early and avoid bringing them home. Do this by carefully inspecting food packages for damage when you are shopping; don’t purchase anything that isn’t thoroughly sealed. If you have freezer space, you can also freeze your corn meal or flour for a week after you bring it home to make sure no pesky critters have hitched a ride inside the package.

    Once food is in your pantry, protect your flour, baking mixes, breakfast cereals and other open products by storing them inside airtight glass or plastic containers. Make your pantry insect-unfriendly by regularly cleaning up spilled food and crumbs and discarding expired food items.

    Be careful with high-risk items.
    Pantry pests love to infest dry dog or cat food and bird seed. These packages are not as durable as “people food” packages, and insects can find holes, climb in, and climb back out in your kitchen. To keep these pests out of the pantry, store these items in airtight containers away from “people food.” Also, be sure to completely empty your pet food and bird seed containers and wash them out before refilling them, or you may infest every new bag of food you add.

    How do I know if I have a problem?
    You can do your best to not bring pantry pests home, but it may still happen. It’s important to know the warning signs of an infestation. If you see bugs in your food or pantry, you may have a problem, but sometimes the signs are less obvious. Be on the lookout for webbing (like spider silk) inside packages. If the food turns powdery at the bottom, changes color, or smells unusual, take a closer look. Some insects can even chew little round holes in the plastic packages to get in or out, so don’t overlook added package “ventilation.” Whole grains and beans can also be infested, so keep an eye out for holes or hollowed-out grains that tell you an insect beat you to the groceries.

    Help, I’ve got a problem! Apply “food first aid.”
    If you spot any of the signs mentioned above or see insects crawling or flying around the packages on your shelves, it’s time for a more thorough search to find the cause of the infestation. You have to find and remove the source of pantry pests; consider it a scavenger hunt – but with insects as the “prize”!

    Here are some “food first aid” steps you can follow:
    • Carefully check all your packages of dried foods such as pasta, rice, flour, cornmeal, cereal, or spices. Look for adult beetles or moths, and caterpillar-like larvae. Don’t forget that insects can chew through plastic, so you need to check unopened packages too. Some pantry pests are tiny and are very good at finding their way into the smallest of spaces. Insects can sometimes be seen hidden in the seams of the package – with you hunting for them, who wouldn’t hide?
    • Once you find the guilty package, take it out to the trash.
    • Check packages around the infested one to make sure no one moved next door looking for a better life, and make sure all the crumbs, spills, and expired products are removed.
    • Thoroughly clean the shelves and floor to get rid of leftover food that orphaned pantry pests could eat, and please, do not spray insecticides in food storage areas.

    What if I ate infested food? Can it make me sick?
    In general, the worst thing about pantry pests is the “gross factor” of finding bugs in your food. And let’s not forget that throwing away and replacing food costs a lot, especially today! While some of these insects can make people sick if high numbers are found, most people will realize they have a problem and get rid of the food before it makes them ill.

    If you think you have a problem, or have a question for an entomologist, you can contact the Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen, formerly Army Public Health Center, food-infesting insect mailbox at or visit their web page with more information at

    Safe shopping, happy cooking, and may your food remain pest-free!

    The Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen advances Joint Force health protection with agile public health enterprise solutions in support of the National Defense Strategy.

    NOTE: The mention of any non-federal entity and/or its products is for informational purposes only, and not to be construed or interpreted, in any manner, as federal endorsement of that non-federal entity or its products.



    Date Taken: 04.13.2023
    Date Posted: 04.13.2023 13:51
    Story ID: 442583
    Location: US

    Web Views: 1,213
    Downloads: 0