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Pantry pests, a.k.a. stored product pests, can overtake your pantry causing your food to be unusable for consumption which can be devastating in commercial food storage and production environments.

Indian Meal Moths

indian meal moth infesting a vero beach grocery store

What do Indian meal moths look like?

Indian meal moths are approximately ½” long when at rest, with a wingspan of 3/4”.  These dark colored moths lay their eggs in food and grain products and spin webbing and around the food that they have infested.  Of all of the pantry pests, the Indian Meal Moth is the most widespread and most destructive.

When are Indian meal moths most active?

Indian meal moths are most active at night when they are flying around looking for a suitable place to lay their eggs.

What attracts Indian meal moths?

Adult Indian meal moths are attracted to lights when they fly at night. 

Where are you likely to find Indian meal moths?

In a farming or commercial setting, you are most likely to find the Indian Meal Moth in any stored grain. In your home, you are likely to find them in any stored dry foods. Indian meal moths prefer grain, but they will infest and eat the following:

  • Seeds

  • Dried fruit

  • Dog good

  • Spices

  • Dried pasta

  • Bird feed

Are Indian meal moths dangerous or destructive?

Adult Indian moths are destructive to stored products because they lay their eggs in the dried food or on the container, and thus rendering them inedible.  Larvae cause the most direct damage to the dried food.  They feast on it, and thus consume, damage and contaminate it.  In a farm setting, this can also alter the weight and moisture levels in the food.  The only danger that they pose is the contamination of the foods that they infest.

Mediterranean Meal Moth

black and gray mediterranean meal moth in stuart fl

What do the Mediterranean meal moths look like?

Mediterranean meal moths are pale gray with black wavy lines on their wings, about 3/4” long and have a wingspan of about 1”.  A distinct characteristic of these moths is a certain pose that they take when an adult is at rest. An adult Mediterranean meal moth will extend its forelegs and raise its head, which gives it a sloped appearance.  This pose is actually quite helpful in identifying these moths from other meal moths.  Their larvae are off-white or pink with a dark head and are about 1/2” at full growth.

When are Mediterranean meal moths most active?

The adult Mediterranean meal moth is most active at night.

What attracts Mediterranean meal moths?

The Mediterranean meal moths are attracted to lights.

Where are you likely to find Mediterranean meal moths?

In a residential setting, Mediterranean meal moths are most likely to be in or around pantry areas.  They can be discovered in stored dried foods such as:

  • Dried whole grains

  • Flour

  • Cereal

  • Pet food

  • Dried fruits

  • Chocolate

  • Dried beans

In a commercial or farming setting, they are most likely to be around the dried food storage area or near the processing equipment.

Are Mediterranean meal moths dangerous or destructive?

Mediterranean meal moths are both dangerous and destructive in the sense that they damage and infest dry storage food, contaminating it and making it unsanitary for consumption and sale. 

Angoumois Grain Moths

small gold colored angoumois grain moth found in jupiter fl

What do the angoumois grain moths look like?

Angoumois grain moths are tiny buff-colored moths that have a wingspan of 3/16”.  Their larvae are a light yellow with a buff-colored head and are about 1/8” long. 

When are angoumois grain moths most active?

Angoumois grain moths are mostly seen during the warmer months of the year.  During the day, they usually cling to ceilings and walls and come out at dusk.

What attracts angoumois grain moths?

Angoumois grain moths are attracted to whole grains, corn and light.

Where are you likely to find angoumois grain moths?

Angoumois grain moths are most likely to be found out in the corn and grain fields and not in homes.

Are angoumois grain moths dangerous or destructive?

Angoumois grain moths are destructive to the grains of wheat and the kernels of corn.  The adults lay their eggs on the kernels and grains. When the eggs hatch, the larvae actually bore into the wheat germ and corn kernel and devour it. 

Sawtooth Grain Beetles

tiny sawtooth grain beetles infesting a south florida home

What do sawtooth grain beetles look like?

Sawtooth grain beetles are small (1/10” long), flattened, reddish-brown beetles, whose most recognizable feature is the six saw-like projections on each side of their thorax (the middle part between their head and wing covers).

When are sawtooth grain beetles most active?

They are more active during the warmer summer months.

What attracts sawtooth grain beetles?

Sawtooth beetles are attracted dry stored products.  Their unique “saw-like” features on the sides of their bodies make it possible for them to gain entrance into paper, cardboard boxes, through cellophane, plastic, and foil wrapped packages.

Where are you likely to find sawtooth grain beetles?

