Little Black Bugs in Your Pantry? Moths in Your Kitchen?

You likely have an infestation of what is a broad category of insects known as “Pantry Pests”. Here is what you need to know and what you can do about it.

Pantry Pests are typically varieties of beetle such the Grain Beetle, the Flour Beetle, and famously the Weevil. However, the Indian Meal Moth is also a type of pantry pest and is very common on the Treasure Coast. These pests damage food and cause spoilage that can become expensive. Though it is possible for them to spread disease by contaminating food, it is generally considered rare. Pantry pest beetles are generally very small, about the size of a grain of rice, brown to black color, and will likely be in near proximity to food. Indian Meal Moths are very small brown moths with a light-colored band across their wings just behind the head.

These pests typically enter homes though the food upon which they feed, having hitched a ride originally from the packing facility. These are generally grain products such as rice, bread, and pasta. Other products such dog food, chocolate, and nuts can also carry these insects. It’s also common for bird owners to have problems with pantry pests, particularly Indian Meal Moths, the bird seed being the source of the problem. Usually these pests enter homes as microscopic eggs or larva and develop into adults inside cupboards and food storage areas. As unpleasant the thought of beetle and moth eggs on our food may be, there is little homeowners can do to prevent this. That said, here are two things homeowners can do to prevent beetles, weevils, and Indian Meal Moths from developing into adults and infesting your kitchen.

  • Avoid storage for long periods of time. If little black bugs have started to appear in your pantry or kitchen, check to see if you have old rice or pasta in the back of a drawer or cabinet you may have forgotten about. Most pantry pests take at least a month to develop from egg to adult and in the relatively cooler and dryer environment inside of a home, this process can take much longer. Storing the kind of foods weevils feed on – cereal, rice, and grains in general – beyond 30 days drastically increases the chances of infestation. Snowbirds and seasonal residents to Florida in particular should take care not to store these kinds of products in their home while they are away for the summer.


  • If avoiding storage for extended periods of time isn’t preferred of feasible, there is a second option for preventing weevil and meal moth infections – freezing. Many people prefer to buy their groceries in bulk. This presents an exceptional opportunity for pantry pests to develop. That said, homeowners do no need to resign themselves to pantry pest problems. If buying grain based products in bulk, freezing the food for 24 hours is sufficient to kill not only beetles and moths themselves, but any eggs that may be present.
Extremely close frontal view of a Weevil a type of insect in the beatle family
Once prevention is no longer an option and you’re already finding weevils, beetles or moths inside your kitchen or cupboard area, the first thing you should do is find the source of the problem and remove it from the home. You may have to dig deep into the back of drawers and shelves to find it, but there will almost certainly be a forgotten open container of food somewhere. Once that has been removed, it would be advisable to remove any other open food as the beetles and other pests may have already laid eggs in it as well. When eliminating weevils, grain beetles, or Indian meal moths, anything unopened should be thrown out or frozen for 24 hours.

Finally, once all potential sources of food have been removed, it may be wise to call a professional exterminator to eliminate the remains bugs, allowing new food to be brought in without risking infestation. A pest control technician may use a variety of products to achieve control, from standard spray chemicals, to products called Insect Growth Regulators to prevent eggs and larva present in cabinets and shelving from developing further in their life cycle. In the case of Indian Meal Moths, sticky glue traps laced with pheromones used to attached them can be used very effectively to achieve control and without exposing residents to chemicals. Green Pest Services, LLC in Port St Lucie is experienced in pantry pest treatments and control. GPS can effectively and affordably exterminate pest problems in a way that is safe for pets and children. If you have a pest problem in Port St Lucie, Palm City or Stuart, contact Green Pest Services for a free quote and a fully guaranteed service.

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