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Keeping the Pests Away

2011 November 10

By Lina Younes

Recently, I had a bug infestation in my pantry. Nope. I’m not talking about cockroaches, ants or rodents. There were numerous small beetle-like bugs attacking foods like flour, dry cereals, and even boxed pasta products. I was surprised to see the infestation given the fact that I’ve always strived to abide by integrated pest management practices. Didn’t think that this was happening in our household!

My husband’s immediate reaction was to suggest spraying the whole place with an insecticide to get rid of the bugs. I agreed with discarding those products that seemed to be the focus of the infestation, but I didn’t want to spray an area that would be in contact with food. I didn’t want insecticide residues to remain in my pantry long after the spraying. So, I set aside several hours to empty the pantry completely. I discarded all the cereals and flour-based products in bags and boxes. I cleaned the pantry thoroughly to get rid of any crumbs or remnants of those unwanted critters. Then, I put the canned goods back in. Any new cereals or flour-based products were placed in plastic or glass containers before going in the pantry.

There are simple tips on how to prevent pests from entering your home. If you’ve eliminated the sources of food, water and shelter first, it is unlikely that they will seek refuge in your home. However, if you’ve taken preventive measures and they still become a nuisance, then you should apply low-risk pesticides properly. Remember that using more is not always better, Cleanliness and these simple steps can go a long way to keep your home pest-free.

So, it’s been several weeks since the get-rid-of-the-bugs operation. I’m happy to report that the pantry is still bug-free. Have you had a similar bug attack? How have you eliminated these unwanted creatures? Send us your comments. We would like to know.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as the Multilingual Communications Liaison. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. Katie Lubinsky permalink
    November 10, 2011

    I commend you for your cleanliness and that I try to clean my whole apartment at least once a week and I think I do a pretty good job. I am experiencing a mini-infestation of silverfish though at the moment and would love to hear any advice in getting rid of them (preferable without the use of poisons). Thanks for your article!

  2. Katherine permalink
    November 10, 2011

    I recently had an infestation of fruit flies that cut into my tomato season :( I finally got rid of them once it got colder here in Portland, I began taking out my trash religiously, and every time I was done cleaning from dinner I sprayed the kitchen down with a Windex-like spray-the sink especially.

  3. alexander permalink
    November 12, 2011

    i think that cockroaches, ants, rodents and, even, small beetle-like bugs don’t want to play dirty to us. These creatures want to eat only. The Earth is our common house and we should be tolerant with each other.

  4. Larry Dapsis permalink
    November 14, 2011

    You can also periodically place packaged dry goods in the freezer for a day.

  5. Linda permalink
    November 14, 2011

    We had a similar infestation last year – and I took the same steps you did. I finally located the source of the infestation in a bag of rice – turns out the unopened package had a tiny puncture that had let it become a “taxi” for some tiny black beetles. I pitched all of the grain products that were infested (or *MIGHT* have been infested), cleaned the shelves thoroughly, put down fresh shelf paper, then bought new supplies which were transfered to airtight glass or hard plastic containers before they were stored away. A hint that I picked up many years ago is to place one or two dry bay leaves in my flour and cornmeal canisters – the bay leave repel meal moths, so I have never had a problem with that particular trouble-maker. A good hint for household recycling: use the resealable plastic containers that coffee and sugar now come in as canisters for your pantry. They’re nice and sturdy, hold several pounds, and have lids that make a good tight seal and an easy-to grab handle. They work well in the home workshop, too.

  6. Lucinda permalink
    February 2, 2012

    Had the same exact incident with these pesky creatures…my scenario was same as yours….Instead of using pesticides I wiped out the cupboards with water and bleach solution and recommend those purchasing pasta from discount stores to think twice as these pasta products may be comprimised with eggs waiting to hatch, such as my situation. I keep all dried goods in plastic containers and never purchase edible dried goods at discount venders. I have been free of the pests for several years and the plan has been successful.

  7. Lina-EPA permalink*
    February 2, 2012

    Good points. Glad you were able to keep those pesky creatures away as well.

  8. April 30, 2012

    Great article. I also read the how to prevent pests article. That was jampacked full of good information. Thank you Lina!

  9. Anirudh Bahadur permalink
    October 7, 2012

    Hi Lina,
    I am so looking forward to keep away wall lizards from entering my house. But I haven’t been able to find any good remedy for that. I don’t want to kill them. But I just hope I could find some good prevention method. They look so scary.

    Anirudh Bahadur

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