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Watch Out For Stored Product Insects

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

The most common insects people are seeing in their homes now are those that are associated with stored food. The most common species are Indianmeal moths, drugstore beetles, flour beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles, and cigarette beetles. Collectively, they feed on a wide variety of dried food material including, but not limited to, flour, cake and pancake mixes, pasta, and other grain-based products, rice, nuts, spices, dried fruit, and chocolate. They will also attack dry pet food and bird seed.

Jeff Hahn

Photo 1: Cigarette beetles, a common type of stored product insect.

Once you confirm the insects you are seeing are stored product pests, it is important to find the source of the infestation. Removal of the source is ultimately the best control of these insects. Sometimes finding the food source is easy; you open up a bag of flour or some other food package and there they are. However, in other instances, they are not so easily found and you need to make a thorough search to find them. Check all open food packages in your cupboards and other sites where food is stored. Don't forget basements, garages, and other places where dry pet food and bird seed may be stored.

Once you find an infested source, the best action is to throw it away. Keep in mind that there can be more than one infestation source so don't stop once you found one; be sure to check out all places where food is stored. Also store susceptible food, especially if they are not used quickly, in insect-proof containers with tight lids or in the refrigerator. Once all infested food is removed and they can't infest any new food, the insects will eventually go away on their own. Insecticides are not effective, especially if food sources are available to the insects.

For more information see Insect Pests of Stored Food.
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