Stored Product Pests

Usually, the first sign that you have a stored product pest infestation is the appearance of small beetles around kitchen cupboards, flying moths, or light colored larvae crawling near cracks and crevices of kitchen cupboards or across ceilings.

Unfortunately, you purchased a product at the store from a manufacturer that packaged the stored product pest into their product. Practically all dried food products commonly found in your pantry are susceptible, including birdseed, dry flower arrangements, and dry pet foods.

The solution to eliminate the threat requires locating all infested products and discarding them, a general cleaning of infested areas, a thorough vacuuming of shelves using a crevice attachment to clean cracks, and placing your food products in sealed plastic containers. Let our experienced professionals handle these pests to ensure the food safety and health of your family.

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Stored Product Pests Identification

The first step in pest control is identification. The Indianmeal moth, saw-toothed grain beetle, cigarette beetle, drugstore beetle, red flour beetle and confused flour beetle are fairly common store product pests you may encounter.

Indianmeal Moths

Identification Tips:

  • Color: Front wings are bi-colored; inner 1/3 attached to body being whitish-gray and the outer 2/3 being coppery or bronze. The hind wings are pale gray
  • Legs: 6
  • Size: 1/4 to 3/8 inches long with a wingspan of about 5/8 to 3/4 inches long
  • Identifying Characteristics: Easily identified from other grain pests by peculiar markings on forewings (gray where attached to body and bronze with copper luster on back two-thirds)

Characteristics of this insect:

  • This insect is a troublesome pest of stored grains and can be found feeding on grains, grain products, birdseed, dried fruits, nuts, cereals and a host of other dry products
  • Loosely clinging webbing on the grain is characteristic of this pest
  • Mature females lay 100 to 300 eggs on food material, either singularly or in groups of twelve to thirty. Newly hatched larvae are small enough to pass through sixty-mesh screen. Hence, it is most difficult to exclude larvae from most packaged foods and grains
  • Adults emerge in four to thirty days, mate, and females lay the eggs of the next generation. Adults live from five to twenty-five days

Saw-toothed Grain Beetle

Identification Tips:

  • Color: Brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Size: 1/8 inch long
  • Identifying Characteristics: 6 teeth located on each side of prothorax; flattened body; well-developed wings, but cannot fly

Characteristics of this insect:

  • Often confused with not so common merchant grain beetle. This insect is most commonly found in stored grain, rice, and packaged dry foods
  • Females lay between 43 and 285 eggs, which are dropped loosely among grain kernels or into a crevice of the kernel. Eggs will hatch within three to five days based on optimal environmental conditions. Cocoons are constructed by joining pieces of grain and total development from egg to adult is three to four weeks
  • Adults live an average of six to ten months, but may live up to three years if environmental conditions are favorable
  • Broken kernels are preferred food, although may feed on sound kernels. Mold may begin to grow on kernels, which reduces quality and value of the food source

Cigarette Beetle

Identification Tips:

  • Color: yellowish-to reddish-brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Size: 1/10 inch long
  • Identifying Characteristics: oval-shaped; head bent downward sharply (humpbacked appearance); wing covers are smooth with antennal segments uniform and saw-like.

Characteristics of this insect:

  • Cigarette beetles commonly infest dried tobacco and tobacco products. They also infest a host of dry food products and may also damage the leaves and bindings of books when feeding on the paste or overstuffed furniture when infesting the straw, hair, etc.
  • Cigarette females lay about 30 eggs in a three-week period.
  • The cigarette beetle life cycle lasts 70 to 90 days, with perhaps 5 to 6 overlapping generations per year in warm localities with only one generation per year in more temperate regions.
  • Cigarette adult beetles are strong fliers

Drugstore Beetle

Identification Tips:

  • Color: reddish-brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Size: 1/10 inch long
  • Identifying Characteristics: head deflexed (no distinct humpbacked appearance); wing covers have faint lines running lengthwise with antennae having three enlarged segments at the tip

Characteristics of this insect:

  • Drugstore beetles feed on many drugs in the pharmacy such as laxative teas and even strychnine. They also infest a host of dry food products
  • Drugstore females lay eggs singly in foodstuffs
  • The drugstore beetle life cycle requires 7 months, with perhaps 4 generations per year in warm localities with only one generation per year in cooler climates
  • The drugstore adult beetle can fly and is attracted to light sources

Red Flour Beetle

Identification Tips:

  • Color: reddish-brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Size: 1/8 inch long
  • Identifying Characteristics: Red flour beetle antennae terminate in abrupt, 3-segmented club

Characteristics of this insect:

  • Have been found in barley, breakfast cereals, corn meal, crackers, oats, rice, wheat and wheat bran, flours, spices, sunflower seeds, pet foods, birdseed and a host of other dry products
  • Females lay between 300 -400 eggs over a period of five to eight months
  • Life cycle requires 7 to 12 weeks and the adult can live 3 years or more
  • Red flour beetles can fly short distances

Confused Flour Beetle

Identification Tips:

  • Color: reddish-brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Size: 1/8 inch long
  • Identifying Characteristics: Confused flour beetle antennae segments increase in size gradually from base to tip

Characteristics of this insect:

  • Have been found in barley, breakfast cereals, corn meal, crackers, oats, rice, wheat and wheat bran, flours, spices, sunflower seeds, pet foods, birdseed and a host of other dry products
  • Females lay between 300 -400 eggs over a period of five to eight months
  • Life cycle requires 7 to 12 weeks and the adult can live 3 years or more
  • The confused flour beetle does not fly

*Image courtesy of Udo Schmidt. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

**Image courtesy of the author Sarefo (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons