Keeping Kitchens Pest-FreeMissy Henriksen
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Kitchens have always been a gathering place in the home;
however, there are some unwelcome visitors homeowners would rather
not gather in the place where we store, cook and eat our food –
Cockroaches, rodents, fruit flies and pantry pests can all
easily find their way into kitchens contaminating foods, spreading
bacteria and ruining a “sacred” space in the home.
As many families gear up for the holiday season, which involves
a lot of cooking and baking and leftovers, the National Pest
Management Association reminds homeowners to remember that this is
also the time of year many pests are looking for food and shelter –
often inside houses.
Kitchen Pest Dangers
There may be nothing grosser than a cockroach scurrying into a
corner or under the fridge as you enter the kitchen – and for good
reason. Cockroaches spread 33 kinds of bacteria including E coli
and salmonella, six parasitic worms and more than seven other types
of human pathogens. Additionally, their saliva, droppings and
decomposing bodies contain allergen proteins known to trigger
allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms.
Each winter these sharp toothed, disease-carriers typically
invade 21 million homes in the U.S. bringing with them a slew of
dangers. Mice and rats spread salmonella bacteria and hantavirus,
and they can carry other disease-causing pests, such as ticks,
fleas and lice. Rodents can also chew through wood
and electrical wires increasing the risk of home fires.
Prevention is the name of the game with rodents though because when
they move in, they quickly make themselves at home - a female
mouse can have as many as 12 babies every three weeks!
Contrary to popular belief, these flies do not come from the
interior of the decaying fruit and are not spontaneously “born”
from rotting fruit. Instead, they are able to detect the
yeast produced by fermenting fruit, even from great distances. Once
they have identified an intended target, they have little trouble
getting to it as their tiny size allows them to enter a home
through miniscule cracks and crevices. Most window screens
won’t deter them either.
These insects tend to gather around food often stored in
pantries and cabinets such as flour, dry cereals, spices, candies
and chocolate. Common pantry pests include several types of beetles,
meal moths and ants.
Prevention As a First Line of Defense Against Pests
NPMA recommends the following preventative measures to ensure
your kitchen, pantry and holiday goodies remain pest free.
- Immediately wipe up any crumbs or spills from countertops,
tables, floors and shelves.
- Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage
regularly in sealed receptacles.
- Only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of
- Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like
flour, rice and other grains- their pungent scent repels many
- Check expiration dates on baking ingredients before use.
- If you keep fresh fruit on the counter, check it often for
signs of over-ripening or decay. As female fruit flies lay an
average of 500 eggs on the surface of fermenting fruit, it’s best
to dispose of the fruit in outdoor trash cans to prevent those eggs
from hatching in your indoor trash.
- Run your garbage disposal regularly.
- Don’t let dirty dishes pile up and stand in the sink for long
periods of time.
- Don’t leave pet food and water bowls sit out for long periods
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged
- Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and
- Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home and around
the kitchen, especially around stove and water pipes.
- If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a
licensed pest professional to inspect, identify and treat the