Keep Pantry Pests Out Of Your Plans This Holiday

When the holidays arrive, they bring with it many favorite tastes and sights of the season. Before putting the next pumpkin pie in the oven, though, homeowners should be on the lookout for uninvited pests that can cause unexpected problems with holiday meals and decorations.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), Indian meal moths, part of a group of insects referred to as "pantry pests," can infest common kitchen pantry items such as flour, dry cereal, spices, candies and chocolate. These insects are also attracted to dried flowers and potpourri, which make holiday decorations another susceptible breeding ground for home infestations.

Bats and rodents can also pose real threats to the health of a homeowner and his or her family. The accumulation of their feces can spread bacteria and viruses. Once this accumulated mass becomes dry, it can be hazardous to those who breathe it in.

"Indian meal moths are the most common type of pantry pest found in stored food products," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "Although these pests may not directly cause disease or damage homes, Indian meal moths can contaminate food and quickly infest homes."

Female Indian meal moths are able to lay up to 200 eggs in or near a food source in one week, leading to severe infestations in a short amount of time. NPMA offers the following tips to help homeowners keep holiday plans running smoothly:

  • When shopping, purchase sealed packages that have no signs of damage.
  • Use pantry items before the expiration date.
  • Keep cabinets, pantries and counters clean and free of crumbs.
  • Store food in plastic or glass containers with secure lids.
  • Store seasonal decor including dried foliage, potpourri and Indian corn in airtight containers during off seasons and unpack these decorations outside prior to displaying them inside the home.
  • If you suspect you have an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the problem.