Stored Product Pests

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Stored product pests

There are many bugs that love to eat food. They eat food in the fields where crops are grown and they’ll infest the food when it gets stored away in a silo or storage facility, too. They can even follow that food home and end up right in your pantry or cabinets. These bugs are known as stored product pests. If you own a business that does food preparation, food storage, or food processing, stored product pests that end up in food can cost you money.

These pantry bugs can infest your home or business once they get in, but our specialists will find the infestation, stop the insects that are there, and prevent them from coming back. If you are experiencing stored product pests in your home or business, call Western Exterminator. You can schedule an appointment online or call us at 800-937-8398.

What is a pantry pest

Pantry pests, also commonly referred to as stored product pests, are a group of pests that like to infest whole or processed food. Most of these insects are either some type of beetle or moth. These pests get their name “pantry pest” from the fact that they eat most foods found in your pantry at home. They love to feed on foods like flour, dried fruits, nuts, grains, pasta, cereal, and bread. They can even infest some of your spices.

All four growth stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) of a pantry pest’s development may be present in the food. Eggs, however, are rarely seen because of their small size. Infestations can be recognized during earlier stages of life, but they are more commonly discovered when the adult is flying or crawling across your pantry or kitchen.

Where do pantry pests live?

Pantry pests live and breed in warm, humid environments, which is why they are often found in kitchen cupboards. Most of these species of moth and beetle do not hibernate, so they can reproduce quickly if the infestation is not found.

It is possible for pantry pests to enter your home through tiny cracks and crevices. However, most stored product pests end up in your pantry from an original infestation that took place at the food processing plant, storage facility, delivery vehicle, or grocery store where you purchased your food. You should always inspect your food before you store it or use it. Look for webbing, eggs, any movement within the box or packaging, a live pest itself, or damaged packaging.

Common bugs found in food

There are many different types of pantry pests. Below we have listed out a few of the more common pantry bugs you may find in your home or business. They include:

Cigarette beetles

Overhead view of a cigarette beetle

Quick guide

The cigarette beetle feeds off tobacco, dry stored food products, spices, seeds, grains, and dried plant material. They have also been reported in rice, dried potatoes, paprika, raisins, grain-based mouse bait, and dried strawflowers.

An adult cigarette beetle is about 1/16” to ⅛” in length and its larvae are about ⅛” long and somewhat bent. An adult is whitish in color with a dark brown to tan head. Oddly shaped, a cigarette beetle’s head is bent down nearly at right angles to the body, giving it a hump-backed appearance when viewed from the side.

Flour beetles

Several flour beetles on top of flour

Quick guide

There are a few different species of flour beetle including the rust-red flour beetle, broadhorned flour beetle, and confused flour beetle. Flour beetles are commonly found in grain, flour, beans, cacao, chocolate, cottonseed, shelled nuts, spices, dried fruit and vegetables, and dried milk. Some flour beetles cannot feed on whole-grain foods.

Flour beetles are red-brown in color and anywhere from ⅛” to 3/16” in size. Some species do have wings and can fly, but most rarely do. All species have antennae, but the broadhorned flour beetle has large mandibles on its head giving the appearance of horns.

Grain beetles

Grain beetles on food.

Quick guide

There are a few different species of grain beetle including the flat grain beetle, foreign grain beetle, lesser grain beetle, merchant grain beetle, and sawtoothed grain beetle. Grain beetles primarily feed on grain. Some species of grain beetle prefer oats, wheat, and barley, while others prefer oatmeal, brown rice, cereal, dried fruit, and seeds.

Grain beetles are either dark brown or red in color and measure anywhere from 1/16” to ⅛” in size. They can be identified by their slender, flat bodies.

Indian meal moths

Indian meal moth on a pile of food.

Quick guide

They live in stored food products like spices, seeds, grains, dried fruit, and pet food. In food, the larvae will make a lot of webs and spin together silk and frass. In your pantry, small larvae will climb to other shelves before pupating, sometimes making it hard to find the source of the infestation. Adults are a common sign of an infestation.

Adult Indian meal moths are about ½” long with a wingspan of ⅝”. Their body is mostly grey and brown and their wings are reddish-brown in color with a copper sheen and some grey. Their eggs are in clusters and greyish-white in color. Indian meal moth larvae are off-white and the pupae are pale brown.


Weevils on uncooked rice.

Quick guide

There are a few different species of weevils including the bean weevil, coffee bean weevil, granary weevil, maize weevil, and rice weevil. Depending on the species, weevils will feed on legumes like kidney beans, green beans, peas, or lentils. Other species will infest grain products, like cereal and spaghetti, corn, cocoa, coffee beans, dried fruits, and even ginger.

Species of weevil can be anywhere from 1/16” to 3/16” in length. They are typically brown to black in color. Some species, like the maize weevil and rice weevil, have spots on their back, while others, like the bean weevil and coffee bean weevil, are hairy.

How to get rid of pantry pests

Pantry pests can breed quickly causing an infestation in your pantry that you do not want to have. Follow the tips below to prevent and get rid of stored product pests:

  • Store dry goods in your pantry or cabinets in air-tight canisters or containers.
  • Inspect all of your food before you use it. Look for webbing, the pest itself, or damaged packaging.
  • Dispose of any expired food.
  • Clean your pantry often. Remove all items from the shelves, and vacuum and wipe them down with soap and water, ensuring there are no crumbs left behind.

If you do find a pantry bug, you cannot be so sure that they haven’t already infested other items in your pantry. It’s safest to dispose of any dry goods in cardboard boxes or plastic wrapping, then vacuum and wipe down your pantry with soap water.

Containers of beans and rice in a pantry

Eliminate stored product pests with Western

At Western Exterminator we will figure out what kind of stored product pest is infesting your home or business, and depending on the type of pest you have, we will determine the kind of treatment we need to perform to get rid of them.

We will do everything possible to remove all pantry pests from your home or business. To set up an appointment with a Western Exterminator stored product pest control expert, contact us online or call 800-937-8398.



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