Falling victim to an insect infestation is bad enough, but any homeowner or tenant who experiences an infestation of bacteria-ridden beetles in their stored food items is particularly unlucky. Pest species of stored foods are distributed worldwide, and numerous species inhabit the northeast US states. Moths, beetles, ants and their larvae are the most common groups of insects that infest foods stored within pantries and kitchen cupboards. Several beetle species that are categorized as “flour beetles” infest milled grain products, such as cereals and flour, hence their nickname. The “rust red flour beetle” and the “confused flour beetle” are two major stored food pest species commonly found infesting homes in the northeast. Both of these species are notable for their ability to rapidly reproduce, causing indoor infestations to become unmanageable within a short timeframe.

The confused flour beetle and the red rust flour beetle both share the same habitat, and the two species look so similar that even pest control professionals can have a hard time telling them apart. The confused flour beetle is found infesting homes in the northeast more often than the red rust flour beetle, and each species can be eradicated with the same pest control methods. Both of these species infest homes by hitching rides within newly purchased food items, but they can also enter homes on their own. Most infestations start after these species emerge from contaminated flour packages or cereal boxes, as the insects often invade food items at storage warehouses or while the foods are being processed. Eradicating these insects is relatively difficult, as their tiny size allows them to hide within tiny cracks and crevices located well beyond the kitchen area where they usually arrive first. It is also not uncommon to find confused and red rust carpet beetles infesting furniture, but by the time these insects reach a living room area they have no doubt already established a large population within a number of stored foods. These beetles are often found infesting barley, cereals, corn, cornmeal, crackers, oats, rice, nutmeats, dried fruits, legume seeds, beans, chocolate, peas, powdered milk and many other foods. A fumigation is sometimes necessary to rid a structure of a flour beetle infestation, but in some cases, simply removing all infested food items from a home will suffice to end an infestation.

Have you ever found tiny insects within your cereal? If so, were they still alive?