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If you see grain beetles in your food storage, you’re likely dealing with a pantry pest infestation. While food infested with grain beetles should not be consumed, they are otherwise harmless and not likely to bite or pass on diseases. Despite that, it’s disconcerting to see insect larvae in your food, and it can cost you a substantial amount of money if left untreated. For the most part, pantry pest control is as simple as keeping your cabinets clean and well-maintained; however, what these insects crave differs by the species. To learn more about the most common pantry pest beetles, what draws them to homes, and how to prevent an infestation, continue reading.

What Do Pantry Pests Look Like?

The pantry pest beetle known as the merchant grain beetle is just one type of pantry pest. These pests are very small at about 1/10 of an inch long. The merchant beetle has saw-toothed edges on its thorax, and its body is generally oval-shaped and brown. Packaging is not much of an obstacle for this species, as it can easily chew through cellophane, plastic, and foil. The merchant grain beetle does not spread disease, bite, or damage furniture, but it may contaminate large amounts of food, then spread throughout the house.


Another species of pantry pest beetle is the flour beetle. Flour beetles are generally reddish-brown with long, oval-shaped flattened bodies that grow to less than 1/8 of an inch. They are segmented into three parts: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. They prefer broken kernels and flour or food products made from ground and processed grain. These beetles have dense punctures that look like divots from the head to the middle of the thorax. Flour beetles cannot fly.

The final two pantry pest beetles are similar in appearance: the cigarette beetle and the drug store beetle. Cigarette beetles have a characteristic hunched shape as their head is a part of their thorax. These pests can grow to around 1/8 of an inch and are usually light brown. The drug store beetle is less hunched, having a more distinct separation between their heads and abdomens. Their longer abdomens are covered in divots in long, vertical rows.


The pantry pest is usually named for the type of food they were discovered in or tend to prefer, but most pantry pests will eat anything available. In every species, pantry pest larvae are deposited in food packages where they feed on the contents before moving out to mate and lay their own eggs. Sometimes packages bought from the store may already be infested with pantry pest larvae, and the infestation can then spread throughout your cabinets. One crucial aspect of pantry pest control is double-checking your packages to ensure there aren’t any lumps where larvae could be waiting.

How To Keep Beetles Away

The best pantry pest repellent is a clean cabinet with properly stored food. Some maintenance methods may not be as obvious as others, but these prevention methods are easy ways of keeping your food safe. To keep pantry pests from thriving should they make it into your home, practice these prevention tips:

  • Store food in sealed glass or metal containers.
  • Thoroughly check food packages before transferring them into sealed containers.
  • Use a silicone-based caulk to seal any cracks, divots, or holes in the cabinets, especially places where food can collect.
  • Clean cabinets and food receptacles regularly. Don’t let any spilled food sit.
  • Get rid of any products in your cabinet that are past their expiration dates. Toss out products that have been sitting for long periods even if they don’t expire.

In terms of pantry pest DIY traps and extermination methods, be wary of chemical pantry pest repellent or pantry pest traps. Pantry pest traps may be a good way to see if you have an infestation, but they aren’t a long-term solution.

How To Get Rid Of Pantry Pest Beetles

Every pantry pest infestation is different. While some may be able to control or get rid of their infestation by tossing out contaminated food, for others, professional pest control may be necessary. All-Safe Pest and Termite can help you, no matter the stage of your infestation, to protect your foods, treat the problem, and prevent future infestations. Whether you need a one-time treatment or would like to invest in regular visits from our pest control professionals, we have plans to suit your needs. All-Safe Pest & Termite is the most trusted name in safe, fast, and effective pest control in the Dallas area. For a free estimate from the pantry pest experts, call All-Safe Pest & Termite today.

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