Best Ways to Detect and Treat Carpet Beetles, Updated for 2020

Best Ways to Detect and Treat Carpet Beetles

8 minutes to read | Updated for 2019

What’s In This Guide

Though there are many bugs that may invade your home like clothes moths, larder beetles, ants, and termites, the black carpet beetle is a very common pest found in many homes and require pest control. They are a nuisance as the larvae will eat just about anything in your home, causing destruction to property as well as allergies. In this guide, we will look at how to detect adult carpet beetles, how to treat a carpet beetle infestation, and also what treatments are available should an allergy occur.


So, what do carpet beetles look like? During the lifecycle of a carpet beetle, the appearance will vary dramatically. They begin life as an egg, then move on to the larval stage and the pupal stage, before emerging as adult beetles. Depending on the exact species of beetle, they reproduce from one to four times a year.

Beetles will usually lay eggs in batches of three, laying anything between 60 to 300 eggs in total. Be on the lookout in the warmer seasons for clusters of eggs. Female beetles tend to lay their eggs inside where there is ample food for the eggs to develop. The eggs are white or cream in color, dependent on the species, and will hatch in anything from five to 20 days.

The eggs are very small, measuring approximately 1/4 to 1/2 mm in length and have an oval shape. You may be able to see protrusions that look like spines at one end of the eggs. The female beetle will have taken care to lay the eggs in areas, such as upholstery or in wardrobes, drawers and areas where there is dust, lint, or hair for the eggs to feed upon. It is unlikely that you will detect beetles at this stage as they are tiny, well hidden, and often blend in to the area they have been laid upon.

The larvae of carpet beetle vary from species to species; typically the larvae have coarse hair and are about 5 mm in length. They may have an oval or elongated shape and are usually a brown color with distinctive white and tan-colored stripes. Black carpet beetle larvae tend to be larger and darker with yellow coloring. You can notice hairs on both species along the body and the tail.

In terms of the lifecycle of a common carpet beetle, this is when the beetles are at their most damaging. This is when the larvae will eat through just about anything such as upholstered items, including leather. They are not fussy and will feed on dead insects and rodents, clothes, pet food, crumbs, and hair.

The larvae at this stage can move from one area to another seeking out sources of food. This is the stage when they can be more easily detected. Once the beetles become adults they will feed on pollen and nectar or can even eat through cereals and grain.

Once the common carpet beetles become adult insects, they measure around 3 to 5 mm in length. They have black heads and have brownish black wings.

Beetle grinder — how to detect and remove pests

Identify lawn bugs and pests and deal with them

Bug Types
Common Bugs
Un-Common Bugs

There are many insect pests that will attack your lawn and potentially cause significant harm if you aren’t prepared

If you suspect you may have any uninvited guests damaging your lawn, send us a photo of your damaged lawn and any bugs you find and we can help you identify them! Pests may also come in the flying or walking kind such as birds, rabbits and other animals that find your lawn attractive.

There are many good brands of pest control products on the market. Give an expert a call to determine the best product for your area, lawn variety and specific pest problem. These products are available at our online ‘lawnstore’ or your local garden centre.

Indicators that you have lawn bugs


Too many birds can be a sign of lawn bugs

Birds are wonderful guests to our homes and gardens. It’s a great sign you have done something right in your garden. While birds foraging on lawn is natural they can become a pest when they begin digging and making a mess of the lawn.

The presence of birds digging on the lawn can be a sign something is wrong with your lawn. Birds will flock in numbers if there is a huge amount of bugs to feed on. They can be our friend by removing bugs and weeds, but destructive behaviour begins when bugs are in abundance.

Dealing with the bug problem quickly will ease the amount of bird damage.

Types of lawn pests

What are root feeding grubs?

