Pantry Pests: Why You Get Them & How to Get Rid of Them

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Do you want to swiftly get rid of pantry pests? Understandably so, few things are more unsettling than reaching for anything in your cupboard and seeing a variety of creepy crawlies lurking inside.

In this article, we’ll talk about the various pests that frequently infest pantries, along with the best methods for identifying pantry pests and how to get rid of them.

What Are Pantry Pests?

A collection of pests with a voracious appetite for dried and processed food items that are kept in your home are referred to as “pantry pests” or “stored product pests.” Flour, cereal, dry pasta, dry pet food, cornstarch, powdered milk, crackers, spices, bread, birdseed, dried fruit, and more are examples of products.

Although there are many other insects that can be considered pantry pests, kitchens and houses are most frequently infested by the Indian meal moth, saw-toothed grain beetle, cigarette beetle, and red flour beetle.

Due to their propensity to reside inside the food products they feed on, pantry pests can reproduce practically continually. In the course of a year, these insects can create many generations of their species. Their presence in the house does not necessarily speak to the housekeeper’s caliber.

Types of Pantry Pests: Common Pantry Pests

Pests in the pantry come in a wide variety. The Indian Meal Moth, also known as the Pantry Moth, is one of the most frequent pests to look out for in a pantry. However, some varieties of mice, beetles, and other critters can get into your pantry.

You may occasionally discover insect traces in your pantry even when you can’t see the actual invaders. To choose the best elimination method, you must first determine what critters are consuming your stored items.

Use the information below to your advantage if you are unsure of what your pantry pests are:

Indian Meal Moths

Pantry moths are another name for Indian meal moths. Larvae of the pantry moth consume every type of dried item kept in the house. These bugs are without a doubt one of the most prevalent forms of pantry pests and are infamous for being challenging to eradicate.

These little moths, Plodia Interpunctella in the scientific literature, with tan and reddish-brown wings. When fully mature, the moths can also have markings on the front half of their bodies and can be pale gray or coppery in color.

Eggs are laid in pantry items by pantry moths. When the eggs hatch, little worm-like larvae that are ravenous emerge. The worms consume a wide variety of meals before creating cocoons and restarting the cycle.

The Indian Meal Moth’s brown or tan larvae are in charge of destroying your pantry goods and eating food. If you come across any of these moths or their larvae, get rid of them straight away.

Signs of a Pantry Moths infestation:

  • Adult moths flying around the home
  • A pantry full of cocoon casings
  • Dead adult moths or larvae
  • Dried goods have sticky secretions
  • Packaging corners have webbing

To learn more about pantry moths, visit our Pantry Moths vs Clothes Moths, Pantry Moth Life Cycle, & How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths guides!

Sawtoothed Grain Beetles

Oryzaephilus Surinamensis is the scientific name for sawtoothed grain beetles. They are brown, flat, and thin insects. They have saw-like, serrated spikes on the sides of their thoraxes, between their abdomens and heads, and are roughly one-tenth of an inch long.

Both the larvae and the adults enjoy eating dry foods. Scavenging is what Sawtoothed Grain Beetles do for fun. They consume foods that are in the open, such as candy, cereal, nuts, dried fruits, and more. Even rodent bait and bird seed have been known to contain them.

Signs of a Sawtoothed Grain Beetles infestation:

  • Adults crawling on surfaces
  • Dead beetles on storage shelves
  • Small holes in food packaging

Cigarette Beetles

The light brown Cigarette Beetles (Lasioderma Serricorne) are about 1/8 of an inch long. They have an oval form and teeny-teeny-tiny hairs that give them a fuzzy appearance. They are renowned for consuming tobacco from cigars, cigarettes, or leaves that have been dry-cured.

The foods that these pantry beetles prefer to infest are cereals, nuts, tobacco, and pet food. They could, however, spread disease to wreaths or even to seasonings like a chili pepper.

Signs of a Cigarette Beetle infestation:

  • Dead or alive adult beetles
  • Packaging debris scattered on shelves
  • Small holes in food packaging


Mice must also be mentioned as pantry pests. Despite the fact that mice can infest just about any area of your home, they are infamous for getting into cupboards and pantries. This is especially true if your pantry is in a cabin or house with little to no activity.

Most likely, you are already familiar with how mice look. However, not all mice are likely to infest your house.

Three different species of mice enjoy entering homes in North America and nibbling on the food in the pantry. House mice, white-footed mice, and deer mice are these. Mice are nocturnal, which means that they spend most of the day sleeping.

