Pantry Beetles

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Order: Coleoptera

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?
Pantry beetles refer to a large group of beetles that infest stored products in both residential and commercial settings.

  • Color: Coloring varies by species, but typically ranges from reddish-brown to brown and black.
  • Size: Most species measure between 2 to 5 millimeters in length.

How Did I Get Pantry Beetles?

Where Did They Come From?
Infestations result from either infested grains or infested processed products that are introduced into the home, storage facility, or processing plant. Most people bring pantry beetles into homes in infested food items. They can also come inside through open doors and windows or cracks in walls.

What Attracts Them?
Warm areas with plenty of crumbs attract them to kitchens. Infestations of pantry beetles are not seasonal, instead they can occur anytime throughout the year. Storing or not using grain and grain-based products for long periods of time increases the chance of infestation.

How Serious Are Pantry Beetles?

Food Contamination
Pantry beetle infestations ruin stored goods, and it can become expensive to replace infested products. Quick control is extremely important since pantry beetles not only damage and destroy the products they feed on, but also contaminate products by depositing feces and castoff body parts in or on the product. While most of the pests don’t carry disease, their eggs, larvae, and cast skins make what they infest inedible.

Some pantry beetles spread easily from one package to the next, so homeowners may need to throw out cupboards full of infested food and clean up spillage located within cracks, gaps, and crevices. The insects don’t bite or sting and won’t damage the wood found in homes.

How Do I Get Rid of Pantry Beetles

What Orkin Does
Different species of pantry beetles have different behaviors, habitats, and diets. Therefore, an accurate identification of the infesting beetle by a pest management professional is crucial to successfully controlling an infestation. Their knowledge, experience, and effective use of equipment and products will help control the population of damaging insects. If you discover a pantry beetle, don’t procrastinate – the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep pantry beetles in their place…out of your home, or business.


What You Can Do
Some suggestions to help homeowners control pantry beetles are:

  • Examine Packaging: Check food packages to ensure you are not purchasing damaged foods or damaged food packages. Discard any packages of products that are infested or return the infested food to the store manager where it was bought. When purchasing bulk products, look for any adult or larval insect stages in the bin or within the product.
  • Examine Dates: Use products before they get old. Employ the FIFO concept – first in, first out. Buy foods in small-sized packages so the food is used before it gets old. Pay attention to dates on the stored product packages and use the older products before the newer ones.
  • Cleanliness: Keep the pantry and other storage areas clean and well organized since spilled foods attract pests, and good organization helps a homeowner conduct a good inspection. Clean the cracks and crevices in your pantry. A vacuum is a very helpful cleaning tool, but make sure you discard the vacuum bag after use. If insects are left in the bag, they could create an infestation inside the bag.
  • Storage: If practical, store foods in containers that are insect-proof to prevent an infestation. Glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids are insect-proof, while cardboard, wood, and paper containers are not.
  • Chemicals: Homeowners should not use insecticides. The risk of contaminating foods with insecticides must be avoided. If insecticide applications are needed, your pest management professional will apply them in a manner that doesn’t risk contamination.

Behavior, Diet, & Habits

What Do They Eat?
Diets vary greatly depending on the species of pest. Many of the common foods infested by pantry beetles are:

  • Beans
  • Cereals
  • Dried fruits
  • Flour & Grains
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Pasta
  • Pet foods

Pantry Beetle Feeding Categories

Stored product infesting beetles are broadly categorized based on their feeding behavior. The four categories of pantry beetles are internal feeders, external feeders, secondary feeders, and scavengers.

Internal Feeders
Internal feeders are beetles that complete their larval (grub) stage inside the seed, kernel, or beans they damage. Some of the commonly encountered internal feeders are:

Weevils are relatively easy to identify since they have a long snout that sticks out from their head and has its functional mouthparts at the tip of the snout. Many experts consider the rice and granary weevils to be the world’s most important stored grain pests.

External Feeders

External feeders complete their life cycle outside the grain. However, external feeders will feed on and damage both whole grains and processed products from whole grains. Some commonly encountered external feeders are:

Warehouse and cabinet beetles will feed on animal hair, taxidermy skins, dried fruits, milk, and dead insects. These beetles will infest the attic space of a home where they may be feeding on a dead rodent or a bird’s nest.

Secondary Feeders
This category of pantry beetles infests old, wet, and moldy stored products that may be damaged by other groups of stored product insects. The secondary feeders often do not directly feed on the product itself, but feed on the mold and fungus growing on the products. Some commonly encountered secondary feeders include:

One of many possible causes of a secondary feeder infestation is old rodent baits set out, but not gathered up after the rodent problem was solved. The mealworm beetle infests old products, but is also a valuable insect since its larval stage is raised and sold as fish bait and food for pets like lizards.

Scavengers
This group of pantry beetles cannot infest whole grains or kernels unless the product was damaged by an external or internal feeding beetle or in the harvesting or storage process. The more common and damaging pantry beetles in this group are:

The most likely situations causing a scavenger beetle infestation are broken pieces of whole grains, grain product, or processed products made from a particular type of grain.