Root feeding grubs include; white curl grub, scarab beetle larvae, lawn beetle larvae or cockchafer. These are all common names for the juvenile stage of a lawn beetle that feeds on the lawn roots. These are not to be mixed up with the “witchetty grub”. These pests will feed on your lawns root system and will be a serious problem. Cool season varieties such as fescue and warm season varieties such as couch and kikuyu can experience major damage however they are usually not so much of an issue for buffalo varieties. Stressed and under nourished lawns are also at high risk of an infestation.

Adult beetles are black and shiny, about 15mm long with brown serrated legs. They lay their eggs in spring and early summer, they then develop into larvae that then feed on the roots. The pupal stage will cause no damage but in late spring/early summer when the grubs emerge they will. The beetles are dormant or semi dormant in winter. A small infestation of black beetles can in some cases help your lawn, especially buffalo, where their tunnelling can act as an aeration technique but as soon as you see damage you should send them packing.

What are surface dwelling grubs?

‘Lawn Grub’ is a common name for surface dwelling caterpillars. Other names are sod webworm, army worm and cutworm that feed on the lawn leaves then become moths after their pupae stage. Each stage of the grubs life all cause similar issues on your otherwise healthy lawn. The moths are extremely fussy about where they lay their eggs, the healthiest lawn will be the spot for them. The caterpillars will then eat the best and leave the rest. To best understand how to control and prevent damage it is best to understand their life cycle.

If you begin to see brown or straw like patches through your lawn, or the leaves on your runners begin to disappear you could have an infestation of lawn grubs. Small green droppings will also become present which is basically your old lawn appearing. Caterpillars often feed at night so you often won’t see them. However you may see white/grey moths flying over your lawn or garden area, this could be an indication of a potential lawn grub problem. Lawn grubs are a seasonal issue and unfortunately they can affect your lawn multiple times throughout one season.

The Homeowner’s Guide to Preventing IPS Beetle Infestation In Denver

During winter months preying insects typically disappear from sight and it feels safe to let your guard down and take a break from tree and plant care. But signs of the IPS beetle may still be present. Learn more about this threat and how it could affect your trees.

The leaves have fallen, the air is chilly, and snow is arriving. This winter weather keeps us indoors catching up on a good book or our favorite Netflix shows. It certainly doesn’t feel like the time for tree or plant care!

You might be ready to burrow under a blanket and catch up on some must needed rest, but at Fielding Tree and Shrub Care, tree care happens all year round. Just this month our arbor experts spotted evidence of the destructive IPS beetle while out on a Denver job site!

See also:  Math in the Garden

This thorough guide covers everything you need to know about the IPS beetle in Denver, proactive strategies for preventing infestation, and methods of fighting an established infestation. Contact our arbor experts to craft a plant health care plan specialized for your plants and trees.

What is the IPS Beetle?

Often called an engraver beetle, these dark brown beetles mark and carve the wood of a tree as they feed on its phlegm. Hence the name engraver beetle! IPS beetles often go undetected due to their small size. They are a mere 1/8 to 3/8 in long. They can be reddish-brownish or black in color.

The growing number of IPS beetles in Denver is concerning. Presently, there are more than eleven species native to the area. The IPS beetle is spreading more rapidly than other pests because it can withstand the cold winter temperatures and has 2-4 generations per year. The beetles are active from early March all the way through November.

What Types of Denver Trees Do IPS Beetle Target?

IPS beetles typically target and attack pine and spruce trees. Their favorite Denver varieties include Blue Spruce, Englemann Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Pinyon Pine, Noble Fir, and Subalpine Fir. More often than not, the beetles go after easy prey- trees that are already stressed or dying.

Poor conditions caused by drought, windthrow, fire, cause major IPS beetle population build-ups. Denver trees specifically have experienced drought followed by heavy snow and high winds that lead to injured or broken branches and create a major spike in the IPS beetle population in the area.

According to the Colorado State University Extension, trees along the northern Front Range are suffering the most. Here, IPS beetles are responsible for killing a significant number of high-elevation lodgepole pines and also in some lower elevations, ponderosa pines. They are even killing large numbers of healthy trees!

This unprecedented behavior from the IPS beetle is concerning and calls for greater attention to infestation prevention.