Signs of a mouse infestation:

  • Mouse droppings
  • Large holes in the corners of boxes
  • Plastic bags being gnawed through
  • Shredded balls of material in the corners of cupboards or near the floorboards

Four Common Reasons People Get Pantry Pests

It’s not always a sign of a dirty house when you have a bug infestation in your pantry. So, if you have pantry moths, don’t feel horrible about it! You could still encounter these persistent bugs even if you keep your home immaculate.

There are a few factors, which have little to do with your hygiene, that contributes to insects’ preference for infesting pantries. The following are the main causes of pantry pests:

1. Quiet Areas

One of the main causes of pantry pest infestations is inactivity. For instance, if you keep things in your pantry that you rarely use or pick up, they might attract bugs. For pantry bugs to find food supplies undisturbed, vacation houses, rental properties, and cabins are all excellent settings.

2. Open Food

Pests in the pantry are also likely to be drawn by open items. This could be a large bag of dog food, an open bag of flour, or even a cereal box that is only partially consumed.

3. Hitching a Ride

Another way pantry pests might enter your home is through an unopened package. For instance, huge bags of birdseed could contain insect larvae that invade pantry shelves. Bags of grain, flour, and pet food could all be infected. This is one reason to be cautious when purchasing expired goods.

4. Outside Storage

Pests might get inside the food that is kept in a garage, shed, storage facility, or another area that is open to the elements. For instance, a pantry moth might have laid eggs in a bag of birdseed if you left it on your porch for a few days before bringing it inside your pantry.

What Are the Signs of a Pantry Pest Infestation?

Because the insects are so minute and frequently resemble the color of their food, infestations are easy to miss. Small moths that start flying around or the sight of beetles in or near food containers are frequently the first indications of an infestation. Apart from their food source, you can observe them flying because they are drawn to light.

Are Pantry Pests Dangerous?

Saw-toothed grain beetles, cigarette beetles, and Indian meal moths are not harmful in and of themselves. The largest risk they present is an infestation and food spoilage, which increase waste and the homeowner’s cost of living.

Do not become alarmed if the insects or their eggs are consumed. No known diseases are spread by Indian meal moths, saw-tooth grain beetles, or cigarette beetles, and none of these insects are known to harbor hazardous infections.

How Can I Prevent a Pantry Pest Infestation?

Always keep dry pantry foods in containers with tight-fitting lids. The larvae can simply enter containers that are not firmly sealed or quickly eat their way out of paper and cardboard to access other food. Frequently clean the shelves in your pantry. By getting rid of the crumbs that pantry pests love to eat, you can cut off their supply of food.

Never mix new and old dry-stored food products together unless you are certain they are both pest-free. You can test anything if you’re unsure if it’s infested.

Simply put the item in a transparent plastic bag. You will notice the pest accumulating in the bag if it is affected. Keep the product in the bag for at least a month to make sure it’s pest-free.

Before adding fresh food, clean the old containers. This stops any pests that are already present from contaminating the new product.

How Do I Get Rid of Pantry Pests?

Pests in the pantry might be challenging to get rid of. Despite not being exceptionally swift, agile, or wary, they are hard to spot because of the way they naturally fit in with their surroundings. Unless you can locate the source of the infestation, DIY techniques are not usually effective.

The methods below should be followed if you wish to try to get rid of the infestation on your own:

  • Any infested foods should be thrown away, and you should put them in a plastic bag before doing so.
  • The pantry shelves should be cleared of all items, and any pests, eggs, or pupae that might be hiding there should be sucked out with a vacuum. Prior to disposal, seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag to prevent re-infestation.
  • Before putting anything back in the pantry, thoroughly clean the shelves, walls, and corners.

Keep in mind that not all over-the-counter insecticides and other pest control solutions are efficient, and some can even be toxic to people and pets if used or combined inappropriately, especially near food items in your pantry.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are these little bugs in my pantry?

Pests from the pantry invade houses in search of food to eat and/or rich sources of nourishment for their young. When they locate a sufficient food supply, they either eat it directly or lay eggs that eventually hatch into larvae that eat the neighboring food sources. The most prevalent insects that infest pantries are moths and beetles.

What causes pantry pests?

Pests from the pantry frequently enter your home through infected objects. Open food containers, however, may also draw their attention. Because of this, it is recommended that you store your food in airtight containers otherwise you will end up with infested food.

Are pantry pests harmful to humans?

Pests from the pantry frequently enter your home through infected objects. Open food containers, however, may also draw their attention. Because of this, it is recommended that you store your food in airtight containers.

By Travis Amos

My house is my castle, and there is no space for unwanted neighbors.

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