Insects infesting stored foods are one of the most common household insect problems, the many different kinds of insects that infest stored dried foods are often referred to as "pantry pests.
Discovering "bugs" in your breakfast cereal may be disgusting, but it isn't unusual, because many insects like to eat what we do. Stored foods commonly infested include flour, cereals, cracked grains, baking mixes and processed foods, crackers, macaroni, cured meats, powdered milk, dried fruits, nuts, popcorn and spices. Insects that feed on these products may also infest other grain-based items such as pet foods, birdseed and ornamental corn. Dried flower arrangements may also be attacked.
Pantry pests contaminate more food than they consume, and most people find the contaminated products unfit for consumption. Pantry pests are often discovered when they leave infested foods to crawl or fly about the house. They often accumulate in pots, pans or dishes or on window sills. Fortunately, they do not bite or sting people or pets nor do they feed on or damage the house structure or contents.
Nearly all dried food products are susceptible to insect infestation, including cereal products (flour, cake mix, cornmeal, rice, spaghetti, crackers, and cookies); seeds such as dried beans and popcorn; nuts; chocolate; raisins and other dried fruits; spices; powdered milk; tea; and cured meats. Non-food items that may be infested include birdseed, dry pet food, ornamental seed and dried plant displays, ornamental corn, dried flowers, garden seeds, potpourri, and rodent baits.
A stored food product can become infested anywhere during the process from production until it arrives in your home. However, stored food is most likely to become infested in stores or in homes. Most of the stored food insects also are pests of stored grain or other commodities and may be relatively abundant outdoors. Food products that are left undisturbed on the shelves for long periods are particularly susceptible to infestation. However, foods of any age can become infested.