How Can I Tell If My Tree Is Infested?

As you monitor your trees, you’ll need to know what signs to look for. The presence of the IPS beetle is serious, and if you are concerned about infestation you should contact our arbor experts immediately! Follow this guide from the Colorado State University Extension to check your trees for signs of infestation:

  • Infected trees display signs of rapid fading early in the spring, during the summer, late summer, or early fall. Fading can be at the top part of the tree or the whole tree.
  • An infested tree will not usually produce pitch-tubes (as in mountain pine beetle) from an IPS attack. If pitch-tubes are produced they are usually very small and covered with boring dust (cinnamon color).
  • Reddish boring dust can be found at the base of the tree or on the bark crevices. You can look for the boring dust at any time during the warmer months.
  • IPS beetles leave a path or gallery under the bark. Galleries made by the adults are very distinct, they have a “Y” or “H” shaped pattern. They are also clear of sawdust, unlike the sawdust-filled galleries of mountain pine beetle.
  • Woodpecker feeding on the main stem of the tree or on large branches in the canopy is a common sign.
  • If the whole tree has faded, the insects may have already flown. To determine whether they are still in the tree, peel back an area of bark the size of a deck of cards at eye level on the main trunk. If you see many live insects, the tree is still infested – if you find none, and find many small, circular exit holes on the outer surface of the bark, the insects have already left.
  • Trees that are still infested with IPS beetles should be cut down and chipped or debarked to prevent spread.

Proactive Strategies for Preventing IPS Beetle Infestation in Denver

With careful planning, it is possible to get ahead of pests and protect your trees. Our team at Fielding Tree & Shrub Care can consult with you on the best practices for pest prevention and plant health care. Our skilled team will create a prevention plan that meets your unique needs. Here are some of the best proactive strategies you can use to fight off tree-attacking pests:

Effective Monitoring

Now, more than ever, it is important to properly monitor your property to detect the presence of pests. If you keep a close eye on your pine and spruce trees for the IPS beetle, you can detect and remove them early on. When their populations are low, they are easy to stop. Each pest lays its eggs or is particularly visible during a certain season. For example, the best time to monitor for the IPS beetle is during the winter. Catching signs of the IPS Beetle in the winter months means you can handle the problem before spring when the beetle will spread diseases to other trees and plants.

It takes a trained eye to notice the subtle signs of pests. Schedule our certified arborists for routine monitoring of your trees and plants. Finding and stopping pests before they colonize is key to fighting tree and plant infestation!

Necessary Watering

It’s no secret that trees and plants thrive when they are well watered. Receiving the proper amount of water helps plants and trees stay healthy enough to fight off infection and repel attacks made by pests. Trees that experience drought become weak and are more vulnerable to IPS beetle infestation.

Watering your trees and plants probably isn’t on your mind during the winter, but trees still need it! Different types of trees and soil require varying amounts of water. There are several factors that determine how much water your plant or tree needs:

  • Tree maturity
  • Tree species
  • Location
  • Soil type
  • Season

If you are unsure how much hydration your plants require, consult an expert from our team today.

Consistent Pruning

Dead leaves clinging to a plant and around its base attract unwanted insects. Don’t give pests an invitation! Mindfully incorporate pruning into your weekly plant care routine. Remove plant litter and observe the overall health of your tree or plant as you prune.

Don’t want to brave the cold? Leave the pruning to our arbor experts!

Your Options for Fighting Pest Infestation and Tree Disease

The life of your tree is at stake, and you can save it. If you know that IPS beetles have been confirmed in your area, you need to take action. The priority now is to choose a safe, effective course of treatment and swiftly execute it. Here are a few effective treatments for fighting the IPS beetle:


In many instances, an effective method for eliminating a pest infestation is spraying the tree or plant with pesticide or fungicide. Only trained arborists should apply spray pesticides. The goal of spraying the pesticide is to kill the present infestation, but the drawback is that it could inadvertently reach and contaminate nearby plants. As a rule of thumb, our Fielding Tree & Shrub Care team does not use spray treatments out of respect for the environment, your family’s health, and your pets’ health as well.


