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There exist many arthropod pests of stored food products in the northeast, including several species of moth, beetle and mite. Pests of stored food products infest pantries and kitchen cupboards where numerous specimens feed on a variety of foods, including grains, nuts, spices, rice, flour and dog food. Most infestations of this sort see larvae invade and contamine stored foods, but adults still maintain a presence within homes. Some of the most commonly encountered pests of stored food products include saw-toothed grain beetles, drugstore beetles, rice weevils and Indian meal moths.

Sawtoothed grain beetles, drugstore beetles and cigarette beetles feed on processed grains, kernels and spices. Cigarette beetles are commonly found infesting dog food, paprika and they also feed on leather materials. Drugstore beetles are most commonly found infesting dog food and paprika as well, but these pests feed on nearly all food products and leather materials found within a home, including bread, flour, breakfast foods, meal and red pepper. Perhaps the most frequently encountered pest of stored foods found within homes is the Indian meal moth, which sees caterpillar larvae feed on dried fruits, powdered milk, chocolate, flour, meal, dried dog food, bird seed and numerous other foodstuffs. Infestations are usually first noticed by a heavy presence of adult specimens on kitchen counters, cupboards and other areas within a kitchen. The larvae that feed on stored food products within pantries are usually too small to be readily seen with the naked eye.

While the presence of adult pests of stored food products within a home is the most common sign of an infestation, killing these arthropods will not get rid of an infestation, as adults do not infest stored foods, but they may be a nuisance indoors. Discarding contaminated food products is the first step to eliminating an infestation, and in most infestation cases, residents discard nearly all pantry food items. Old stored foods that have been pushed to the back of pantry shelves is where most infestations originate, so discarding these items is essential, and regularly throwing out unused stored foods will help to prevent infestations. The presence of stored food pests within pantries and other areas of a home can be monitored with the strategic placing of sticky traps, and if infestations are caught early, sticky traps may eliminate an infestation entirely. Freezing and heating infested stored food products for a period of time will kill all larvae and eggs. Sticky traps that lure pests with pheromones are also effective for monitoring and eradication. Currently, pest control researchers are experimenting with parasitic insects that seek out and eventually kill many arthropod pest species of stored food products.

Have you ever found moths in your pantry?