Bug Blog

How To Recognize Different Pantry Pest Species, And Why Doing So Is Important

Pantry pests are also commonly referred to as pests of stored food products, and they are among the most common of all insect pests of homes. Several insect species, most of which are beetles and moths, are known to infest, and therefore, contaminate stored foods kept within kitchen cupboards and pantries. Adult beetles and moths found within a home may indicate that a pantry pest infestation has been established, but the pests that infest stored foods are actually beetle and moth larvae, which are known as grubs and caterpillars, respectively. According to a recent nationwide survey of pest control professionals, the most commonly controlled pantry pest species within homes are Indian-meal moths, drugstore beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles, confused flour beetles and cigarette beetles. All of these pantry pests are very common within Arizona households, and properly identifying each pantry pest species is essential for eradicating infestations.

Plodia interpunctella, or the Indian-meal moth, is easily the most common pantry pest of homes, and adults of this species can be recognized for their ½ inch to ⅝ inch long wingspan, narrow and tan-colored body, and for the grey marking located at the top and bottom edge of each wing. In most cases, black horizontal stripes can be noticed on their brown to dark brown-colored wings, and they can be found in any area of a home, as well as in infested products. Indian-meal moth larvae, or caterpillars, are around ½ inch long, and they can be recognized for their white worm-like appearance with yellow, pink or brown hues. Only Indian-meal moth grubs infest food products, and infested products contain white-silk webbing.

Oryzaephilus surinamensis, or the sawtoothed grain beetle adult, is reddish-brown, 1/10 of an inch long, flat bodied, slender, and they are identified by their saw-like mouthparts. Grubs of this species are slender, cream colored, and around ⅛ of an inch long. Sawtoothed grain beetles can infest a variety of food products, but they are most often found within packages of dried fruit, cereals, nuts, dried meat, macaroni and seeds. It is important to identify the species of pantry pest found within a home before putting together a control plan, as each species is controlled differently.

Have you ever used pheromone traps to control pantry pests within your home?