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Do Pantry Bugs Like Sugar?

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Many homeowners find bugs in their pantries and cupboards, infesting the foods they eat. A variety of pantry pests are attracted to processed foods that are high in sugar. Breakfast cereals, chocolate and sugary dried fruit are favorites of pantry bugs. Locating the source of the infestation and eliminating it is key to controlling pantry bug infestations.


Sawtoothed grain beetles are commonly found in pantries and cupboards. This beetle feeds on processed packaged foods, oatmeal and birdseed. Adult sawtoothed grain beetles are brownish-red and 1/4 inch in length. These beetles lay their shiny, white eggs in food. Sawtoothed grain beetles can have as many as seven generations each year. Indian meal moths are another common pantry pest that is attracted to sugary cereals, fruit and candy. Adult moths are reddish-brown and have a wingspan of 3/4 inch in length. These moths lay their eggs around kitchens, and the eggs hatch into white larvae. According to North Dakota State University, Indian meal moths infest almost every type of cereal product and are also attracted to pet food.


Sawtoothed grain beetles are often found in kitchen cupboards and cabinets where sugar has spilled from baking. The larvae of this pest pupate in infested foods and emerge as adults within one week. Sawtoothed grain beetles are often brought into homes in infested grocery items and can penetrate packaged foods. Indian meal moths are often found in packaged cereals, nuts and flour. This insect places a silky web on the surface of infested food. The larvae of Indian meal moths prefer to infest dried fruits, sugary cereal and coarse grades of flour.

Cultural Control

Keep all sugary foods in tightly sealed containers to prevent infestations of pantry bugs. Clean up any sugar or flour that spills on your countertops and in your kitchen cabinets, as these pests are drawn to spilled food. Place sugary dried fruits inside a glass container that is insect-proof. Inspect your breakfast cereals and other packaged foods for signs of damage that may allow insects easy access. Purchase sugary foods in small sizes so they can be used up in a short period of time. Avoid storing any food products for longer than four months to prevent pantry bug infestations.


According to Oregon State University, pesticides are not recommended for the control of bugs where food is prepared or stored. Throw away all infested food items, and vacuum up any spilled sugar or food items. Pay close attention to cracks and crevices where infestations are found, and remove the vacuum cleaner bag as soon as you've finished with cleanup. Place the bag in a trash can outdoors to prevent reinfestations.

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