These truly can be a “pest”. They are called as a whole group collectively pantry pests. They have an appetite for stored food products (people and pet foods) such as: flour, cereal, dry pasta, dry pet food, powdered milk, corn starch, crackers, spices, breads, bird seed, dried nuts and fruit. They become especially troublesome when these foodstuffs are stored in paper containers and go unused for extended periods of time. These pests are important to the householder because they cause food waste and infestations can be persistent.
There are several pantry pest: Rice Weevils, Granary Weevils, Grain Moths, Grain Bores, Drugstore Beetles, Tobacco Beetle, Indian Meal Moth, Confused Flour Beetle, Red Flour Beetles, etc.
These insects can be brought into homes in packaged foods, although they may enter from outside sources, or from adjacent apartments. Their presence in the home does not necessarily reflect on the quality of the housekeeper. The majority of these pests are either beetles or moths. The adult stage is the most easily detected as they often leave the infested material in search of new locations, or are attracted to lights.
The larval or immature stages are either caterpillars or grubs. These spend most of their life in the infested material, and are usually similar in color to the food that they are living in. The eggs of these insects are quite small and usually go unnoticed.
The pupal stage may take place away from the infested food in corners or cracks in the cupboards or packaging. The length of time to complete their life cycle varies greatly, depending on temperature, relative humidity, and the quality of the food supply.
Most stored food pests can complete several generations in one year. They can also breed continuously as they usually exist in favorable conditions
Both can be eliminated by a proper search for the infestation and treatment with traps and/or crack and crevice aerosols.
Stored product pests are usually brought into the home in an infested package of food.
Initially, infestations are easy to overlook because the insects involved are quite small, especially the egg and larval stages.
Often the first indication of the infestation is the appearance of small moths flying about or the presence of beetles in or near the food package.
# In private residences the pantry pest such as the Indian meal moth is usually brought in products from the grocery stores. It is usually just in one area, but can spill over into other areas.
Pantry Pest Prevention:
# Place exposed food in containers with tight-fitting lids .
# Periodic cleaning of the shelves helps to prevent infestation of stored food products by pantry pests. Certain pantry pests need only small amounts of food to live and breed.
# Some infestations of packaged food originate in the food-processing plant or warehouse.
Broken packages should not be purchased, or should be exchanged for unbroken packages when discovered, for the chance of these being infested is greater than for perfectly sealed ones.
# Do not mix old and new lots of foodstuffs.
If the old material is infested, the pest will quickly invade the new.
# If you are unsure about an item being infested, place it in a plastic bag where you will be able to catch anything that emerges.
If you find the pantry pest accumulating in the bag, you know the foodstuff is contaminated and needs to be discarded.
To insure any item is pest free, store it in these clear bags for at least a month. Sometimes it takes even longer for the adults to emerge.
# Infestations are most likely to occur in packages that have been opened for the removal of a portion of the contents and then left unsealed for long periods.
Some of the pests may find their way into other food packages, but even those in a single package may become so numerous that large numbers may find their way into every suitable material in the home, and will eventually crawl over floors, climb up walls, and gather about windows.
# Clean old containers before filling them with fresh food. They may be contaminated and cause a new infestation.
# Make sure that cabinets and storage units are tight and can be cleaned easily.
# Store bulk materials, such as pet foods, in containers with tight-fitting lids.
# Keep storage units dry. This is important because moisture favors the development of pantry pests; dryness discourages them.
# Some pantry insects breed in the nests of rodents and insects and may migrate from these into homes. Eliminate any nests found in or near the home.
# Pantry pests can also breed in rodent baits. Be sure to frequently check and discard infested baits.
When packages of food are found to be infested with moths or beetles, either low or high temperatures may be used to control the infestation. Insects are cold-blooded; their body temperatures closely follow that of their environment.
The most favorable temperature for most pantry pest is about 80°F. Above 95°F or below 60°F, reproduction and survival is greatly reduced.
When temperatures are lowered, insect activity decreases until all activity stops. The quicker the drop in temperature, the quicker the kill.
Although insects will be killed, their bodies will remain in the food unless sieved out.
An exposure of 2 to 3 days to temperatures of 5°F or lower kills the more susceptible stages (larvae and adults), but eggs require longer to kill (3 weeks).
An alternative is to freeze the food for a week, remove it from the freezer for a few days, and then refreeze it for another week.
General Information: Fabric Pest
Clothes Moth Traps and Control Measures for clothes moths and beetles
The most prevalent fabric destroying insects in the U.S.A. include two clothes moths: Webbing Clothes Moth and the Casemaking Clothe Moth and three carpet beetles: Black carpet beetle, varied carpet beetle, and furniture carpet beetle.
The first thing needed to done is the elimination of the source of infestation.
You should make a thorough inspection of infested premises to find all sources of infestation.
In the northern states east of the Rocky Mountains, damage to fabrics is more likely caused by dermestid beetles than clothes moths. Dermestid beetles are more resistant to cold temperatures and lower humidities of the northern states. In the southern states, clothes moths are more likely to be a problem because of higher humidity and temperatures.
Insects of the remaining groups, crickets, silverfish, cockroaches and termites usually feed on substances other than fabrics. However, these insects will feed on fabrics, especially when the fabric has food or perspiration stains on it.
After damage to fabric is discovered, it may take some detective work to determine the culprit. The insect pest is usually no longer present when the damage is found. To properly determine the pest, an investigator should make note of the following clues.
1. Look for live or dead insects. Live insects may be hard to find because these pests avoid the light, hiding in the folds of the fabric or in the cracks and crevices of closets. You can sometimes find dermestid larvae by shaking the damaged fabric over the middle of a white sheet spread out on the floor. Live adult carpet beetles and clothes moths are rarely found because they do not feed on fabric. Carpet beetles adults sometimes can be found dead on window sills, and clothes moth adults do not feed.
2. Look for cast skins, insect fragments and products. Cast skins of larvae are often found with damaged fabric or fur. If you need to remove insect fragments for identification, carefully place them in a small vial or tin and take them to an Extension diagnostic lab. Brittle insect parts break apart easily when placed in an envelope. Clothes moths will often leave silken webbing, cases, pupae or frass in the damaged fabrics. These “parts” will help identify the pest.
3. Type of fabric. Carpet beetles and clothes moths can digest keratin, a component of animal hair, which includes wool, fur and feathers. Fabric made of wool blends may also be damaged. They also feed on silk. The other fabric pests tend to damage fabrics only if the fabrics are stained with food or perspiration
Fabric insects cause significant damage in commercial and residential areas. Fabrics destroyed include woolens, furs, hairs, leathers , feathers, horns, insect and animal collections.
They can also attack stored foods such as food, meat, fish, meal and milk products. Synthetic fibers are rarely damaged, only incidentally due to oiled stains , perspiration or other residue on the fabric.
These insects are able to digest keratin as their food source. Keratin is the chief ingredient in human tissues such as skin, hair and fingernails.
Keratin is a chief ingredient in horns, hoofs, feathers, hair, nails in other mammals.
Other pest, such as silverfish, crickets, cockroaches and earwigs will chew or shred the fabric, but not digest it.
The ability to digest the keratin and the abundant use of wool and other animal hair is the cause of such a widespread problem.
If pantry pests have become a problem in your home contact Johnson Pest Control at 865-453-7587, for more information on eliminating unwanted pests.