Some pest infestations happen beneath the surface of the tree. A topical spray would not be effective for this situation. When an insect or fungus problem is under the bark, injections are a better course of action. Injections are an excellent alternative to spray pesticides, which is why we choose injections. On the plus side, there is little chance of pesticide or fungicide entering the groundwater supply or affecting nearby plants. This method of treatment provides more regulated control.


Although less direct, applying fertilizer is a possible solution for pest infestation. The soil will strengthen the tree’s natural defense system when it receives more nutrients. This strategy focuses on strengthening the tree to a healthy state so it can fight off the infestation on its own.


In some cases, purposeful controls can be used to remove the threat. Hand pruning small, individual trees can be an effective pesticide-free control. Trunk banding and trapping are other possible control methods.

Denver Homeowner Safety Strategies For Preventing IPS Beetle Attack

There are several practical ways that Denver homeowners can help stop the spread and attack of the IPS beetle. With a keen eye and thoughtful care, you can keep the IPS beetle off your property and out of your neighborhood. Here are the top recommendations from the Colorado State University Extension:

  • Do not injure trees when thinning. Injured trees attract IPS beetles.
  • Do not stack recently cut green or unseasoned firewood near living trees. This is an ideal breeding place for IPS and beetles may attack and kill these trees.
  • Do not place slash piles near living trees. Ips beetles will be attracted to slash piles. Slash should be hauled away as soon as possible.
  • Debark or chip logs that are infested with IPS beetle larva as a suppression method. You can store debarked logs for firewood (but keep them away from living trees until they dry out.)
  • If you have groups of IPS-infested trees that you remove, be sure to continue to monitor the living trees adjacent to the areas you treated. It is not uncommon to miss a few newly infested trees with your first sanitation treatment. Remove any additional beetle-infested trees as soon as possible.
See also:  Natural Ant Killer

Doing Your Part To Help Denver Trees Stay Strong

The spread of the IPS beetle infestations is not a problem that will solve itself. Denver city officials and the forest service has issued a call for help. It takes community participation to make positive change, and without everyone doing their part the IPS beetle will continue to wreak havoc and destruction on the beautiful Denver landscape.

You aren’t alone in this effort! Teaming up with the experts is the best move you can make. Our skilled team has years of experience and an excellent track record for eradicating tree and plant infestation. Let’s work together to keep your trees and plants healthy and happy.

How to Manage Pests

Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets

Pantry Pests

In this Guideline:

Warehouse beetle larva (left) and adult (right).

Sawtoothed grain beetles.

Confused flour beetle.

Red flour beetle.

Stored-product pests are usually brought into the home in an infested package of food. Initially, infestations are easy to overlook, because the insects involved are quite small, especially in the egg and larval stages. Often the first indication of an infestation is small moths flying about or beetles in or near a package of food.


The most common insects infesting food in the home are in the orders Lepidoptera (moths) and Coleoptera (beetles). Adult moths and adult beetles are easy to distinguish from one another, but their similar-looking larvae are a little more difficult to identify. Use a hand lens to examine the legs of the larvae. Beetle larvae are either grublike and legless or have only three pairs of legs, all located close to the head. Moth larvae have three pairs of true legs plus additional leglike structures farther down the abdomen. Both larvae and adults of beetles feed on foodstuffs, whereas only the larval stage of moths eats stored products.

Meal Moths

The most common species of meal moths found in the home pantry is the Indianmeal moth, Plodia interpunctella. All damage is done by the larvae, which attack a wide range of products including cereal and cereal products, flour, cornmeal, rice, dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, chocolate, candies, and other confections. When infestations are heavy, mature larvae can often be found in parts of the house far from the original food source, because they move quite a distance to pupate.

