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Pests of stored food products, or “pantry pests,” generally see tiny larvae establish harborages within packaged foods kept within pantries and kitchen cupboards. The infestations established by these pests can be excessively difficult to eradicate due to their tiny size and habit of dispersing throughout kitchens, and in some cases, entire homes. Eliminating these pests requires repeated and thorough cleaning of all known infested areas both before and after professional pest control intervention takes place. The most common pantry pests found infesting homes include Indian meal moths, drugstore beetles, confused flour beetles and red flour beetles. Most pantry pest species see only larval specimens damage and contaminate stored food items, while winged adults often pose a nuisance, but the common sawtoothed grain beetle species sees both adults and larvae infest stored foods. The sawtoothed grain beetle is one of the most commonly encountered pantry pests within homes.

According to a recent nationwide survey of pest control professionals, sawtoothed grain beetles were the most commonly encountered pantry pests within infested homes, with the exception of Indian meal moths and drugstore beetles. The 3 mm long sawtoothed grain beetle adult is brown in color and its flat body allows it to squeeze through extremely narrow access points on food packages, such as folds on cereal boxes and tiny gaps in adhesive sealant. Despite their tiny size, adults can be recognized for their six tooth-like protrusions on either side of their thorax, which helps them break through sealed flaps on food packages. One single adult female deposits anywhere between 25 and 250 white eggs within unopened food packages where larvae emerge within 3 to 5 days in 80 to 85 degree conditions, or 8 to 17 days within 68 to 73 degree conditions. Mature larvae are yellowish-white in color, less than 3 mm in length, and before pupation, they build cocoons out of a mixture of food particles and an oral secretion. Eggs, larvae and adults have been found infesting a variety of foods including cereals, bread, macaroni, dried fruits, nuts, dried meats, and sugar. Food contaminated with these insect pests should be discarded or kept frozen for one week.

Have you ever discovered sawtoothed grain beetles in a packaged food item?