The best way to control kitchen insects is to prevent them from entering the kitchen or becoming a problem once in the kitchen. The ones that turn up most are saw-toothed grain beetles, flour beetles and the Indian-meal moth. They are other insects such as the cockroach, larder beetle and carpet beetle, which turn up in the kitchen but they also inhabit other areas of the house. |
Ever wonder where they come from? Well, food may have been contaminated with insect eggs and sealed in the package. When the eggs hatch, the "worms" or insects are seen in the food container, when poured into the palm of your hand, or more easily seen on a white paper or cloth background. If this package is left in the cupboard for a long time, eggs hatch, and insects escape and infest other foods. Eventually, the entire cupboard can become infested.
How those pests arrive is varied and unpredictable. They may arrive in the corrugations of a cardboard box or in a bag of flour. They may arrive on wing or by hitching a ride in some item brought into the kitchen. They may arrive as an egg on the side of a container or inside a bag, any time of the year. Many different insects can be classified as "pantry pests" - weevils or beetles that live on food stored in the home.
The first step to control pantry pests is to locate the source of the infestation. If all insects are confined to one package, simply destroy the package eliminates the problem. If you suspect insects have invaded other packages of food, place these packages in a freezer for 4-5 days. This will kill most of them, since most kitchen pests are tropical insects by origin and are vulnerable to freezing. When insects are discovered in several packages or containers or throughout the entire cupboard, more drastic action is necessary. An alternative is to place them in a low temperature oven.
Prevention is the best control.. Vacuum up crumbs and clean shelves of spilled food frequently. If some eggs do hatch and there is no food, the larvae dies.
You may inadvertently bring food pests into your home in the foot products you buy. Don't give them a chance to move to any other part of the kitchen. Seal them inside a container which they can not escape from. Use air-tight containers such as mason jars with rubber rings and metal ring caps. A "Tupperware" type container is the next best container to use, as long as it is airtight. Find containers for all grain-based products in the kitchen, including flour. Store larger bags of flour in a garage or some outside, cool location. The insects will develop slowly in the cool temperatures; this will give you time to control the problem. Put products you suspect may be infested in the freezer at the lowest setting for 3-5 days if they are freezable.
For infestations, begin control by a thorough cleanup of the whole kitchen area: behind the stove and fridge, cupboards, shelves, drawers, breadboards, baseboards and all cracks and crevices. Use the vacuum cleaner first and then follow with a washing of all surfaces to get any crumbs and possible eggs laid by the insects. Use any kitchen cleaner. If they are adult insects you want to kill use a household "Raid" type product and wipe the surface areas with soap and water after spraying. Overall, I don't recommend insecticides in the house. Control of insects in your home is best achieve by frequent and thorough cleanings, along with the continued use of sealed containers.
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