The Indianmeal moth is a fairly distinct small moth—1/3 to 2/5 inch long with a wingspan of about 3/5 inch—with reddish brown forewings that have a coppery luster on the outer two-thirds and with whitish gray on the inner or body portion. The female moth lays its eggs singly on food material. Eggs hatch within a few days into small whitish caterpillars.

Larvae of the Indianmeal moth spin a web as they grow and leave behind silken threads wherever they crawl. When fully grown, the larva is about 1/2 inch long and white with a greenish or pinkish hue. This larva spins a silken cocoon and transforms into a light-brown pupa, from which the adult moth later emerges. During warm weather, the Indianmeal moth takes about six to eight weeks to complete egg, larval, and pupal stages.

Don’t confuse Indianmeal moths with clothes moths, which are smaller and have more hair than pantry moths. For more information see Pest Notes: Clothes Moths.

Pantry Beetles

While there is only one major species of moth that feeds on food products in the home, several species of beetles commonly attack a wide variety of foods:

  • The warehouse beetle (Trogoderma variabile)
  • The sawtoothed grain beetle (Oryzaephilus surinamensis) and the merchant grain beetle (O. mercator)
  • The confused flour beetle (Tribolium confusum) and the red flour beetle (T. castaneum)
  • The drugstore beetle (Stegobium paniceum) and the cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne)

Other beetles that feed primarily on seeds or whole grains include the lesser grain borer (Rhyzopertha dominica), the bean weevil (Acanthoscelides obtectus), the granary weevil (Sitophilus granarius), and the rice weevil (S. oryzae). These seed beetles aren’t covered in detail here, but their management is similar to the other pantry beetles.

Warehouse Beetle

The warehouse beetle feeds on a wide variety of foods including cereals, candy, cocoa, cookies, cornmeal, fish meal, pet foods, flour, nuts, dried peas and beans, pastas, potato chips, spices, dead animals, and dead insects.

Adult beetles have oval bodies that are about 1/8 inch long with a brown and yellowish pattern on the wing covers. Female beetles lay up to 90 eggs within the infested food, and larvae emerge and feed on the food. Each larva is about 1/4 inch when fully grown and has numerous stiff setae, or hairs, that emerge from dark-colored plates on the last few segments of its abdomen as well as a tail of long, thin hairs that extends from the tip of the abdomen. Larvae are very active and seek out new food sources to infest. In warm temperatures, the entire life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in 45 days.

The setae of this beetle are shed within the infested food product and can be irritating to the mouth, esophagus, and digestive tract if ingested; consequently any food found infested with this beetle should be discarded.

Sawtoothed Grain Beetle and Merchant Grain Beetle

The sawtoothed grain beetle and the merchant grain beetle are slender, flat, brown beetles that are about 1/10 inch long. Both beetles have six sawlike tooth projections on each side of the thorax, the section between head and abdomen. The sawtoothed grain beetle has smaller eyes than the merchant grain beetle and a larger area just behind the eyes. In both larval and adult stages, these beetles feed on all food of plant origin, especially grain and grain products such as flours, meals, breakfast foods, stock and poultry feeds, coconut, nutmeats, candies, and dried fruit; it’s also common to find these beetles infesting pet food, bird seed, and rodent bait.

The biology of both beetles is nearly identical, and they are managed in the same manner so it isn’t necessary to distinguish between the two species. The adult beetles live an average of 6 to 10 months, but some individuals may live as long as 3 years. The female beetle of both species drops her eggs loosely among some food material or tucks the eggs in a crevice in a kernel of grain. When the small, slender, white eggs hatch, the emerging larvae crawl about actively, feeding here and there. They become fully grown in about two weeks during summer weather and then construct delicate cocoonlike coverings by joining together small grains or fragments of foodstuff with a sticky secretion. Within this cell, the larva changes to the pupal stage. Development from egg to adult may take from three to four weeks in summer.

