Sunday, 23 September 2012

Pantry Bugs - and some tips on how to avoid them

The responses to my last post reminded me of an incident that happened to me not so long ago. I had purchased some semolina, and being the pedantic housewife that I am, after opening the packet I decanted the contents into a airtight container. The next time I went to use some, I opened the lid only to find lots of little brown bugs crawling around inside. EWWWW! The seal on the container was as tight as a fish's bum, so how the hell did they get in there? And, there's not a cut-out handle in my kitchen to be seen!!!

I tossed the whole lot in the bin, emptied out the entire pantry, gave it a thorough clean-out and put everything back in. Now I don't want to cause any alarm, but did you know most infestations in pantries are not caused from pests entering from the outside, but rather they (or their eggs or larvae) are already inside the food packaging! Yes, that's right - I kid you not. The eggs eventually end up hatching inside the packet and away they go.

Items most likely to be infested with pantry pests include grains, flours, cereal, dried fruit and nuts, biscuits, herbs and spices. Also they can be found in dry pet food.

So with that in mind, here are my hints on how to prevent infestations in the first place:

  • Don't buy food that is out of date.
  • Don't buy nuts, dried fruit or other food that's sold loose from open containers.
  • Don't buy food that is in damaged, dirty or dusty packaging.
  • Freeze the items mentioned above for a couple of days to kill-off anything that may already be inside the packaging before placing them into your pantry. (I'm going to make a point of doing this from now on, particularly with organic foodstuffs which are not fumigated.)
  • Once the package has been opened, store the contents in an airtight container.
  • Clean up any spills in your pantry promptly.
  • Apparently bays leaves placed randomly on the shelves will deter some pests.

If, however, you do encounter an infestation:

  • Empty out the pantry and wipe it down with a diluted bleach solution.
  • Leave the doors open to allow the shelves to thoroughly dry out.
  • Carefully inspect and throw away all infected food (not in the kitchen bin; chuck it straight outside into the wheelie bin.)
  • Use traps or baits.
  • Ensure that all gaps (particularly where there is pipework, eg under the kitchen sink) are well sealed.
Have you ever had an infestation, and what do you do about it?


  1. Ewww!
    I am such a wuss about bugs!
    I think in part it is because in the States...or at least in New England...we seem to not have as many bugs!
    We certainly do not have pantry moths!
    We had an infestation when we first moved into our place...I did exactly what you suggested...a big clean, a big throw out and then I put everything in airtight containers and scattered Envirosafe Pantry Moth Traps everywhere!
    So far, the moths have remained at bay!

  2. Pantry bugs are the most annoying insect. They are destructive also. I hate them very much. Always I am aware of removing pantry moth from my house. Thanks @Caroline for your nice article.

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