Which Bug is in My Cupboard? Identifying Canadian Pantry Pests


There are many different types of insects that can get into your pantry and feed on your dry foods. The most common pantry insects in Canada are moths, beetles and weevils and they are more of a nuisance than a hazard. 

They can’t bite or sting, they can’t cause structural damage to your home, and they are not toxic even if accidentally ingested. The biggest threat they pose is causing your food to mould and spoil and they can be a headache to get rid of. Pantry bugs are also not a sign of poor housekeeping; they typically trojan-horse their way into the home inside dry goods. After reading this article you will be able to identify which Canadian pantry pest is infesting your kitchen and how to get rid of them. 

Prevention Tip:
Clean all surfaces in the kitchen and pantry regularly and clean hard-to-reach areas that accumulate crumbs a couple of times a year. 

Pantry moth

Pantry Moths

Moths are often the easiest pantry pest to identify as the adults conspicuously fly around. In Canada, the most common moth that infests kitchens is the Indianmeal moth which is slightly smaller than the size of a penny and is brown with occasional tints of red or grey. They are also sometimes called flour moths or grain moths. 

It is not, however, the adult moths that eat your food. In fact, once they are fully grown they do not eat at all and only live for a couple of weeks with the sole purpose of reproducing. Rather, it is the moth larvae that munch on your food. After hatching from their eggs the larvae grow to be 1-2 cm long and take on a whitish colour. They produce a silk webbing that covers the surface of whatever food they are feeding on. This webbing is often one of the earliest signs of pantry moths but it is often overlooked as homeowners assume it belongs to spiders and not moths. 

Prevention Tip:
Inspect dry goods at the grocery store and never purchase items with broken packaging. 

Confused flour beetle

Pantry Beetles

The most common Canadian pantry beetle is the confused flour beetle, as the name suggests these insects love flour and often lay their eggs through rips and holes in flour bags. They can less commonly be found in dried grains, fruits, nuts, and spices. The infested grains will soon turn a greyish colour and will mould much easier. 

They have hard outer shells, as is characteristic of beetles, a rusty colour and are about half a centimetre long, they are often mistaken for the almost identical saw-toothed grain beetle. Their small slender bodies allow them to easily infiltrate packaging. The adults can live for up to 3 years with the females producing approximately 2 eggs every day. The eggs can also lay dormant in food for 3 months before hatching if the environment is not ideal.

Prevention Tip:
Use air-tight containers to store dry goods, this way if one jar is infested you only have to pitch the one jar and not the entire pantry.

Rice weevil

Pantry Weevils

Weevils are technically a type of beetle but have an odd long nose that gives them a distinct appearance. The adults are dark in colour and generally smaller than half a centimetre long. You won’t see their larva as they grow inside of the grains and only emerge once fully grown. 

Weevils are attracted to different grains depending on the species, the most common include rice weevils, maize weevils, and granary weevils. Grains infested by weevils become sticky over time and this added moisture encourages the grain to sprout and mould. 

Prevention Tip:
Avoid storing large quantities of grain and only buy what you need for 2-3 months at a time. If you must keep a stockpile, keep the temperature low or even store your grain in a freezer.

Vacuuming pantry

How to Get Rid of Pantry Pests

  1. Dispose of all infested items. Make sure to use an outdoor garbage can as leaving them in your kitchen trash can be counter-productive and allow the insects to spread. Don’t forget to inspect your pet’s kibble as well. 
  2. Inspect all unaffected products. Any pantry items you intend to keep need to be thoroughly inspected even non-food items and jars. Beetles especially will hide in any small crack they can including under cans, in cardboard folds and under shelf liners. 
  3. Clean thoroughly. Vacuum the entire area paying special attention to corners and cracks. Make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag in the outside bin as well when you’re done. 
  4. Apply pesticide treatment. The area should then be treated with a pesticide to ensure the lifecycle is broken. Make sure all food is sealed away while the pesticide treatment is in process. You can do this yourself or call on a pest control professional if you are unsure of how to safely and effectively apply the product. 

Terminix Canada offers expert pest control services for both residential and commercial properties. We have local pest control experts at locations across Canada including BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Call us today to learn how we can help.