Prevention is the most important thing in combatting pests in your cabinets and pantry.

Pests in the pantry often mean that there are one or more stored food items that have become infested and, left unattended, the infestation may spread to other stored food items. When it comes to pest problems in the home, the kitchen can be a hot spot as there are three requirements for pests — food, water, and places to hide (shelter).

Common pests in the kitchen and pantry include meal moths, carpet beetles, drugstore beetles and other grain beetles, cockroaches, fruit flies, and drain flies.

One of the first steps is to recognize which foods in the pantry are likely to become infested.

Opened and partially used packages containing nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and grains are some of the most likely to become infested. Some of the earliest signs of infestation are small beetles crawling across the counter or shelf, or a small moth flying around in the kitchen or in a cupboard. As infestations develop, larvae may be seen wandering on countertops or walls.

When this occurs you must find everything that may have been infested and throw it out. This may include all stored food items that are not in cans, jars, and sealable plastic containers, including pet and bird foods.

Many store-bought cardboard and thin plastic containers and packaging are not pest-proof.

Shelves and counters must be thoroughly cleaned, including cracks and crevices that collect food for these pests. It is better to do a very thorough job one time than to have to repeat a hasty inspection and cleanup. Spills need to be thoroughly cleaned up quickly.

The strategy to keep pests out of your stored food products is exclusion.

By placing individual stored food items into sealable storage containers you can keep them out of these foods, or if they do get in you can keep them from spreading to other foods in the pantry. Glass and plastic containers with tight-fitting lids help to mechanically keep the pests out. Good sanitation and proper storage are the long-term practices to keep pests out of your stored food products.

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