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Pantry Pest Control: What to do about Uninvited Thanksgiving Guests

Pantry Pest - Confused Flour BeetleIn rural places like Roseburg, pest control sometimes includes turkey hunting. Typically, turkeys have been transplanted to these locations, and without natural predators, local gobbler populations explode out of control. In Roseburg, pest control for turkeys became necessary after they were imported from Texas in the 1980s. To this day, Roseburg remains the top turkey-hunting destination in Oregon. Many Roseburg farmers earn supplementary income by opening their farms to turkey hunting.

However, unless you’re a farmer in Roseburg, rodent control and insect minimization are probably at the top of your list for Thanksgiving pest management. During the Thanksgiving holiday, residential pest control usually centers on the pantry, where certain pests have everything they need to thrive: warm temperatures, lots of food and a nearby water source. Pantry pests such as Indian meal moths, cigarette beetles, rodents and weevils thrive on the kinds of carbohydrate-rich foods we tend to store in our cupboards – cereal, flour, crackers, etc. Still, understanding why bugs and rodents are attracted to Thanksgiving supplies can’t nullify the nausea that comes with finding bugs in your food stash. Fortunately, you can take a few steps to prevent pantry pests in the first place.

Just as fruit flies appear in your kitchen after hatching from eggs on the skin of bananas and other fruits, many pantry pests catch a ride into your pantry within packaged foods. And once they’re in your home, they can multiply swiftly. For instance, a single female moth can easily lay hundreds of eggs. Therefore, be extremely vigilant as you open new foods.

Usually, infested food contains bugs in the egg stage. If you’re don’t notice them, these eggs will hatch, feed, become pupae and plague the rest of the food stores in your pantry. In addition to the eggs themselves, small holes in the packaging and webbing in the close-fitting parts of the package are telltale signs of an insect infestation. Finally, if the infestation is more mature, your first clue may be the presence of moths, worms or small brown beetles on counters and in cupboards. Roseburg rodent control experts would also tell you to be on the lookout for mice and rat droppings, which are sure signs that you have a residential pest control problem. Other signs of a rodent infestation include gnaw marks, squeaks, pet excitement, urine pools or trails, and nests.

From Roswell to Roseburg, pest control experts recommend the following steps if you discover that your Thanksgiving stash is infested:

  • If the food was recently purchased, stick it in a bag in the freezer for four days. This will kill the insects. Then you can take the purchase (with your receipt) back to the store and get a refund.
  • If the food wasn’t purchased recently, place the infested food in a sealed container and dispose of it in the outdoor trash.
  • Finally, if you’re one of those brave souls who would rather sift through food for insect bodies than lose otherwise edible food, you can kill the pests via temperature control. Four days in your freezer or two hours of temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit will kill most pests.

You can avoid the need for this form of residential pest control by carefully examining food in the grocery store. When selecting bulk grains, look for any signs of insects.

If you do discover a pest infestation in your pantry, take these steps:

1. Carefully examine your entire food supply for infestation. Throw away or salvage food as described above.

2. Empty cupboards and vacuum them out. Discard the vacuum bag in the outdoor trash afterward to prevent a second wave of infestation.

3. Set out species-specific traps. Non-toxic sticky traps are available for many pantry pests. These traps are modeled after the female sex pheromone for each species. Males become trapped, interrupting the breeding cycle. Snap traps, glue traps and live traps are also obtainable for rodents.

4. Store all food in glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep a clean kitchen to minimize food sources for future infestations.

Finally, if a persistent infestation has you stressed out about this Thanksgiving holiday, call your local Eugene or Roseburg pest control company. They will be able to clear your home of creepy crawlies, leaving you free to enjoy the gratitude of turkey day.

[ photo by: Thos003 ]

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