Pest Issues

Pantry Bugs: How to Deal with a Pest Infestation in Your Kitchen

Trygve Finkelsen /

Your kitchen can be like a restaurant with an open invitation to all kinds of pests. From the more harmless ones, like weevils, to the ones that can get you seriously sick, like cockroaches and mice.

Improperly stored food like grains, flour, and cereal can get infested with bugs quite easily. Even if you store everything in canisters, if they’re not airtight, you might have a yucky surprise waiting in the pantry the next time you open it. But don’t worry! All of the pests found in your kitchen can be taken care of.

Read on to find out:

  • How did the pests get in your stored products;
  • What are the most common pantry bugs in Australia;
  • How to get rid of them;
  • How to prevent future infestations.
Table of Contents:

Where do pantry pests come from?

Bugs love places where food is plentiful and, more importantly – at a close distance. In your kitchen, you might find cockroaches, ants, and of course, all stored food pests like weevils, grain beetles, and Indian meal moths.

When it gets cold outside, the warmth of your home attracts these insects (and sometimes rodents, too). Once in, they seek a good hiding place like cupboards, under the sink and behind the fridge. A lot of times, they find food there. And when they do… they don’t have a reason to leave.

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In rare cases, the food might not have been stored properly in the grocery store or even before it was packaged. Be sure to inspect the packaging for any damages.

Signs of an insect infestation might be:

  • Larvae;
  • Cocoons;
  • Web in the food;
  • And, of course, the most obvious sign of all – noticing the insects themselves.

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What action should you take if you discover a pantry infestation?

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to encounter this problem, then here are the actions you have to take.

Steps you should take if you have pantry infestation:

  • Inspect the pantries in your home and try to find the source. Many times, it’s impossible or tough to find it. It can be hidden behind a wall or somewhere between the kitchen furniture. That’s when you’ll need to get the help of professionals.
  • Check all the boxes and cans of food. Pests are there for the food. You should always check if you have some rotten or expired food in your pantries. Also, make sure that there are no decaying fruits and vegetables.
  • Take into consideration that there might be spilt food somewhere around that you can’t see. Throw away all the rotted food and bad-smelling boxes, and give your pantries a good cleaning. After that, it’s just observance of what is going to happen.
  • Heat or freeze any food that you inspect is infected. Lightly heat spices, flour, nuts to around 50°C for 30 minutes in the oven or use the microwave for about 5 minutes. Freezing the food for a day can ensure no insects survive. If you suspect a cockroach infestation, the best choice is to throw away the food.

Common pantry bugs in Australia

Taking care of pantry pests is a delicate situation. You can’t use poison since you store your food in the same pantry, so spraying with insecticides is out of the question. Whatever the case, you’ll almost certainly have to remove whatever you are storing in the cabinets. Let’s see what the most common bugs that could be causing you problems are.


There are 3 species of weevils:

  • Grain Weevil (Sitophilus granaries)
  • Rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae)
  • Maise Weevil (Sitophilus zeamais)
Tomasz Klejdysz /

These evil weevils. You can guess by their names which weevils prefer which food – rice, grains, maise. Quinoa and buckwheat are also foods these bugs love to hide in (and feast on). They are harmless to people since they don’t carry diseases.

If you really want to save your rice and grains, you can remove them from the box or package, then place them in an airtight bag. Put it in the freezer for a week, and that should kill the larvae and bugs. The more obvious solution is to throw the rice away or compost it. Weevils infect rice while it’s still a crop, so it’s common and natural for them to be in the rice we buy.

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Flour beetles

  • Red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum)
  • Confused flour beetle (Tribolium confusum)
Tomasz Klejdysz /

These two types of flour beetles can be found in Australia. The confused flour beetle is often confused with the red flour beetle, which is how it got its name. Both of them are active little bugs that breed and live in damaged or milled grain. The flour beetle’s favourite foods are flour, oats, and bran, but it can also attack your spices, dried fruit, nutmeal, and more.

Even if they don’t carry any diseases, they can ruin your products with their secretions. Since they prefer damaged grains and a high-moisture environment, usually the food gets mouldy.

Pantry moths

stockfoto /

The pantry moth, or Indian meal moth, can drive a person insane. When the infestation goes unnoticed for an extended period of time, they seem like they appear out of thin air. Moths and their eggs and larvae are the last things you want to find. But you should do it before it gets out of hand.

Search for their breeding place thoroughly, even if this means you’ll have to empty every cupboard. Throwing away food might not cut it as they’ll stick around while you bring them the new packet of flour, grains, or seeds. For a thorough explanation of how to get rid of moths, read our dedicated guide.

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Sanit Fuangnakhon /

There is nothing like a cockroach infestation. It’s one of the worst things that can live in your home (maybe not for Aussies, but it’s still a nuisance), and it can seem impossible to get rid of them.

To prevent them from sticking around, you should avoid leaving food around, clean often, and don’t leave spills, crumbs, and grains. If you have a cockroach infestation, then it’s pretty certain that you’ll need the help of a professional to get rid of the little buggers. Make sure you act immediately when you notice signs of them in your home.

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gstalker /

Ants are no joke and can be a big problem to deal with. Make sure that you do your best to find either the nest or the entry point. You are more likely to find the latter. To keep them from coming back, you can either seal the crack or spray with a chemical that will make them go away.

If you want to go chemical-free and use a natural product, spices like cinnamon do a great job of deterring ants. That method is also applicable to most pantry pests; however, you might also want to keep an eye on old spices. They are the perfect breeding ground for pantry beetles, as we mentioned above.

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  • Don’t store grains, flour, cereal, or pasta in their original packaging, use canisters that you can close tightly.
  • Identifying the pests is an important step of the process as it gives you an idea of whether or not they carry diseases or are just a nuisance.
  • Insects like ants and cockroaches can carry diseases while walking around and infecting your food.
  • For an ongoing pest infestation, hire a pest controller to treat your place. Additionally, you can book a deep cleaning service to erase any tracks of your pest issues.

Do you have a pest infestation in your kitchen?

Don’t wait. Book a professional exterminator!

Add a valid postcode e.g. 3000
  • We're certified:

Have you encountered any of these stored food pests? How did you take care of the problem? Leave a comment down below!

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