A variety of different insects attack cereals, flour, herbs, spices, chocolate, dried fruits and similar items in our homes. A few of these insects may be present but go unnoticed. The pests are usually not noticed in the home until they become abundant.
Insects found in flour and cereal are often referred to as weevils; however, the most common insect pantry pest in Eastern US is the Indian meal moth. It prefers such foods as chocolate, dried fruits, bird feed, and dry dog food. A common flour, pasta and cereal pest is the saw-toothed grain beetle. Various other species of beetles are also common pantry pests and infest a wide variety of food items. Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles are occasional pests, but they prefer dried plant materials such as herbs and spices.
How do these pests get into our food? Occasionally, some may find their way inside from outdoors; however, the majority of these pests are in food products brought into the home. The initial infestation can originate at the processing plant, the warehouse, the delivery vehicle, or the retail store (chances of becoming infested increase the longer a food item is stored at the same location).
Beetles and moths have four stages in their development: egg, larva, pupa and adult. All stages may be present in the food, but the eggs are so tiny they are seldom seen. The larval stage is most destructive, but the adult stage is most often seen.