Skip to content
What You Need to Know About Pantry Bugs

Pantry pests are very common, and while the thought of bugs in your food is terrible, they do not bite or sting humans, nor are they capable of damaging your kitchen or home.  Good news! You can avoid pantry bugs by taking some simple steps to store food properly. This blog will discuss pantry bugs, what they are, and how to avoid them.

What are the most common pantry pests?

WebMD provided the comprehensive list below. Most people are familiar with many of the pests listed below and the suggestions for dealing with them.

Indian meal Moths

These coppery-winged insects may be the No. 1 invaders in your pantry. Adult moths don’t eat foodstuffs. But their larvae feast on cereal, flour, cornmeal, rice, nuts, dog food, and other dry goods. They spin silk webs that trap their poop, dead skin, and other gross stuff on food surfaces. Use tight-lidded containers to keep them out.


These cousins of termites probably take the title for ickiest pantry pests. The ones you see scurrying when you flip on the light most likely are German cockroaches. They can be hard to stamp out. They can eat rotted food and trash and then contaminate your food and drinks. Their droppings also can set off an allergic reaction in some people. The best way to keep them away is to keep a clean and dry house and your garbage lidded. If you have an infestation, you may need an insecticide.

Sawtoothed Grain Beetles

These tiny, dark insects get their name from the teeth sticking between their head and belly. They can infest your dried fruits, jerky, pasta, seeds, and other staples. If you accidentally swallow them or their eggs, there is no need to panic. Sawtoothed grain beetles aren’t known to carry or spread harmful germs.


You’re most likely to find these yellow caterpillars in a forgotten box or bag of food in your pantry corner. Mealworms love damp, moldy foods, including flour, grains, and birdseed. Seal cracks and crevices in your walls, floors, and windows where the insects can enter and hide.


Pharaoh ants and crazy ants are known for their sweet tooth. Other species, such as rover ants, like meat and protein. Ants can crawl through electrical outlets or wall cracks to reach your kitchen. If you spot them roving your pantry in a single file, one way to banish them is with indoor ant baits. Be sure to sweep up crumbs and other potential food sources.

Drugstore Beetles

These brown flying insects are drawn to light. They feed on dried plant foods, including herbs, spices, macaroni, tobacco, and books. You might see adults buzzing around or notice holes in packages that the beetles chewed through. They can go for weeks without food. Toss all infected foods and thoroughly clean your pantry so the bugs don’t return from hiding.

Rice Weevils

Weevils are a type of beetle that eats plants. These dark brown, winged insects can spoil entire bins of grains. Rice weevils attack more than just rice. They also feed on corn, wheat, cereal, nuts, apples, and pears. At the grocery store, pay extra attention before you bag grains and other bulk items.

Flour Beetles

The two most common species are the red flour beetle and the confused flour beetle. They look similar, but you’re more likely to meet the red flour beetle in your home. The females lay sticky eggs on top of grains, shelled nuts, and other foods. These beetles can make infested food smell and turn moldy. Toss out all tainted foods and vacuum all debris.

How did pantry pests get into my home and food?

In most cases, pantry pests enter your home by ‘hitchhiking’ in an infested food package. Often, consumers purchase large packages from big box stores to save money. However, if they do not consume the food within a few months, the pests feed off the untouched food, and infestation can rapidly occur.

Pantry bugs are not an indication of an unclean kitchen. According to the Food Network, Pests can make themselves at home even in the most spotless kitchen because they often hitch a ride in your food at the grocery store, during delivery, or even way back at the processing plant or warehouse.

Most pantry pests like to munch on grains, like flour, cereals, processed foods, and dried fruits, beans, nuts, and spices — but they’re not picky. Nearly any dried food stored at room temperature can be a draw. Opened packages that aren’t sealed well are especially prime targets because they allow easy entry, but many insects can get into unopened packages.

How can I prevent pantry pests?

A keen eye when purchasing pantry items and diligence in monitoring expiration dates, packaging, and open containers will help prevention, such as:

  • Storing food in containers with tight-fitting lids, not plastic bags.
  • Storing bulk goods like pet food in airtight containers.
  • Keeping certain infrequently used foods like flour, spices, and grains in a freezer if possible.
  • Washing old containers before filling them with new food.
  • Don’t mix old and new food.
  • Cleaning shelves, bins, and other food storage areas regularly.

What should I do if I find pests in my pantry?

Do not attempt to save the food because often you cannot see a small infestation. The University of California Pest Management Program offers some great suggestions:

  • Throw away any food that has even the slightest evidence of infestation.
  • Vacuum corners and crevices of cupboards to get rid of eggs and pupae and wash shelves with soap and water.
  • Pantry pests can live for many weeks without food; continue using pheromone traps to detect pests after the source of the infestation has been removed.
  • Even if you have a large infestation of pantry pests, removing infested material and following the guidelines above will provide effective control.

Still unsure? Empty your pantry completely and vacuum the shelves, floors, and corners. Then, wash the spaces with soapy water — but don’t apply bleach, ammonia, or pesticides. They won’t prevent future infestation and can be dangerous if they come in contact with foods. Before returning food products to the pantry, thoroughly check that each package is undamaged and uncontaminated. (Food Network)

Professional pest control companies can help.

Anytime pests or wildlife encounter people, pets, or your home, expertise is critical. Using pesticides or other means of getting rid of pests can be dangerous.  Contact us for quick service. We give you our word that our services are guaranteed to treat your pest infestations and problems.

Happy Holidays!

What You Need to Know About Pantry Bugs

Resources: University of California Pest Management Program, Food Network, WebMD

Back To Top