How to Keep Pantry Pests From Moving in While You’re on Vacation

Our Texas insect expert answers common questions about bugs.

By Laura RiceJuly 4, 2016 9:30 am

Have you ever returned home from a nice, long vacation only to find bugs have moved into your pantry? Wizzie Brown, an insect specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, has all the information you need on what these critters are and how to keep them out while you’re away.

What do pantry pests look like?

“Pantry pests are a large category and it covers a lot of diff kind of insects. The most common ones that I get calls on are Indian meal moths, cigarette (beetles) and drugstore beetles. The Indian meal moth has these coppery tipped wings, a lot of times you’ll see them flying around in the dog food isles of stores. Drugstore and cigarette beetles are small reddish-brown beetles, kind of an oval shape, and they have their head deflected under so you can’t see their head from above.”

How can I prevent them from moving in? 

“When you have people coming home from a holiday break, they haven’t been using their items and it’s possible that they now have pantry pests emerging from those items – things like cereal, rice, cornmeal. All of these things can have these things coming out of them.”

What if I already see them in my pantry? 

“You can put those items into the refrigerator or freezer if you’re going away for long periods of time. If you already have the problem then you need to go through everything in your pantry – whether it’s been opened or not – and find everything that’s infested and get rid of it. If you do not want to get rid of your food, you can stick it in the freezer to kill whatever’s in it, or you can stick it in the lowest oven temperature setting and leave it in there for 30 minutes to an hour, (then) sift through whatever it is to get the bugs out.”