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Pantry Beetles: Where They Come From & How to Get Rid of Them

pantry beetles
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Filmbetrachter

Pantry beetles are a small and annoying pest. Learn how to stop the spread of these bugs in your home and get rid of them in a safe and natural way.

Nobody wants to find insects in their food. Pantry beetles might be relatively harmless, but you would still prefer to keep them away from your food storage. The longer these tiny, unwanted guests live in your house, the more food waste they can cause. Throwing away contaminated produce and restocking it can be very expensive. To avoid it, here is everything you need to know about pantry beetles and how to keep them away from your food.

Where Do Pantry Beetles Come From?

Pantry beetles enter our homes with the food we bring.
Pantry beetles enter our homes with the food we bring. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / StockSnap)

Even a spotless pantry might become infested with beetles. Pantry beetles typically enter homes with contaminated products that are bought and brought home. They eat any dried food stored at room temperature, and while opened packages are the easiest target for beetles, they can get into closed packages too.

Various pantry bug species might invade your food storage:

  • Sawtoothed Grain Beetles are most commonly found on cereal, nuts, dried fruit and cookies.
  • Cigarette beetles are oval-shaped and often found near spices and seasonings.
  • Flour beetles normally nest in flour and cereal.
  • Spider beetles have extra-long antennae and can be found in any grain product.

It’s most common to notice beetles crawling in food once they are already adults or in the larval stage because their eggs are too small for us to detect. Note that even if you accidentally swallow some of them with your food, pantry beetles won’t make you sick. But it’s certainly helpful to pick up a few simple tricks for keeping them off your plate.

How to Prevent Pantry Beetles

Bay leaves naturally repel beetles.
Bay leaves naturally repel beetles. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / monicore)

Even if you can’t guarantee that pantry beetles will never enter your house, here are several simple tricks you can adopt to prevent them from spreading.

1. Keep your pantry clean 

Keeping your pantry clean is the best way to prevent infestations. Wipe and vacuum immediately if anything gets spilled in it. Deep clean your pantry every six months.

2. Avoid clutter

Keep your food storage clutter-free, and make sure you use up older produce before restocking. By keeping a simple inventory list, you can reduce food waste and make your pantry less welcoming to pests.

3. Store properly

Store your food in airtight containers and label them clearly to have a good overview of the storage. Invest in high-quality, transparent containers where you can easily spot the beetles.

4. Use natural repellents

Bay leaves serve as a natural pantry beetle repellent. You can keep some dry bay leaves in an open container on a shelf. Also, add a leaf or two to containers with rice, flour and other dry foods. Other natural repellents include clove, rosemary and black pepper. You can bundle them in cheesecloth and scatter them throughout the pantry.

5. Dispose of infested food

If you notice any eggs, webs, larvae or bugs in a package, dispose of the contaminated food immediately. Then examine the remaining packages in bright daylight. If you realize that beetles have already spread throughout your pantry, plan to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Getting Rid of These Pests

Avoid pantry bugs by keeping your space clean.
Avoid pantry bugs by keeping your space clean. (Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Annie Spratt)

Using chemicals near food is never a good idea. You don’t have to make an exception for cleaning your pantry unless you have a severe pest infestation. Here is how you can get rid of pantry beetles in five steps using safe and eco-friendly solutions.

  1. Remove: Remove everything from the pantry, shelf by shelf. Check every can and package, even those that haven’t been opened yet. Use this chance to get rid of everything that’s damaged or expired.
  2. Dispose: Throw away any already contaminated food. Even if you don’t see bugs inside an opened container or package, don’t put it back in the pantry. If you don’t want to waste the food, use it up the same day or store the rest in your fridge.
  3. Clean: Vacuum every shelf and crevice. Remember to empty your vacuum cleaner outside the house. Then wipe everything with warm, soupy water or a simple 50/50 mix of water and vinegar. Avoid using microfiber cloths since they’re not an eco-friendly tool for your cleaning routine.
  4. Repackage: Put all the food you want to keep in airtight containers. Don’t forget to add bay leaves to the foods that pantry beetles enjoy the most.
  5. Restock: Fill the pantry again. Try to avoid clutter and organize your food storage in such a way that nothing gets forgotten.

If you discovered the problem too late and now your pantry has more beetles than food, speak with your local pest control specialists.

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