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Pantry pests

Definitely an ick factor when you find them

Nothing can turn off my craving for pancakes quicker than opening up the box and finding little bugs squirming in the pancake mix. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, tiny moths, beetles, and other creepy-crawlies love to dine on the buffet in your pantry. They typically feed on things like pasta, flour, rice, cereal, even pet food.

Nicole Stoner is an extension educator at the University of Nebraska. She says pantry pests can wander in from the outside, but the most common point-of-entry is the store you bought the food from.

"They can chew through cardboard and the plastic wrapping that is around your food and you may not even notice it," says Stoner. "The holes can be really small. They’ll get in in the warehouse or in the store itself, and then you bring it home, and you don’t notice it, and they can get out and get into your other foods as well."

If you see them in your food it’s best to just throw it out, not that it would be very appetizing anyway. Stoner says sometimes an insect will wander through something, pick up unwanted microbes, and then get into your food.

Pantry pests aren’t picky about the types of homes they invade. They come into clean and dirty houses alike. But you can manage them by cleaning up your cabinets and storing your food properly.

"In a container that is either a real hard plastic with a good seal on it of some sort on the lid, or a glass container," says Stoner. "The twist top seals are good, or any kind of really good seal on those containers. If it’s hard plastic or glass they can’t chew through that. You can’t use any kind of zip bags, because they can chew through and into those."

You could also store grain products in canisters in the freezer. The bugs won’t find them there. Stoner also notes that you should never use chemicals to control insects in the kitchen.

Learn more about the creepy crawlies invading your cupboards

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