Even though your kitchen containers seal tightly, you still could have an insect invasion. How can you keep pantry pests out of your food prep space? If you have pests or just want to prevent them, take a look at the top ways to reduce the risks of insects in the kitchen.
What to Do Before You Buy
Insects don’t always invade from the outside. While some pests do find their way into your home through open windows, doors, or cracks or holes in exterior walls, others come in with your grocery haul. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, pantry pests typically infest dried goods such as flour and cereal products.
Even though an infestation can start in your home, pests can also get into dried goods during production (in a factory environment) or at the grocery store. This means you can transport pests into your home — even in brand-new, unopened packages.
Inspect the packaging before you buy:
- Boxed or bagged cake mix
- Dried beans
- Dried fruits
- Any dried, powdered, or cured product
If it is open or damaged, don’t buy it. A crack, tear, or hole gives pests the chance to invade the item as it sits on a store shelf.
You can’t easily determine whether a product has production line pest contamination or not. If possible, buy items in clear packages. This gives you the ability to see what’s inside, including pests. If not, read on for the next steps to take.
What to Do When You Get Home
After you get home from the grocery store, warehouse club, or other retailer, inspect dried goods for potential pest problems. Again, an infestation can start in your kitchen. Even though you’ll need to open items to inspect them, you shouldn’t leave your dried goods exposed or unwrapped.
Open each item and pour or place it into a sealable glass, hard plastic, or metal container. As you transfer the food, check for signs of an existing infestation. This may include the insects themselves, shed skins, or excrement. Throw away anything that has obvious signs of an infestation.
The longer dried goods stay in your kitchen, the higher the risk of an infestation. Use dried goods as soon as possible, and avoid overbuying or buying in bulk (unless you have a reason to use the entire item in the near future). Label each container with the date of purchase. This can help you to use the cereal, crackers, rice, or other dried good in a timely manner.
What to Do Later
Did you have plans to use a bulk dried goods haul almost immediately? Even though you might have planned for the use, you still have plenty left over. What should you do now to protect your home from a pest invasion? Keep the item in the sealed container, and avoid unnecessarily opening it.
Pests are less likely to thrive in the chilled environment of your refrigerator. If you’re sure the item is pest-free, move it into the refrigerator for safer storage. If this isn’t possible or will damage the food, add a second layer of protection with a sealed zipper plastic bag.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, insects still invade your pantry. If this happens, throw away all affected items, carefully inspect any dried goods near the impacted food, and clean the entire kitchen.
Along with your own cleaning efforts, you may also need the help of a pest control professional. The insect invasion experts can evaluate the area, look for leftover pests, exterminate them, and provide preventative services.