Blog post

A Pest in the Pantry

If you’ve been grocery shopping less frequently, cooking from scratch, and keeping more food at home lately, you’re not alone - and you might not be alone in your kitchen, either. Stored foods can become infested by several species of moths and beetles, collectively known as pantry pests.

While pantry pests don’t bite people, they can cause extensive damage to stored foods through contamination with live and dead insects, cast skins, frass (insect poop), and webbing. They can also introduce pathogens like mold and bacteria into foods. You shouldn’t use or eat products that have been infested by pantry pests.

If you notice small moths or beetles in your kitchen or other food storage areas, inspect stored food and locate the source of the infestation. Seal all affected products in a plastic bag and discard them outside your home to avoid spreading the infestation to other stored food. Wash down shelves with soapy water before replacing uninfested items. Store bulk goods in plastic, glass, or metal containers with tight-fitting lids - plastic bags are not enough to keep pantry pests out. If you have space, storing susceptible food products in the freezer will keep infestations from developing.

If you’re not sure what’s causing problems in your kitchen, collect a sample for identification. You can submit specimens to the District laboratory for identification. Learn more about submitting specimens for insect identification.