How Long Do Pantry Bugs Live? Identification & Control

To understand how long pantry bugs live, you have to first understand their life cycles. Different pantry bugs have a different life span and so is their life cycles.

  • Could be, you have spotted a beetle, a moth, a grain weevil. All these and others are the common pantry bugs we expect to find in kitchens, stores, and warehouses.

After noting several pantry bugs in my kitchen, this prompted me to know more about these bugs and how long they live.

How long do pantry bugs live? – Pantry Bugs Life Cycle

The life span of pantry bugs totally depends on their species. If you want to know how long a pantry bug live, you first need to know its species.

The most common pantry bugs in our kitchen and stores are moths. But which moths are they exactly? I have analyzed some of these common bugs and for easy identification and listed their life cycles.

1. Warehouse Beetle

This warehouse beetle is a very common pantry bug in your food store and kitchen. In most cases, you will find it in cereals, flour, cookies, nuts, cornmeal, dried peas, and beans among others.

This beetle is oval in shape and has a reddish-brown color with a yellow pattern on its wings.

Life cycle

The warehouse beetle has a life span of approximately 3-6 months. But its life cycle from egg to adult can take approximately 30-45 days.

  • Its life cycle begins when a female beetle lays her eggs on the infested food. The female beetle can lay about 90 eggs in its lifespan. These fertilized eggs hatch into larvae after about 6 days.
  • The larvae stage is the most active stage and also very destructive. When they grow, the larvae develop hair and the abdomen also elongates. They also develop setae which they later shed and leave on the food.
  • Consuming this seta is very irritating and unhealthy too. If your food is infested by setae, it is advisable to dispose of it.

The larvae later turn into a pupa which takes about 6 days to turn into an adult. After this metamorphosis, the adult mates and can easily be spotted on light bulbs.

2. Indianmeal Moths

This is the most common pantry bug in the kitchen. They are commonly found in North America, Europe among other areas. Their common scientific name is Plodia Interpuctella

You are likely to spot them in your homestead in foods like cereals, rice, dried vegetables and fruits, flour, nuts, candies, and chocolates among others.

Life cycle

This moth has 4 growth stages-egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. The full life cycle takes between 30-300 days from egg to an adult moth.

  • A female Indian meal moth can lay an average of 60-400 eggs in its life span. A female moth lays all the eggs within a span of 18 days. These eggs are laid on the food surface and take about 4-10 days for them to hatch into larvae.
  • This larvae stage is the most destructive and takes about 2-3 months. It consumes the food while excreting the waste (frass) and webbing which contaminates the whole package making it inconsumable.
  • The number of days on this stage is also dependent on so many other factors like food and temperatures and some larvae can live up to 210 days.

The larvae then transform into a pupa which is dormant and the non-feeding stage. The larvae make cocoons and live there.

  • Within 15-10 days, the pupae transform into an adult pantry moth. The adults break from the cocoon and can be easily spotted as they fly over the lights and walls.
  • The adult stage takes between 5-25 days and its major purpose is mating. Surprisingly, the adult moths do not have mouths and are not able to feed.

In general, the Idianmeal moth has a life span of 27-300 days.

3. Red and Confused Flour Beetle

These are two species of small beetle that are very similar and are reddish-brown in color. The red flour beetle and the confused flour beetle.

  • To differentiate them the red flour beetle has the last 4 segments enlarged while the confused flour beetle has the last 3 segments enlarged towards the tail.

These are a common pantry bug in the United States and mostly attack grains, nuts, and milled cereals.

Life cycle

The red and the confused flour beetles have an average life span of 1-2 years. Their life cycle begins when a female lays eggs with sticky secretion on the grains and cereals. Its life cycle has 3 cycles-egg, larvae, and adult.

  • The females lay about 200-500 eggs in their life span. These eggs are small, clear, and white and hatch in a span of 5-12 days.
  • The larvae take about 30-120 days to mature but this depends on the temperature and food. These larvae feed grain kernels and slowly turn into white pupae. As the pupae grow it slowly turns yellow.
  • As it turns into an adult beetle, the pupae change color into reddish-brown.

This life cycle from eggs to adults takes about 6 weeks. However, the life cycle of the red flour beetle is shorter than that of the confused flour beetle.

The adult stage feeds and mates and the cycle continues.

How to Control Pantry Bugs

Most pantry bugs have a very fast multiplication rate-they lay eggs in hundreds and have a very short to average life span. Moreover, some bugs can survive for many days without feeding making it a challenge to control them.

1. Use of Pheromone Traps.

The pheromone stick traps are some of the best ways to control pantry bugs. They are useful if there is already an infestation in your kitchen and food store.

  • If you have already spotted moths and beetles in your stores, it’s a clear indication that there is a high infestation that needs to be stopped.
  • Pheromone traps play an important role in stopping any further reproduction and multiplication of the bugs.

It is also chemical-free and also safe for use in your household. You can find these traps in the local retailers.

2. Proper Sealing and Sanitation

Most pantry bugs enter the foods and drugs because of the poor and open packaging. The moment they get inside they get a good chance to feed and multiply.

By keeping your foods tightly sealed and in a properly sanitized area, you are able to control any infestation of your food.

3. Disposing of the already infested foods

If your food is already infested with pantry bugs, sometimes the best way to prevent any further infestation is through disposing of it.

Disposing of will also prevent any risk of consuming the pantry bugs which could pose a health risk.

Final Thoughts

How long do pantry bugs live? Well, there are different kinds of pantry bugs and their life span depends on the species and their life cycle.

  • Some bugs are destructive at certain stages of the life cycle-say larvae and others at another stage-say adult.
  • If you spot these pantry bugs in your home, you can also take a physical action and employ the control measures listed above to stop their further spread.
  • Most importantly, nobody wants bugs in their home, and proper sanitation and proper and constantly checking your store and foods could minimize the potential of infestation.

Lastly, ensure your food product is tightly sealed at all times.

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