Confused Flour Beetle and Red Flour Beetle

The confused flour beetle and the red flour beetle are very similar in appearance and can be most easily distinguished by examining the antennae; the antennae of the red flour beetle end abruptly in a three-segmented club, while the confused flour beetle’s antennae gradually enlarge toward the tip, ending in a four-segmented club. Adult beetles of these two species have shiny reddish-brown bodies that are about 1/7 inch long, flattened, and oval. These beetles have a very wide food range including cereals, damaged grains, grain products, shelled nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, drugs, and herbarium and museum specimens.

The biologies of these two species are very similar; their average lifespan is about one year, but some have been known to live almost four years. The females lay their small white eggs loosely in flour or other food material. The eggs, which are coated with a sticky secretion, become covered with flour or meal and readily adhere to the sides of sacks, boxes, and other containers. They hatch into small wormlike larvae that are slender, cylindrical, and wiry in appearance. When fully grown, each larva is 3/16 inch long and white, tinged with yellow. At this stage, it transforms into a small pupa. At first white, the pupa gradually changes to yellow and then brown; shortly afterward it transforms into a beetle. In summer, the period from egg to adult averages about six weeks.

See also:  Where Do Termites Live? Termite Habitat Facts
Drugstore Beetle and Cigarette Beetle

The drugstore beetle and the cigarette beetle closely resemble one another, but the cigarette beetle is more common. Both beetles are about 1/8 inch long, cylindrical, and uniformly light brown. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is by the wing covers; those of the drugstore beetle have longitudinal grooves, while wing covers of the cigarette beetle are smooth.

The cigarette beetle feeds on cured tobacco, cigarettes, and cigars. It also feeds on dried herbs, spices, nuts, cereals and cereal products, dried fruit, seeds, and animal products such as dried fish and meats, hair, and wool. In the home this beetle is most commonly found in pet foods, cereals, nuts, and candy. It may also infest dried pepper arrangements, wreaths, and spices such as chili powder or paprika.

The cigarette beetle lays its eggs in the food substance. The small yellowish-white grubs are covered with long, silky, yellowish-brown hairs and are about 1/6 inch long when fully grown. The pupae are within a closed cell comprised of small particles of the food substance cemented together with a secretion from the larvae. The period from egg to adult is about six weeks.

The drugstore beetle is a very general feeder, consuming a great variety of stored foods, seeds, pet foods, spices, and pastry mixes and has been said to “eat anything except cast iron.” It gets its name from its habit of feeding on almost all drugs found in pharmacies. In the home, however, the most common materials this beetle infests are pet foods, drugs, and cereals. The drugstore beetle lays eggs in almost any dry organic substance. After hatching, the small white grubs tunnel through these substances and, when fully grown, pupate in small cocoons. The entire life cycle may take place in fewer than two months.


Pantry pests damage food by contaminating it with their bodies and their by-products. The larval stage of the Indianmeal moth produces frass (excrement) and webbing, and some beetle larvae produce secretions that give food a disagreeable odor and taste. Setae (hairs) from the warehouse beetle can irritate the mouth, throat, and stomach of people who eat infested products. In addition, pantry pests might introduce microbes into the food that could produce mycotoxins (highly carcinogenic compounds), especially if the food is stored in warm, humid conditions.


Getting rid of food-infesting moths or beetles takes continuous, persistent effort at removing and cleaning up the infestation, especially if it has been present for a while. Some pests are capable of living for many weeks without food; thus the threat of reinfestation exists until they die off or are killed. It is best, at least for several months after eliminating the infested products, to store any susceptible food in airtight containers or in a refrigerator or freezer. Also, as a general practice, storing infrequently used food items (e.g., pancake flour, grains, spices, and so forth) in the freezer prevents infestations from developing.

Pheromone traps are available in many retail stores to monitor and trap Indianmeal moths and other pantry pests. Insecticides aren’t recommended for any of the pantry pests.

If you find small moths or beetles crawling or flying around your kitchen, look for the food source of these pests and remove it immediately. If you locate the infestation before it spreads to other packages, control may be relatively easy. The source is commonly a package damaged at the store or an opened one that is little used or forgotten. The best thing to do with the package is seal it up and dispose of it, removing it from the house immediately.

