PANTRY PEST IDENTIFICATION
What’s a Pantry Pest?
There are many types of pantry pests
Beetles, and moths have three stages in their development: egg, larva and adult whereas the weevils have three: egg larva and adult. All stages may be present in the food, but the eggs are so tiny they are seldom seen. The larval stage is most destructive, but the adult stage is most often seen. When these pests become a nuisance our Pantry Pest Service will exterminate them all.
What to look for
The most common pests that infest boxed or bagged foods are listed below.
INDIAN MEAL MOTH
Plodia interpunctella (9mm) Food: Grain and grain products, dried fruits, seeds, crackers, nuts, powdered milk, candies, dried red peppers, dry pet food, meal, cracked corn. Larvae of the Indian meal moth spin a web as they grow and leave behind silken threads wherever they crawl. When fully grown, the larva is about 1/2 inch long and white with a greenish or pinkish hue. This larva spins a silken cocoon and transforms into a light-brown pupa, from which the adult moth later emerges. During warm weather, the Indian meal moth takes about six to eight weeks to complete egg, larval, and pupal stages.
Lasioderma serricorne (2-3 mm) Food: Rice, ginger, raisins, pepper, dates, seeds, spices, dried flowers and other dried botanicals.The cigarette beetle lays its eggs in the food substance. The small yellowish-white grubs are covered with long, silky, yellowish-brown hairs and are about 1/6 inch long when fully grown. The pupae are within a closed cell comprised of small particles of the food substance cemented together with a secretion from the larvae. The period from egg to adult is about six weeks.
Stegobium paniceum (2.5 mm) Food: Dry pet foods, flour, meal, cereals, spices, pepper. The drugstore beetle lays eggs in almost any dry organic substance. After hatching, the small white grubs tunnel through these substances and, when fully grown, pupate in small cocoons. The entire life cycle may take place in fewer than two months.
CONFUSED FLOUR BEETLE
Tribolium confusum (4.5-5 mm) Food: Flour, cereals, meal. Adult beetles have shiny reddish-brown bodies that are about 1/7 inch long, flattened, and oval. This beetle does not fly. Their average lifespan is about one year, but some have been known to live almost four years. The females lay their small white eggs loosely in flour or other food material. The eggs, which are coated with a sticky secretion, become covered with flour or meal and readily adhere to the sides of sacks, boxes, and other containers. The confused flour beetle received its’ name due to confusion over its identity, as it is very similar to the red flour beetle. Often mistaken for the red flour beetle, it differs in that it’s origin is African, it does well in cooler climates and its antennae end is gradually club-like and has 4 segments. These beetles are primarily found in the northern United States.
RED FLOUR BEETLE
Tribolium castaneum (4.5 – 5 mm) Food: Flour, cereals, meal. Adult beetles have shiny reddish-brown bodies that are about 1/7 inch long, flattened, and oval. Its antennae end in a three-segmented club. This beetle has the ability to fly, but rarely does so. Their average lifespan is about one year. The females lay their small white eggs loosely in flour or other food material. The eggs, which are coated with a sticky secretion, become covered with flour or meal and readily adhere to the sides of sacks, boxes, and other containers. This beetle is from Indo-Australian origin and in the United States is found most prominently in the southern states.
SAWTOOTHED GRAIN BEETLE
Oryzaephilus surinamensis (2.5 mm) Food: Cereals, pasta, flour, meal, nuts, cracked seeds, seed dust. This beetle is slender, flat, and brown with six saw like tooth projections on each side of the thorax, the section between head and abdomen. The sawtoothed grain beetle has rather small and a large area just behind the eyes. The adult beetles live an average of 6 to 10 months, but some individuals may live as long as 3 years. The female beetle drops her eggs loosely in food material or tucks the eggs into a crevice in a kernel of grain. When the small, slender, white eggs hatch, the emerging larvae crawl and begin actively feeding. They become fully grown in about two weeks then construct delicate cocoon like coverings by joining together small grains or fragments of foodstuff with a sticky secretion. Within this cell, the larva changes to the pupal stage.
MERCHANT GRAIN BEETLE
Oryzaephilus mercator (2.5 mm) Food: Cereals, pasta, flour, meal, nuts, cracked seeds, seed dust slender, flat and brown, this beetle has saw like projections on its thorax just like the sawtooth beetle. Its’ eyes are rather large and it has a small space behind them. The adults live an average about 6 to 10 months. The female drops her eggs in food material or tucks them into a crevice in a kernel of grain. When the small, slender, white eggs hatch, the larvae begin crawling and feeding. They become fully grown in about two weeks during summer weather. They construct delicate cocoons by joining small grains or fragments of foodstuff with a sticky secretion. Within this cocoon, the larva changes to the pupal stage. Development from egg to adult may take from three to four weeks in summer.
Sitophilus oryzae (2.1 – 2.8 mm) Food: Whole grains, rice, corn, millet, rye, beans, bird seed, and caked meal. The adults are around 2 mm long with a long snout. The body color appears to be dark brown to black, but on close examination, four orange/red spots are arranged in a cross on the wing covers. Adult rice weevils are able to fly, and can survive for up to two years. Females lay 2-6 eggs per day and up to 300 over their lifetime. The female uses strong mandibles to chew a hole into a grain kernel after which she deposits a single egg within the hole, sealing it with secretions from her ovipositor. The larva develops within the grain, hollowing it out while feeding. It then pupates within the grain kernel and emerges 2–4 days later.
If you see little moths flying around or open a package of food such as cereal and see little bugs crawling around, you have pantry pests. By the time these insects are noticed, they have spread to more than one food package. The Indian meal moth is the only major species of moth that commonly infests stored food but there are several species of beetles that may infest the foods in your pantry or cabinets.
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