Keep Ants Out of Your Cabinets This Holiday Season!
As the holiday season kicks into high gear, families prepare their cupboards–and their bellies–for the coming feasts. From sugar cookies and gingerbread houses to casseroles and breads, many people stock their pantries in anticipation of all the cooking and baking. If you’re not careful, however, you might have some unwelcome guests try to join in the holiday cheer: pantry pests. But don’t despair! We’re here to help you keep ants, grain beetles and other bugs out of your cabinets!
What are Pantry Pests?
Pantry pests, or stored product pests, are attracted to the food usually stored in pantries or cupboards. Many types of insects fit into this category, including pillbugs, earwigs, and ants, but the two most common pantry pests are sawtoothed grain beetles and Indian meal moths. While these insects aren’t toxic to humans or animals, they can contaminate food– and dampen your hungry holiday spirit (and no amount of holiday “spirits” will reignite your appetite).
Sawtoothed grain beetles are dark brown, flat, and can grow to ⅛ of an inch long. They have six saw-shaped teeth on each side of their body. Indian meal moths are oval shaped and copper-colored on the outer part of their wings, have six legs, and can grow to ⅝ of an inch long. Both of these pests are found throughout the U.S.
What do Pantry Pests Like to Eat?
Sawtoothed grain beetles typically enjoy cereals, pastas, cookies, chocolate, and cake mixes. Indian meal moths prefer dried fruit, grains, nuts, seeds, dog food, powdered milk, and candy.
In some cases, pantry pests can also be attracted to dried flowers and potpourri, making holiday decorations a popular place for infestation.
How Can You Prevent Pantry Pests?
- Proper Storage: make sure your food is properly stored in plastic or glass containers with secure, tight-fitting lids.
- Inspect and Check: At the grocery store, inspect packaging and expiration dates before putting anything in your cart. At home, make sure you’re not using expired goods.
- Clean Up After Yourself: Don’t let spills sit out on the floor or the counter, and regularly dispose of garbage.
- Store Seasonal Decor: decorations such as dried flowers, potpourri and Indian corn should be stored in airtight containers and unpacked outdoors.
- Try a Bay Leaf: Add a bay leaf to containers of dry foods such as rice, flour, or grains. The pungent smell should repel many bugs.
As always, if you need help with a pantry pest invasion, feel free to give Graduate a call so you can properly enjoy the season’s eatings!