One of the best things about the holiday season is all the home-baked cookies, pastries, cakes, and other assorted treats that are served in a seemingly never-ending supply. There always seems to be room for just one more chocolate chip or gingerbread cookie!
As the holiday baking season swings into full gear, cookie and cake aficionados need to keep one eye on the oven timer and another on making sure unwanted pests don’t play Scrooge when it comes to their baking efforts.
Pests that can threaten your holiday baking include various species of moths and beetles. These insects can spoil grain products in your pantry where their larvae feed; they also leave behind fecal pellets, cast skins, and eggshells.
Indian meal moths are the most commonly encountered stored-product pest in homes. Adult Indian meal moths are reddish to yellowish brown in color, with reddish-brown wings that have a copper sheen to them. They are approximately a half inch in length with a a half-inch wingspan. They are attracted to light and are often spotted indoors flying in a fluttering pattern. They will feed on whole grains, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, crackers, birdseed, and dry dog food.
Other important stored-product pests include the merchant grain beetle and red flour beetle, both of which enjoy feasting on flour, baking mixes, spices and nuts – all staples of holiday cooking. The confused flour beetle, called that because it looks so similar to the red flour beetle, likes spices.
When these nuisance pests gain access to your pantry, they not only leave a bad odor and taste behind, but they also render baking and cooking foodstuffs useless. This, of course, can put a real damper on your holiday food plans.
The Clark Man recommends that holiday bakers follow these tips to prevent pantry pests from ruining the ingredients for those holiday pies, cookies, and cakes:
- Store sugar, flour, spices, chocolate, coconut, and other baking staples in tight-fitting plastic containers
- Check for signs of pest infestation, such as torn/opened bags or a bad odor, before you leave the grocery store
- When unloading your purchases, make sure pests did not hitch a ride home in your shopping bag, or container of cake or brownie mix
- Clean up food spills on kitchen shelves and counters immediately
- Rotate baking supplies in your pantry and discard of any old or expired items
If you think you have a problem with pantry pests, contact Clark Pest Control at 800/WE-NEED-YOU or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will come out, make a proper identification, and provide a treatment recommendation.
Until next time, I’m the Clark Man, and thanks for helping me keep unwanted pests out of your home.