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A source for information on beetles 


Food/ Grain/ Stored Product Pests


Few pest problems can be more disturbing that to open a bag or box of baked goods and discover that it is infested with insects. There are a number of stored product pests that find their way into items stored on our kitchen or pantry shelves, and it is often difficult, if not impossible, to tell when the item becomes infested. Just because a box "looks" sealed does not mean that insects cannot find their way inside anytime before packaging, during storage in a warehouse, retail store or even in your home. Sometimes, pests show up in places other than a pantry. Regardless of where we find them, the key to solving the problem is to locate the source of the infestation. These insects will often attack any item made of plant material. Typical sources of a problem are items such as:

Common Food Items Attacked

Other items attacked

whole or cracked grains (including rice)

rodent baits (that contain grain as a feeding attractant)

flour, meal or similar ground grain products

dry pet food


bird seed


grass seed


some powdered soap detergents


dried flowers, potpourri, etc.

powdered milk

items stuffed with dried beans or other plant material

nuts (whole or pieces)

tobacco products


Insect pests that attack stored grains and stored products are usually beetles or moths. With the beetles, both the immatures (larvae) and the adults feed on stored products. In the case of the moths, only the larvae (caterpillars) feed on plant products; the adults either feed on nectar or they may not feed at all.

 The control of any stored product pest involves many steps, primary of which is discovery of infested food items or other sources of infestation (e.g., food spillage accumulation). All dried food products need to be inspected for signs of infestation, including cereals, packaged dried foods (e.g., food bars and chocolate), nuts and pet foods. Indian meal moths have also been found infesting spices, potpourri and decorations made of vegetative materials. Keep in mind that infested items may not always be stored in the kitchen. Spices, potpourri and decorations made of vegetative products may be stored in any room of a house. A common source is bags of birdseed stored in the garage or basement. Infestations have also been traced to caches of nuts and seeds accumulated by squirrels or rodents within attics, walls and chimneys. A pest management professional can be helpful in finding difficult infestation sources. Also consider the following to prevent an infestation: · Discard infested foods in outdoor trash. Infested decorations (flowers, wreaths, etc.) should also be discarded. · Freeze suspect foods at zero degrees Fahrenheit for six days. · Clean cabinets and shelves where infested foods are stored by vacuuming and by using soap and water. · Store all dried food goods, including dried pet foods and birdseed, in a glass or plastic container with a tight lid. If beetles are in that food product then the infestation will be contained and not spread to other foods. · Consider storing cereals and similar foods in the refrigerator to limit stored product pest problems. · Consume older food products prior to newer purchases of the same food. Use the first in - first out method.  Products purchased in larger quantities (e.g., from a wholesale food warehouse) are more likely to become an infestation source if these are stored for long periods of time – especially if they are not stored in containers with tight-fitting lids.

  Most Floridians are familiar with beetles, often encountering these pests in the home or on a windowsill. They usually don’t elicit the same reaction a cockroach or spider might; however, they are generally not a welcome presence. Beetles and similar pests are known as “pantry pests” or “stored-product pests” since they infest these areas and feed on the foods commonly stored in these locations. These insects can get into even the most tightly sealed containers in your pantry to feed on the contents, and although they tend to contaminate more food than they could ever consume, their mere presence and the contamination they cause is enough to warrant their extermination.

The Red Flour Beetle and the Confused Flour Beetle are two beetles that frequent the same environments, usually pantries or cabinets where dry foods are stored. The Confused flour beetle, so named due to its similarity to the Red flour beetle, is the most abundant and harmful pest in U.S. flour mills. They feed on grains, cereal, dry pet foods and other dry foods, and can contaminate these items, especially in large numbers. They can get into packages in processing plants where they are brought into homes, breeding in the foods they infest and enlarging their populations in the areas in which these items are stored.  

Nearly every stored dry food is susceptible to pantry pest infestation, especially those bought in bulk and stored for long periods, foods stored in damaged containers, or those that are not kept in tight-fitting containers. Some, like the Drugstore Beetle feed on prescription drugs, laxative teas, etc., as well as dry foods. They are responsible for economic losses brought by the damage caused by feeding on post-harvest and stored grains and seeds, packaged food products, and animal and plant-derived items and products. Food that has been infested has a foul smell and taste and cannot be sold, which also causes loss of revenue.  

Aside from grains, nuts, cereals, pastas, and myriad stored dry products, beetles can also feed and survive on food and other items of no nutritional content, such as book bindings; Drugstore beetles have even been known to chew through tin or aluminum foil and lead sheets. They also cause irreparable damage to valuable museum exhibits and artifacts, feeding on glue or paste, furniture stuffing, and paper they contain. Some beetle species have also been known to feed on poison found in insect rodent traps without harm.

Other industries are affected as well. Although known primarily as stored-food pests that feeding on common pantry items, Cigarette Beetle are known to infest dried tobacco and tobacco products, hence their name. Saw-toothed Grain Beetle feed on a wide array of dry foods and is capable of chewing through unopened paper or cardboard boxes, cellophane, plastic, and foil wrapped packages to gain access to food. Saw-toothed grain beetles cannot fly but have running legs that are used to scurry out of sight when disturbed.

Beetles are usually found when they leave the infested sight and wander around the house. The appearance of these insects on walls, counters, windowsills and in cupboards is usually a sign that an infestation has occurred. Most pantry pests are strong fliers as well. Proper sanitation is crucial in controlling these pests, as they have the amazing ability to find the tiniest food particle and also live off of it. Stored dry foods should not be kept for long periods of time, and any spills should be thoroughly cleaned. Damaged packages should be discarded immediately in tight-fitting garbage containers. 


 Bean Weevil  Cabinet Weevil  Cigarette Weevil  Drugstore Beetle  Flour Moth
 Fruit Beetle  Grain Beetle  Indian Meal Moth  Lauder Beetle  Rice Weevil
 Sawtooth Grain Weevil        Resources


Images and information derived in part or in whole from Trueman's Scientific Guide to PMO 6th ED

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