As the weather gets colder and winter approaches, we know the holiday season will soon be upon us. Besides spending time with family, most people will agree one of the very best parts of the holiday season is the food! Many people enjoy spending quiet days at home baking treats for friends, family and neighbors. Unfortunately, there are pest insects out there that can be found in your flour and other baking ingredients that will have you running from your kitchen and keep you from wanting to go back in. These insects are called stored product pests –or pantry pests- and they can be a real nuisance if you love to bake. Keeping these pests out of your home can be pretty simple and there are a few preventative measures you need to take to make sure that your holiday baking season goes smoothly this year!
First, how to know if you have a pantry pest infestation:
You may see full grown Indian meal moths flying out of your kitchen cupboard or pantry. These moths are between 1/4 and 3/8 of an inch long and the front wings are light beige and coppery bronze with pale gray hind wings.
You may see these moths inside your baking goods, including flour, cornmeal, rice, dried fruits, nuts, granola, chocolates and many other things.
The larvae are the damaging culprits. They grow to about 1/2 an inch in length and are usually white with a pink or greenish hue. They feed on your cupboard foods and can render this food inedible. When they are fully grown, they become moths and fly out of your cupboard.
In order to keep these pests from infesting your food goods, there are several things you can do to prevent them:
Store food goods like flour and cornmeal in air tight heavy duty plastic or metal containers.
Examine food items before bringing them home from the store. Make sure that boxes and bags of food are free of holes and if you can see the product, look closely to be sure that there are no insects present.
Regularly clean your kitchen shelves, cupboards and any areas where food is stored with soap and water or with a vacuum.
Don’t mix old and new foodstuffs; be sure to use up an older product before starting a newer one.
Clean storage containers before filling them with fresh food.
Keep your storage units dry; this can discourage the development of pantry pests.
Following all these prevention methods can help make sure that your holiday baking season is merry and bright and without the unnerving presence of pantry pests. Should you find Indian meal moths, other pantry pests, cockroaches or even mice in your St. Louis home: don’t panic! Locate the infested food products and either dispose of them immediately outside of your house, or quickly put the food products into sealable plastic storage bags and pop them into the freezer. This will stop any further development of these pests and you can dispose of them later. Keep an eye on the other food products in your cupboards and be sure to dispose of them immediately if they show any sign of infestation. Following all of these steps should ensure that stored product pests don’t ruin your holiday baking this year and you can enjoy your holidays, free of the kitchen creepy crawlies!