Archived Story

Kitchen pests unwelcome [UPDATED]

Published 9:53am Monday, December 3, 2012 Updated 11:56am Monday, December 3, 2012

If you have discovered a small brown oval, beetle dashing around in your pantry, you probably have drugstore beetles, and a major problem.

This guy is about one-eighth of an inch long. Its head is pointed down, hidden from above by what looks like a hood. The immature beetles are small whitish “C” shaped larvae.

These little monsters commonly infest cereal products, spices, seeds, beans and dry pet foods. However, Jeff Hahn, our U of M bug guy, says they will feed on almost any stored food product.

They have been known to eat drugs, including strychnine, red pepper, book bindings and chew through tinfoil and sheet lead.

They will even tackle wool, hair, leather and dead insects. Not a bug you want in your house.

The key to controlling drugstore beetles is finding their food source and disposing of it. Bird seed and dry pet food can be wrapped and stuck in the freezer for four days, or put outside for that long if the temperature is zero or colder.

Un-opened dry foods, older than two months, should get the same treatment. Any product infested should be wrapped and chucked, unless the wild birds will eat it. Then put it out for them. They love fresh bugs in the winter. You can vacuum up any beetles you see. Spraying them is neither practical nor necessary. It will not eliminate them. To do that, you have to discover what and where they have been feeding.

First check dry food that is not eaten regularly. Remove any spilled food or crumbs. Check your bird food and dog and cat food if it is stored inside.

Look in the spice drawer, toaster, and any other place that might harbor a food source for the beetles. If you wonder about a package, dump it out and examine it carefully. Disinfecting these areas doesn’t bother the beetles at all. Get the vacuum out and suck out any cracks, or hard to reach spaces that might have beetle food in it. The stinkers will die without a food source.

If, however, you see them again after all this, you will have to start all over again as there is still some of their favorite food someplace.

Now to a totally unrelated subject. Do not leave leaves on the lawn over the winter.

While they may keep some of the moisture in the soil, they also smother the grass and can almost ensure you will have snow mold under them. This will leave your grass lover tearing his hair out next spring when he sees the result.

Either rake or chop up any remaining leaves.

 

Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.

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