Kitchen Hack: What To Do When Bugs Invade Your Pantry

Last Update: June 9, 2023

No matter where you find them, insects can be seriously gross. But the kitchen might just be the worst place to discover a bug infestation in your home.

If you’ve ever opened up your pantry to discover creepy crawlies helping themselves to your food, you know that one little bug can turn into a huge (and disgusting) problem. Prevent a full fledged attack before it happens—without chemicals or toxic bug sprays.

All kinds of bugs—from weevils, to flour beetles, to meal moths, and many more—can find their way into your pantry. These insects love your dry goods, and will burrow into just about anything. Your flours, grains, cereals, nuts, seeds, and even pet food are all at risk.

If you see any moths, beetles, or bugs in your pantry, the first thing to do is get rid of any infested foods. Though it’s annoying to have to throw everything out, trust us—you’ll be glad to get rid of those little buggers.

Keeping your pantry clean will help keep insects out. Wipe down all of your shelves regularly with white vinegar, and add a few drops of an essential oil. Citronella, eucalyptus, and tea tree oils will all help ward off bugs.

Next, you can go into prevention mode. When you bring any dry goods home from the grocery store, toss them into the freezer for a few days. This will kill off any bugs that could have gotten into your food on the store shelf or during shipping. To be extra careful, store your dry goods in airtight glass or metal jars and canisters to keep any bugs from getting inside. Also try to limit yourself to buying no more than you can use in a month or two—the more attractive food you keep in your pantry, the more likely you are to get bugs.

Bugs also don’t like bay leaves. To keep weevils out of your flour, try stuffing a few bay leaves into the open container. Martha Stewart recommends taping a few bay leaves to the sides and bottom of your pantry shelves to keep bugs out, too.

An added bonus? All of these methods are completely nontoxic and environmentally friendly—something extra important when you’re cleaning in such close proximity to your food. There’s no need to call an exterminator or turn to chemical-laden sprays and wipes.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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