Stored product pests infest and damage a wide variety of organic materials. Whereas much of the damage usually occurs in storage, infestations may originate where the materials are produced or processed, during shipment, in storage, or in the area of use.
Nearly all of these numerous species of pests have been imported into Canada from Europe and Asia, some of them through the United States. Most have become distributed throughout the country by the transport of infested products. Once established in a building or storage facility, they can damage a commodity by lowering its nutritive value, and by creating conditions suitable for the growth of destructive molds.
Many of the insects and mites which infest stored products have a world-wide distribution. Most are small, light-avoiding and rapidly breeding pests that have become specialized for feeding on dried plant and animal products. In general, high temperatures and humidity allow for the rapid development of infestations.
Stored products pests can be classified by the foodstuffs or materials that they usually infest, these are stored grain pests, processed food pests, fabric pets, etc. Some pests, however, feed on a variety of foodstuffs and, therefore, are difficult to classify.
Commonly the existence of an infestation becomes apparent when the pests are observed crawling or flying about. Specific identification is necessary. Usually this will suggest where to look for the infested materials and the type of control measures that should be applied.
Stored-product pests like grain weevils, Indian meal moths or saw-toothed and merchant grain weevils thrive on grain, bran, rice and flour. These hungry pests can cost a mill, bakery, food processing facility or restaurant thousands of dollars in contaminated product. Even worse, they can jeopardize a company’s compliance with government regulations, potentially stopping operations altogether. One reason stored-product pests can cause so much damage is that they contaminate much more than they eat, meaning even a small infestation can have a significant impact on final product output.
Don’t let stored-product pests take a bite out of your business – contact Orkin for a free consultation and we’ll help you recognize and prevent stored-product pests before they impact your bottom line.
Types of Stored Product Pests
Indian Meal Moths are the most common pantry pest. These insects feed on a large variety of stored food products, (but an infestation will often start with pet food or birdseed). An infested product will have a silk webbing and frass near its surface. A sticky pheromone trap available in stores will attract male moths and help identify areas of high activity.
Dermestid and Trogodema Beetles are found in flour, cereals, candy, cocoa, cookies, corn meal, nuts, pasta and dried spices.
Only the larvae feed on food. Some species of this beetle such as carpet beetles will also eat fabric, meaning infestations can spread from food to clothing and have costly and damaging consequences.
Sawtoothed Grain Beetles prefer processed food products like bran, chocolate, oatmeal, sugar and macaroni. These pests can burrow their way right through boxes and packaging, putting other sealed foods at risk for infestation.
Cigarette and Drugstore Beetles Beetles love pet food, spices, tobacco and packaged food. These brown beetles can also chew through packaging, making them even more pestering to deal with.
Flour Beetles love flour along with cracked grains, baking mixes, beans, peas, dried fruits, nuts, chocolate and spices.
Granary and Rice Weevils will get into your whole grains or seed such as popcorn, birdseed and nuts. They have a distinctive snout projecting from the head of their reddish-brown bodies. You can identify grains damaged by weevils if they are hollow with small holes.
Spider Beetles resemble small spiders and like to eat grains, seeds, dried fruits, meats, wool and hair. They are attracted to grain products that are old, moist and sometimes moldy, and often accompany rodent infestations.
Though unappetizing, most pantry pests do not transmit pathogens. They do damage food products and some can ruin clothing, wool and furs. Taking a few precautions will help protect your pantry and home from these pests, ensuring that your snacks are only enjoyed by you and your family.
- Use plastic or glass containers with secure lids to keep stored foods dry and make pests easier to spot.
- Periodically clean your pantry and cupboards, discarding expired items and checking older items for signs of pests.
- Inspect groceries for pests before bringing them into your home. Do not purchase any packages that show signs of damage and clean fruits and vegetables before storing them.
- Check your pantry for cracks and crevices where pests may enter and seal any openings.