Preventing Pests in the Pantry

- National Pest Management Association
Monday, January 14, 2013

I used to think pictures of organized pantries were only circulated to make overly busy moms feel inferior or jealous.  Now that I know pests come into our home searching for food, water, and shelter, I now understand organized pantries with contained food are more than just impressive works of art – they serve an essential role in removing pest buffet opportunities! 

Some of the most common pests we see invading our pantries and cabinets are those that are identified as pantry pests, most notably Indian meal moths and Merchant Grain Beetles and rodents, especially mice.  Most of us shudder at the thoughts of pests being in our kitchen, but their presence near our food is more than just a troubling thought.  Pantry pests can contaminate food products.  Mice can spread Salmonella and Hantavirus.  They can also carry fleas and lice into our homes.  Yuck!

Like with most things in life, prevention is key! A few easy proactive steps you can you can take to make your food storage areas less attractive to pests:

  • Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour, rice and other grains- their pungent scent repels many pantry pests.
  • Only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of damage.
  • Store food in airtight containers. 

This step sounds good but undoubtedly gets put aside by many to do later.  Typical reasons for procrastination surface.  "I don’t know how."  "I will do it later." "I am waiting for a coupon for the right containers." 

Wipe away those excuses.  You can get most of the plastic boxes you need right at the grocery store – extra errand not required.  Or, if you have a little time to look around, you can also have good luck finding these products at yard sales and thrift stores. 

Buy plastic or metal containers in a variety of sizes.  Think about what you keep in your cabinets or pantry that will need to be moved into more permanent containers so you can buy appropriate sizes: Cereal, snacks, dog food, sugar, flour, etc.  For example, I store cereal in plastic containers that will allow the cereal to pour right from the top, making it nice and easy to use. 

Organizing your pantry or cabinets is a once and done project.  Sure, it will take maintenance as your food items change, but purchasing the items and getting your system in place will take the most of the time at the beginning.  Once you start the process, you will find that it’s amazingly easy to uphold.

Not only will you want to include a tour of your impressive pantry to visiting friends but you will take great satisfaction in knowing about the layer of pest protection you are providing for your home!

                 


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