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Pantry Pests

Below is a table describing pantry pest varieties in Delaware that you may wind up seeing in or around your home at some point. The table will help you identify and learn about control methods for removing them from your property.

Species What size & color are they? How do you tell them from other insects? Where are they found in the house? What do they eat? How should you inspect? What can the homeowner do? What should the professional do?
INDIAN MEAL MOTH Wingspan about 5/8 - 3/4 inch. Front wing reddish brown with a coppery luster. IMM produce a lot of webbing in their food source. Where food is stored -- usually the pantry and the kitchen. Where children's "macaroni art" is stored -- perhaps the attic or closet. Where pet food is stored -- the garage or utility room. Everything. All pantry foods: grains, cereal, chocolate, candies, powdered milk, dog food, bird seed, crackers, dried fruits, cornmeal, seeds & nuts. If adult moths are found flying about the kitchen, look for larvae and webbing in pantry foods. Remove & dispose of infested foods. Keep all pantry foods and pet foods in tightly sealed containers or in the freezer/ refrigerator. Larvae will pupate in cracks & crevices in the pantry & adult moths will continue to appear until the infestation is eliminated. Be patient. No insecticides should be applied for IMM in the pantry unless the professional needs to treat the cracks and crevices to control emerging adults and any larvae that are searching for a pupation site. Insect Growth Regulators and pyrethroids can be used for this purpose. Pheromone traps can be used to monitor for IMM.
 
FLOUR BEETLE About 1/8 inch long. Reddish brown in color The Flour Beetle may be confused with Anobiidae Beetles. Flour Beetles are long & thin compared with Anobiidae Beetles. Flour Beetles are poor flyers and adults will usually be seen crawling rather than flying. In flour. These beetles are unable to feed on whole grain. Flour. If adult beetles are found crawling about the kitchen, look for larvae and adults in flour. Remove & dispose of infested flour. Keep flour in tightly sealed containers or in the freezer/ refrigerator. No insecticides should be applied in the pantry unless the professional needs to treat the cracks and crevices to control stray adults. Insect Growth Regulators and pyrethroids can be used for this purpose.
 
ANOBIIDAE BEETLE: DRUGSTORE BEETLE CIGARETTE BEETLE 1/16 - 1/8 inch long. Reddish brown in color There are 3 Anobiidae Beetle pests in homes. These two are pantry pests. The third is an extremely damaging wood-boring pest (Powder Post Beetle). They all look alike. You must determine which Anobiidae Beetle you have by searching for the source of infestation. You may need to obtain a positive ID. Where food is stored -- usually the pantry and the kitchen. Where children's "macaroni art" is stored -- perhaps the attic or closet. Where pet food is stored -- the garage or utility room. Everything. All pantry foods: grains, cereal, bread, flour, spices, dog food, bird seed, crackers, cornmeal, seeds & nuts, as well as items made of hair, horn and leather. These beetles are strong flyers and will fly to light. You may find them at windows. Any Anobiidae at a window may be a pantry pest or may be a Powder Post Beetle. You must search for the source of infestation to determine which you have. If adult beetles are found at windows, inspect stored foods for adult beetles. If you can not find an infestation, call your Pest Management Professional who will decide if you have a pantry pest or Powder Post Beetles. If you find infested foods, dispose of infested foods. Keep all pantry foods and pet foods in tightly sealed containers or in the freezer/ refrigerator. No insecticides should be applied in the pantry unless the professional needs to treat the cracks and crevices to control stray adults. Insect Growth Regulators and pyrethroids can be used for this purpose.
 
DERMESTID BEETLES 1/16 - 1/8 inch long. Color depends on the species. The Furniture Carpet Beetle is spotted yellow, black and white. Other species are black and rust or plain black. The larvae of Dermestid Beetles are covered with numerous hairs. You often find the cast skin left in their food source. Some Dermestid Beetle species are pantry pests and some species are fiber pests. Where food is stored -- usually the pantry and the kitchen. Where pet food is stored -- the garage or utility room. Species that are fiber pests will be in rooms with the infested fabric, such as wool rugs. Both fabric and pantry Dermestid Beetles eat almost anything of organic origin: grains, seeds, cereals, cocoa, dried milk, fishmeal, dead insects, dried meats, cheese, pet food, hides, feathers, horns, hair, furs, leather, and wool. If you find cast skins with numerous hairs, you have Dermestid Beetles. Any Dermestid Beetle may be a pantry pest or may be a fiber pest. You must search for the source of infestation to determine which you have.. When you find the source of infestation, if it is a pantry pest, dispose of the infested food. Keep food in tightly closed containers or in the refrigerator/ freezer. If the Dermestid is a fiber pest, you may need professional help. No insecticides should be applied in the pantry unless the professional needs to treat the cracks and crevices to control stray adults. Insect Growth Regulators and pyrethroids can be used for this purpose. Infested fabric items may be washed or dry cleaned. Pesticides may stain natural fiber rugs and Oriental carpets.


Original Publication Date:

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.

Disclaimer: Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by University of Delaware Cooperative Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

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