Pantry pests are small insects that feed on dried foods in the pantry. The most common one is the Indianmeal Moth.

Many times the first indication that there is an infestation is when you see a moth about 1/2 inch long come fluttering out of your cupboard when you open the cupboard door. Moths can crawl into a food product through a small opening in the packaging, either in your home or at the grocery store. They lay eggs in the product that hatch into small whitish caterpillars with brown heads.

The caterpillars may produce silk webbing, another tell-tale sign of infestation. They grow up to 1/2 inch long and then pupate, spinning a cocoon in which they eventually transform into the adult moth. They may travel great distances from the cupboard looking for a suitable place to pupate, and seeing one or two on a wall or ceiling in the kitchen is not uncommon.

There are also several small beetles and a weevil that may infest dried foods. They all have a larval form that are off-white to tan in color.

The kinds of foods that can become infested include flour and flour products such as cake and pancake mixes, cereal, nuts, raisins and other dried fruits, chocolate, pasta, dried beans, popcorn, powdered milk, and many others.

Since packaged foods left undisturbed on a shelf for long periods of time are the most susceptible, buy them in small quantities that will be consumed in a reasonable length of time. Use metal, glass and plastic storage containers with tight fitting lids.

If you suspect you have an infestation of a pantry pest, carefully inspect every product in your pantry. Look for webbing and any slight sign of movement in each package. If you find one that is infested, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and discard it.

Learn more about pantry pests on the University of Minnesota Extension’s website. Go to the following link and enter “Pantry Pests” in the search box at the top of the page: https://extension.umn.edu.

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