The holidays are a great time to gather with friends and family, and it’s made all the sweeter with all the baked goods and sugary treats! But pantry pests can sour the moment by ruining your flour, cake mixes and other goods. To keep the holiday baking festivities as happy as possible, follow these tips to protect your groceries from pantry pests.

Shop Smart

Carefully inspect items for damage before you bring them into your home.

Pantry pests are commonly brought into the home through items that were already infested when purchased. When shopping, check for damage on the packaging. If there is any indication of wear and tear, choose another box or bag. While you’re at the store, pick up some bay leaves. The potent scent deters and repels many pantry pests.

Clean out the cabinets

Empty pantry completely and inspect for signs of pests.

Sift through your pantry and look for expired items or items with damaged boxes. Discard these groceries and make a list of what needs replacing. Then, remove the rest of the foodstuffs and inspect the storage space. Look for any signs of an existing infestation such as droppings, gnaw marks, oil marks, or actual pests. If you spot any of these signs, consider calling a professional pest control company to get rid of the pest before storing food in there again. However, if there is no indication of an infestation, go ahead and wipe down the surfaces of the cabinet. This will remove any crumbs that could have dropped into the corners which will make the space more unattractive to pests.

Store items in sealed containers

Store items like flour and sugar in plastic or glass containers with tight fitting lids.

Since you have your dry goods out already, consider investing in some sturdy plastic or glass containers to store items such as sugar or flour. The paper or plastic bags these particular items come in are very easy for pests to chew through. A plastic or glass container is harder to chew through and also keeps the pantry staple fresh for longer. The container should also have a tight fitting lid so pests can’t squeeze in.

Common Pantry Pests

Both Indian meal moths and merchant grain beetles are attracted to chocolate.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), two common pantry pests are the Indian meal moth and the merchant grain beetle. Indian meal moths prefer dried fruits, grains, seeds, nut, sweets, dog food, and powdered milk. They have elongated, oval bodies with a copper reddish coloring on the wings. Merchant grain beetles have a brown, narrow oval body. These pests are approximately 1/10th of an inch. It’s small size enables it to crawl into packaging to eat, live and reproduce. Unlike the Indian meal moths, these insects are not found in grain products, but they do like cereals, cake mixes, macaroni, cookies and chocolate. If you discover either of these pests in your pantry, discard infested items in an outdoor trash receptacle and then vacuum the cabinet. You should also disinfect the storage space with soap and water.

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