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Common Kitchen Bugs & Insects
For most of us, the kitchen is the heart of the home, filled with love and delicious food. While the appetizing aromas that come from this room can bring together the closest of family and friends, people are not always the only ones that you might find gathering in the kitchen. Pests – including ants, cockroaches, rodents, house flies, fruit flies and pantry pests – can all be found in this part of the house. Learning how to get rid of insects in the kitchen is key to your family’s health and safety.
Kitchen Bugs Identification
Ants in the Kitchen
If ants are found marching one-by-one across the kitchen counter, they are most likely odorous house ants, Argentine ants or pavement ants.
When trying to determine if you have ants in your kitchen, look out for the following characteristics of these home invaders:
- Six legs
- Typically, black, brown, or red (although may be other colors)
- Usually between 1/3” and 1/2” in size
- Small “waist,” large abdomen
All three species mentioned above have ambitious appetites and are attracted to food and moisture, making kitchens an ideal gathering spot. Odorous house ants prefer sweets, while Argentine ants and pavement ants have been known to eat meats, bread, oils and fats. Commonly nesting near moisture sources, ants can be found in wall voids near water pipes and beneath leaky fixtures, including those under the sink.
If the pest in your kitchen match the description above, you likely have ants. However, we recommend contacting a pest control professional to know for certain.
Cockroaches in the Kitchen
Cockroaches are one of the most common kitchen insects and health code violations in restaurants and other commercial kitchens, but they frequently infest household kitchens, too.
Although there are several different cockroach species, they all generally have the following characteristics:
- Typically reddish brown in color
- Oval-shaped bodies
- Usually between 2/3” and 3” in size
- Can move very quickly
- Prefer dark, moist areas
Do the pests in your kitchen match this description? These skilled hitchhikers can make their way into the heart of the home via cardboard boxes, grocery bags and beverage cartons.
Rodents in the Kitchen
Also known to catch the eye of health inspectors, rodents are regular kitchen invaders as well. These are some of the common signs of a rodent infestation:
- Holes chewed through the walls and floor
- Rodent droppings in cabinets, under sink, and near food packages
- Holes or signs of chewing on food packages
- Rodent nets made from material like fabric and shredded paper
House mice and Norway rats are the most common culprits, as they are often enticed by the food and nesting options that kitchens have to offer. If you see any of the rodent infestation signs in your kitchen, contact a pest control professional.
Flies in the Kitchen
Homeowners may also notice house flies and fruit flies in the kitchen.
Although there are many different fly species, the following characteristics are typical of those commonly found in kitchens:
- Often times black, brown, or yellow. But flies can also be other colors, such as green
- Forward-facing, large round eyes
- Typically found near food or trash cans
While house flies feed on a wide variety of human foods, fruit flies, per their name, have a particular appetite for fruits and vegetables. Leaving ripe fruit and vegetables sit out on the kitchen counter is a sure-fire way to invite a family of flies to the table.
Pantry Pests in the Kitchen
Referred to as stored product pests or pantry pests, merchant grain beetles and Indian meal moths tend to gravitate towards kitchen cabinets and pantries due to their particular palates.
Signs of pantry pests in the kitchen include:
- Small bugs in or around cabinets, or on walls or ceilings
- Unpleasant odors or secretions in cabinets
As their name implies, merchant grain beetles are commonly found feeding on grains such as cereals and products containing corn or corn meal. On the other hand, Indian meal moths have a more balanced diet consisting of dried fruits, nuts, and pet food. If you see any of the above signs in your home, or need help identifying an infestation in your kitchen, contact an exterminator.
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Why Insects and Bugs are Attracted to the Kitchen
Bugs love kitchens because they provide three of the essential elements that pests need to survive: food, water and shelter. When the temperature drops, the kitchen becomes a particularly attractive harborage site for pests seeking shelter and sustenance. The abundance of food and moisture in this household area, coupled with the warmth provided by cooking appliances, helps make pests feel right at home in the kitchen. Additionally, cluttered cabinets and trash serve as ideal nesting sites for rodents. Similar to bathrooms, leaky faucets or refrigeration appliances can cause moisture to accumulate, only further beckoning insects to the kitchen.
Tips to Prevent Common Kitchen Insects
The key to keeping pests out of the kitchen is to eliminate their access to food and water sources, which they need to survive. This can be done by practicing excellent sanitation in the kitchen:
- Make sure to wipe up all crumbs and spills on the floor, kitchen counters, cabinets and refrigerator in a timely manner. While a few crumbs on the floor from that chocolate chip cookie may not seem like a big deal, it serves as a delicious feast for an army of ants or family of mice.
- Regularly discard of trash in sealed receptacles and using airtight containers to store food.
- When purchasing food, pay attention to expiration dates and opt for products that come in sealed packaging.
- Keep the kitchen sink clean and free of excess moisture by routinely running the garbage disposal and avoiding leaving dishes piled up for long periods of time.
- Fix leaking pipes and unclog and backed-up drains to further avoid troublesome moisture buildup.
To prevent kitchen bugs from gaining access to the home in the first place, we recommend the following:
- Seal any cracks or crevices around the exterior of the home with a silicone-based caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
- Repair damaged screens and install door sweeps.
Threats Posed by Kitchen Bugs
The insects known to infest kitchens can contaminate food and cause serious health issues if left untreated. House flies have been known to transmit over 100 different pathogens, including typhoid, salmonellosis and tuberculosis. Rodents are particularly troublesome, as they can spread disease, bring fleas into a household, and their urine can trigger allergic reactions in children. Cockroaches, arguably the kings of the kitchen, can trigger allergic reactions while also spreading seven human pathogens, six parasitic worms and 33 different kinds of bacteria.
How to Get Rid of Insects in the Kitchen
Wondering how to get rid of insects in the kitchen? If you find any pests in the kitchen or suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional. A qualified professional will conduct a kitchen inspection to identify the source of the problem and recommend a proper course of treatment. He or she will look for moisture accumulation from leaky pipes, signs of pest damage to food products in the pantry and more.