Taking Stock For a Pest Free Pantry

When the holiday season kicks into full swing each year, family and friends gather in kitchens across the country to enjoy their favorite holiday treats. But some uninvited guests may also come to the table. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to thoroughly inspect their kitchens and pantries to avoid pantry pests from spoiling their holiday cheer- or at least their baked goods.

"Pantry pests" are insects known for infesting items often found in pantries, from flour, cereal, nuts, spices and other dry goods to candies and chocolate. These pests can also be found in holiday decorations containing dried flowers or potpourri. The most common pantry pest is the Indian meal moth, although beetles and ants are also problems.

"When the holidays approach, many families dig out baking ingredients from the back of their pantry that haven't been used since the previous year," says Jim Fredericks, technical services director for NPMA. "Over time, these food sources may have attracted pests and food contamination becomes a concern. It's important to thoroughly examine all food products before using them, and discard of any that may have been infested."

NPMA recommends that families follow these tips to ensure a pest-free holiday season:

  • Store food in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers.
  • Pay special attention to pet food, which is a frequent source of pantry pest contamination.
  • Always discard any food past the expiration date on the package or that show signs of pest infestation.
  • Sift through flour, sugar and other ingredients carefully before adding to your recipe.
  • Keep kitchen counters, floors and sinks clean as crumbs and spills quickly attract pests.
  • Routinely clean out pantries and cabinets, checking in corners for signs of pests including fecal droppings.
  • To remediate pest infestations, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect, identify and control the problem.

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