Cleaning Up an Infestation

Most commonly, by the time the insects are noticed, they have already spread to other food packages. Carefully inspect all packages, especially those that have been opened or are exposed. Destroy any that give the slightest indication of infestation. Other than the insects themselves, telltale signs include webbing in tight places of a package or tiny holes in the container. Insects are less likely to invade packages that have their original seal but more commonly infest those that have been opened or that have been on the shelf for a long time. Before replacing noninfested packages, wash shelves with soap and water, scrubbing corners and crevices or vacuuming them with a crevice attachment to remove eggs and pupae.

Pheromone Traps

Pheromone traps are readily available for several different pantry pests, although pheromone traps specifically designed for the Indianmeal moth won’t attract beetles. There are some traps (e.g., Pantry Patrol) that attract several different pantry pest species, including the Indianmeal moth, red flour beetle, confused flour beetle, warehouse beetle, and cigarette beetle.

Use pheromone traps to detect pests that remain in the house after the source of the infestation has been removed. Pheromones are chemicals produced by an organism to affect the behavior of other members of the same species. In the case of the Indianmeal moth, a sex pheromone attracts adult male moths into the trap where they get stuck on the sticky sides; these traps won’t attract the female moths but may reduce their ability to produce eggs if the traps catch males before they can mate. The pheromones used to attract the flour beetle species are aggregation pheromones that attract both sexes. Food oil lures are also contained in some traps.

Place the traps in the area of a previous infestation and check them weekly. Most traps remain effective for about three months. Whenever you catch a new batch of moths or beetles in traps, it is time to inspect food packages again for an infestation.

Prevention and Sanitation

Most home infestations of pantry pests maintain themselves on spills in the crevices of cupboards and drawers or in opened packages of food stored for long periods of time. Following a few general guidelines when storing food products will help you avoid many potential problems:

  • Don’t put exposed food on shelves. Place it in containers with tight-fitting lids; plastic bags aren’t adequate.
  • Regularly clean shelves, bins, and all other locations where there is any possibility of flour or other food particles accumulating. Certain pests need only small amounts of food to live and breed. Soap and water are great for cleaning flat areas, and vacuuming with a crevice attachment will help clean cracks, edges, and corners.
  • Don’t mix old and new lots of foodstuffs. If the old material is infested, the pest will quickly invade the new.
  • Clean old containers before filling them with fresh food. They may be contaminated and cause a new infestation.
  • Don’t purchase broken or damaged packages of food materials. They are more likely to become infested.
  • Construct storage units so that they are tight and can be easily cleaned.
  • Store bulk materials, such as pet foods, in containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Keep storage units dry. This is important because moisture favors the development of pantry pests, while dryness discourages them.
  • Some pantry insects breed in the nests of rodents and insects and may migrate from these into homes. Eliminate any nests found in or near the home.
  • Pantry pests can also breed in rodent baits. Be sure to frequently check and discard infested baits.


Koehler, C. S. et al. 1982. Common Pantry Pests and Their Control. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Sci. Leaflet 2711.

Mallis, A., D. Moreland, and S. A. Hedges. 2011. The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control, 10th ed. Cleveland: GIE Publications.

O’Connor-Marer, P. 2006. Residential, Industrial, and Institutional Pest Control, 2nd ed. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 3334.

Olkowski, W., S. Daar, and H. Olkowski. 1991. Common-sense Pest Control. Newton, Conn.: The Taunton Press Inc.

Strang, T. J. K. 1992. A review of published temperatures for the control of pest insects in museums. Collection Forum 8:41–67.

UC Statewide IPM Program. Dec. 2000. Pest Notes: Clothes Moths. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 7435.


Pest Notes: Pantry pests

UC ANR Publication 7452

Author: D.-H. Choe, Entomology, UC Riverside

Editor: M. Fayard

Technical Editor: M. L. Flint

Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

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