Pantry Pests

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Rice weevils closely resemble grain weevils but can be separated their larger size and strong flying capabilities. They are typically just over an eighth-inch in length and are reddish brown to black in color. Like grain weevils, rice weevils also bore holes in grain kernels to deposit their eggs. However, rice weevils migrate by flight to infest grains such as rice, corn, and wheat. After harvest, infested grain mixed with clean grain causes widespread contamination during storage. Other differences of the two weevils is that the rice weevil will produce more eggs, but will only live up to six months.


Cigarette beetles can be easily distinguished by their humped appearance and downward-pointed head. They are typically about an eighth-inch long and are reddish brown with a hint of yellow. Female cigarette beetles will attach their eggs to stored food products such as tobacco, rice, grains, raisins, and other stored products. Thus, these are the most common products where they can be found inhabiting. The females can produce up to 30 eggs over a 3-week period and they each hatch out after about one week. Cigarette beetles are generally located in the pantry infesting products that are not in jars or cans and the easiest way to eradicate the problem is to start on the lower shelves and work upward because they gravitate downward.


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Flour beetles come in two forms, the confused flour beetle and the red flour beetle. Both of there varieties are considered to be the most common and the most serious pests of flour, cereal, and broken grains. They are closely related, similar in appearance, and are capable of emitting a gaseous secretion when disturbed. The adult flour beetles are about one inch in length, have a flattened shape, and are a shiny reddish brown. They live for about two years and the females are capable of producing 400 – 500 eggs in their lifetime.

Grain Weevil

Granary weevils are serious grain pests that are very distinguished from other beetles by a slender elongated snout. They are typically about an eighth-inch long and are dark brown or black in color. They also have multiple punctures on the top side of the thorax (chest) and nonfunctional wings. The grain weevil is closely related to the rice weevil but can be separated by their slightly smaller size and they fly poorly. Grain weevils bore holes into grain kernels to deposit their eggs. They have become adapted to living entirely in stored grains and rarely forage elsewhere. Females are capable of living up to 8 months when food is abundant and can lay approximately 200 – 300 eggs during this time.

Indian Meal Moth

The Indianmeal moth is the most common pest of coarsely ground flours such as whole wheat and cornmeal. They are also a common predator of shelled and ear corn, broken grains, dried fruit, crackers, nuts, dry dog food, peas, and beans. Indianmeal moths are well known for spinning large amounts of webbing that further contaminates food products. These webs, forming cocoons, are usually found in higher elevations, commonly in the crevice where the ceiling and drywall come together.

Indianmeal moth adults are multi-colored with reddish brown and a coppery luster. They also have pale gray wings with a wingspan of about ¾-inch. The reproduction period usually begins in the springtime. Females normally lay their eggs at night and are capable of laying eggs in small amounts or great masses producing between 200 – 400. Their complete life cycle takes between six and eight weeks.

Sawtoothed Grain Beetle

The Sawtoothed grain beetle gets its name from the six projections contained on each side of thorax (chest). The adults are about one-tenth of an inch in length and are reddish brown to dark brown in color. They are long and narrow with flattened bodies, giving them access to small cracks and crevices. Sawtoothed grain beetles have well developed wings, although they have not been seen flying. The adults tend to run very rapidly over stored food products.

Adult females will lay their eggs one-by-one or in small batches near suitable food sources for the larvae. They are capable of laying between 45 – 285 eggs that will hatch in about 8 days. Their life cycle generally takes about six weeks. However, temperature and humidity affect the development time and the number of instars.