Sawtooth grain beetles are most likely to be found in any place the grows, processes or stores dried foods. 

Are sawtooth grain beetles dangerous or destructive?

Like most pantry pests, sawtooth grain beetles are both dangerous and destructive at the same time because they contaminate and infest stored dry food products making them unsanitary and inedible.  This can cost the consumer and the producer of the wasted food.

Granary Weevil

granary weevils infesting rice in a lake worth fl grocery store

What do the granary weevils look like?

The granary weevil, a.k.a. the grain weevil is a tiny (1/8” long) reddish-brown beetle whose head is prolonged with a very distinct snout extending downward.  Even though they are winged, they cannot fly.  

When are granary weevils most active?

While granary weevils are a year-round concern for Florida, they are more active and predominant in the warmer summer months.

What attracts granary weevils?

Granary weevils are attracted to open containers of stored dry food products.

Where are you likely to find granary weevils?

Granary weevils are most likely to be found in and around any place that stores or processes grains and corn.  Since they are unable to fly, they will travel with the grains after they have been processed.

Are granary weevils dangerous or destructive?

Granary weevils are a destructive pantry pest because they develop as larvae within the grain kernels and then travel along with it.  Entire grain bins, stores or pantries can be infested. 

Cigarette Beetle

What do the cigarette beetles look like?

The cigarette beetle is an oval shaped, small (1/10” long), yellowish-brown beetle.  They are covered with tiny hairs that seem to give them a ‘silken’ look.  They are surprisingly good flyers for having one pair of wings.

When are cigarette beetles most active?

Cigarette beetles are most active during the early evening hours and cloudy days.  During the day, they hide in dark, secluded places. 

What attracts cigarette beetles?

Cigarette beetles are attracted to light and their most favored food is tobacco and tobacco products. 

Where are you likely to find cigarette beetles?

Cigarette beetles have been dubbed as the most damaging pest of stored tobacco. Naturally, you will most likely find them anywhere where tobacco or tobacco products are grown, processed or stored.  While tobacco is their preferred food source they will infest other products like:

  • Flours

  • Dry mixes

  • Dates

  • Cereals

  • Raisins

  • Dried fruits

  • Nuts

  • Rice

  • Dry dog food

  • Coffee beans

  • Spices

  • Herbs

  • Cocoa

Are cigarette beetles dangerous or destructive?

Cigarette beetles and their larvae cause direct damage to non-food items such as tobacco, tobacco products, containers, cardboard boxes and packaging making the food products involved unsanitary.

Mealworms

mealworms found in southern florida

What do mealworms look like?

Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle.  They are worm-like in appearance and have a firm body that allows them to burrow.  They are 1/2-3/4” long and their color changes from white to tan. As they mature, they develop stripes. 

When are mealworms most active?

Mealworms and the mealworm beetle are both nocturnal, but they can be active during the day.  

What attracts mealworms?

These decomposing specialists are attracted light and areas that have moist decomposing materials like:

  • Decomposing animals

  • Decomposing/dead plants

  • Mulch

  • Grains

  • Seedlings

Where are you likely to find mealworms?

Mealworms are found in temperate regions all over the world.  They usually live in dark, cool, and moist places (under rocks and logs, etc.).

Are mealworms dangerous or destructive?

Mealworms have a positive effect on the ecosystem as they play a crucial part in the decomposing of dead insects, feces, dead animals and dead vegetation. But they can be very destructive if they get into a grain storage unit.  Infestations of these pests in grain storage or processing plants usually results in all of the grain needing to be destroyed. 

Drugstore Beetle

small red drugstore beetle in west palm beach fl

What do drugstore beetles look like?

Drugstore beetles are small, 1/10” to 1/7” long, reddish brown and have two antennae off their heads that end in 3 segments. 

When are drugstore beetles most active?

Drugstore beetles, like their close relative the cigarette beetle, are mostly active during dusk hours and throughout the night.

What attracts drugstore beetles?

Drugstore beetles are attracted to light and moisture. 

Where are you likely to find drugstore beetles?

Drugstore beetles have a global distribution but are more abundant in warmer regions or structures that are heated in more temperate climates.  Drugstore beetles have a tendency to feed on pharmacological products as well as dried herbs and plant materials. They can be found anywhere where these products are manufactured, processed, used or stored.  

Are drugstore beetles dangerous or destructive?

Drugstore beetles, like many other pantry pests, are destructive to stored, dried food products, as well as pharmacological products.  However, they are not considered a danger to humans or pets.