Pantry Pests Could Take Advantage of Stored Food During Pandemic
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reasonable to try and make fewer trips to the supermarket in order to reduce the risk of pathogen transmission. Additionally, a reduction in the availability of many everyday items might prompt the desire to stockpile food in the event of future shortages. Both of these scenarios require a reliance on packaged, processed goods which, unfortunately, are vulnerable to invasion by stored product pests.
Stored product pests are often referred to as ‘pantry pests’ with beetles being the most widespread pantry invader and moths a close second. Initial signs of pantry pest invasion may include beetles crawling in and around food or food storage areas, moths flying throughout the dwelling, or caterpillars crawling on counters and walls. Adult beetles and moths or larvae moving about in packaged foods is also a clear sign of a pantry pest infestation. Luckily, the solutions for eradication are straightforward and easy to execute.
Eliminating a pantry pest infestation requires disposal of all infested items. A thorough inspection of all food storage areas (pantries, cabinets, countertops, etc.) is crucial, because most stored product pests can infest a wide array of foods. Immediately inspect all opened bags and boxes of partially used foods for contamination. Check for rips, tears, and faulty seams/seals on newer food products which may have allowed pests to enter.
Then, dispose of any infested foods identified. After all of the infested food is removed, vacuum cracks and crevices in all of the cabinets and pantries where insect activity was observed. Remove all debris, insect parts, and live insects from the area. Finally, transfer all products packaged in paper, cardboard, plastic bags, and other materials prone to tearing into sealed plastic or glass containers. Do not forget to check and properly store dog food, bird seed, and other less intuitive sources of grain as well. Proper food storage (especially for grains) is crucial in preventing future pest infestations.
Storing processed food during uncertain times is wise. However, it is important to ensure that proper precautions are taken to prevent stored product pests from turning a well-stocked pantry into a private dining room.
Thanks to Cathy Hohenstein, Buncombe County CES, for supplying the images.