What are Pantry Bugs?

Have you ever opened your pantry or kitchen cabinets to find some uninvited guests crawling around? These little intruders are commonly known as pantry bugs, and they can quickly become a nuisance in our homes. But what exactly are pantry bugs and how do they end up in our food storage areas? In this blog post, we will explore the different types of pantry bugs, their habits, and how to prevent and get rid of them. So if you have ever found yourself wondering “What are Pantry Bugs?” or how to deal with them, keep reading for some useful information and tips. These small but mighty insects can wreak havoc in our pantry, so it’s essential to understand them better and take necessary actions to prevent an infestation.

Natural Pest Control is a method of managing and reducing the population of pests in an environmentally friendly way. This technique involves using natural predators, such as birds or insects, to prey on harmful pests like aphids or caterpillars. It also includes planting companion plants that repel pests and implementing physical barriers like nets or fences to keep pests out. Natural pest control is beneficial because it does not harm the ecosystem and maintains a balance between pests and their natural predators.

Introduction to Pantry Bugs

Pantry bugs are a broad term used to describe various insects that commonly infest our food storage areas such as pantries, cabinets, and shelves. These bugs can contaminate our food, cause damage to packaging, and be a general nuisance in our homes. They can range from tiny mites to larger beetles and moths, but they all have one thing in common – they feed on dry goods found in our pantry. There are several kinds of pantry and flour bugs, unfortunately, and they are all pretty gross. The most common are the confused flour beetle, the red flour beetle and the grain weevil.

what are pantry bugs

Confused flour beetles are dark, almost black – they have six legs and long bodies and they measure between 3 and 6 mm in length.

Red flour beetles have a more reddish color but similar in size, and are able to fly short distances. Yikes!

Grain weevils have long bodies and eight legs and brown color. They can chew through plastic and let themselves into your home.

The Habits of Pantry Bugs

Pantry bugs have various habits, but their main goal is to find a food source and reproduce. These insects can enter our homes through cracks and crevices or by hitchhiking on items like groceries, packaging, or even our clothes. Once they find a suitable environment in our pantry, they will lay their eggs on food items such as flour, cereal, grains, and other dry goods. The eggs hatch into larvae, which then feed on the food until they reach maturity and turn into adult bugs. These adults can live for months and continue to reproduce unless we take action to eliminate them. So, what can we do to prevent and get rid of these pests? Let’s find out in the next section.

what are pantry bugs infographic

What causes pantry bugs?

The primary cause of pantry bug infestations is the unintentional introduction of these pests into our homes. This usually occurs through infested food items purchased from the store. Despite stringent food safety regulations, it’s possible for food products to become contaminated with pantry bug eggs or larvae at any point during the production or distribution process. Once these infested items are brought into the home and stored in the pantry, it provides an ideal environment for the pests to hatch and thrive.

When you are looking at pantry or flour bugs, they are so small it’s hard to tell which kind you have, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. You can get rid of pantry bugs the same way no matter which kind.

You have to remember that pantry and flour bugs don’t go to dirty homes. They just nest wherever they are, so just because you find them in your home it doesn’t mean your home is dirty. Although I promise it can feel like it! I’ve had them twice before and it’s not fun. As long as you take precautions with your grains and flours, you will keep yourself from having to deal with an infestation of pantry bugs.

Apart from purchasing contaminated food, pantry bugs can also enter homes through open doors and windows, or cracks and crevices in walls or the pantry itself. They are attracted to the smell of stored food products, especially grains, cereals, nuts, and dried fruits. Improper food storage, such as not sealing food packages or containers adequately, further exacerbates the problem by making it easier for these pests to access and infest food supplies.

Therefore, understanding the causes of pantry bug infestations is crucial in taking preventive measures, such as inspecting groceries before storage, keeping the pantry clean and tightly sealed, and storing food in airtight containers. These actions can significantly reduce the risk of a pantry bug infestation and save homeowners from the inconvenience and potential health risks associated with these pests.

Here’s a really fun but gross fact about flour beetles:
The adult females lay their eggs in the flour, and about a week later, these eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae look like thick-bodied worms and are yellow in color. They feed on the flour, slowly increasing in size before eventually maturing into adults. (source: Green Leaf Organic Pest Management)

Pantry bugs are gross but they don’t spoil the flour with toxins nor do they bite. So at least there’s that.

What do pantry beetles like to eat?

The list of what flour beetles eat includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • flour
  • pasta
  • cereal
  • corn meal
  • whole wheat
  • oats
  • rye
  • barley
  • rice
  • corn
bay leaf leaves for pantry and flour bugs

How to prevent pantry bugs

  • Inspect all grains when you buy them
  • Freeze grains for at least 1 week (or store permanently in the freezer) to kill any eggs
  • Buy grains in small quantities so they don’t sit for long periods of time
  • Store grains in tightly sealed glass, metal, or hard plastic containers
  • Regularly clean pantry cracks, crevices, and shelves (try this homemade insect repellent spray for the kitchen)
  • My favorite: put 1-2 bay leaves in the containers
  • Whole pepper seeds can work as well, just put them in the corners of your cabinets.

Now I am going to have a look in my cupboards…

Read more about How to Get Rid of Pantry Bugs.

Pantry bugs are a common household pest that can cause significant damage and contamination to our food supplies. Their presence in the pantry is often due to factors such as contaminated food products, inadequate storage practices, and easy entry points into our homes. However, by understanding their habits and taking preventive measures, we can effectively keep these pests at bay.

get rid of pantry bugs
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One Comment

  1. Great post, I didn’t know about peppercorns and bay leaves. As someone who has thrown an entire pantry of grains away, this post hits home.

    I’ve only had a few experiences with pantry bugs and they aren’t pretty. Neither is adding a grain to a dish as you cook, only to see molted skins floating to the top.

    I store all grains in hard plastc or glass and haven’t been bothered.

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