At some time or another you find insects in flour, cereals, breakfast foods or dry baking ingredients in cupboards or other storage places. Infestations of this type are not necessarily your fault; the insects may gain entrance into the house as a result of buying some cereal product that already has become infested. |
A number of insects, commonly referred to as pantry or kitchen pests, infests dry or stored food products in the home. Most are either beetles or moths. In the case of beetles, both the adult and larval stages may be damaging while only the larvae of moths are destructive. Infestations may be noted when these insects are found in some products, but more commonly when the adults are seen crawling or flying about the kitchen or pantry.
Since most of these insects are of tropical or semi-tropical origin, they live and breed best under warm, humid conditions – conditions often found in kitchen cupboards. Since most do not hibernate, reproduction is continuous throughout the year and populations can build up rapidly if they are left undisturbed.
SOURCE OF INFESTATION
Pantry pests are almost always brought into the home in infested food packages. From here, they spread to other susceptible products. On occasion, adults fly in through open doors and windows. Pantry infestations of carpet beetles and larder beetles may be due to a change of habitat – from products containing wool, fur, or feathers to dried food products. Larder beetles are attracted to the fat in dry dog and cat food. Psocids, or book lice, like to feed on starchy materials and may infest dried food products after first feeding on non-food products.
Items most likely to be infested with pantry pests include grains, flour, bran, cereal, breakfast foods, dried fruits, nuts, crackers, cookies, matzos, macaroni, spaghetti, candy, chocolate, cocoa, cheese and dried meats. Also they can be found in dry dog and cat food, bird and vegetable seeds, cornstarch, dried soup mixes and other dehydrated foods, and in spices – especially red pepper, paprika and chili powder.
Other pantry pests less frequently encountered include the granary weevil, Angoumois grain moth, bean weevil, and lesser grain borer. These insects are largely internal feeders on whole grain products like the rice weevil and therefore are seldom seen until the adults emerge from the grain.
The rest of the stored products pests are either external feeders or scavengers who feed on grain only after the seed coat has been broken either mechanically or by some other insect, or secondary pests that feed only on materials which are out of condition, damp, or have some mold on them. These pests include the Mediterranean flour moth, confused flour beetle, red flour beetle, cigarette beetle, drugstore beetle, spider beetle, black carpet beetle, larder beetle, cadelle, yellow mealworm, grain mite, psocid, and others
Methods of Control
Sanitation is the best method of control and prevention at present. Removal of all cereal refuse does away with possible breeding places for the insects. Therefore, controlling insect pests in stored cereal products should include the following steps:
* Discard all infested foodstuffs and place all newly purchased flour, sugar, breakfast food and similar products in canister-type containers. * Thoroughly clean the cupboard and storage bins of all refuse material. Be sure to clean out the cracks along the shelves and top of the cupboard. Scrub out these areas with soap and water, adding a little household disinfectant. * Purchase foods in quantities small enough so they may be used up rapidly. * Keep all food storage space clean at all times. * Spray the shelves or other infested areas lightly, particularly cracks where shelves and cupboards come together. Suggested insecticides include resmethrin, sumithrin, tetramethrin, permethrin and pyrethins. Caution: All foodstuffs and cooking utensils should be removed before spraying. All sprayed surfaces should be allowed to dry thoroughly before packaged foods or utensils are placed back. Small children should not be allowed to come in contact with the insecticide until the sprayed surface has dried completely. * When spray dries, cover shelves with clean, fresh paper before replacing packaged food and utensils.
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