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Pantry pests are insects that are in the habit of infesting and contaminating stored foods within warehouses, grocery stores, agricultural crops, and residential houses. Virtually all pantry pests of homes are beetle and moth species that see adult females lay eggs within food packages stored within kitchen cabinets and on pantry shelves. Once these eggs hatch, the emerging larvae rely on the food surrounding them for sustenance while maturing. When mature larvae are ready to pupate, they leave the infested food package in order to search for a proper location to form a cocoon. However, some pantry pest species, such as the Indian-meal moth, remain within food packages during the pupal stage, and it is not uncommon to find adults of some species within food packages. Adult beetles and moths that are categorized as pantry pests may become a nuisance within homes, but it is their larval offspring that infest and contaminate stored foods. The larval offspring of beetles and moths are often referred to as grubs and caterpillars, respectively, and some species establish infestations that are easy to notice, while others are not so easily noticed.

Pantry pests will readily infest, contaminate and feed on just about any type of dry food product, including flour, cake mix, cornmeal, rice, spaghetti, crackers, cookies, dried beans, popcorn, nuts, chocolate, raisins, spices, powdered milk, tea, and cured meats. They will also infest birdseed, dry pet food, plants, garden seeds, and rodent baits. Pantry pests usually infest food packages that have already been opened, but they can also infest food within unopened packages. Pantry pests will either chew into unopened food packages or crawl in through tiny seam-openings. Most pantry pests can create entry holes in food packages that are made from typical materials like paper, cardboard, thin plastic, foil, and cellophane. In many infestation cases, pantry pests multiply within food packages before spreading to additional packages nearby. Pantry pest infestations are usually first noticed when residents find tiny larvae and/or their silk webbing within food products, or when damaged food packages are spotted. Finding small grubs or caterpillars slowly moving on counters, in pantries, in cupboards, on walls and on ceilings in kitchens or adjacent rooms is often the first sign that an infestation has been established. It is also not uncommon for residents within infested homes to find adult moths flying in one or several rooms.

Have you ever found adult moths in your home that you later learned were associated with a pantry pest infestation?