What Are Pantry Pests? They May Be Living In Your Kitchen, So Here's What You Need To Do

Ad failed to load

When you think about your hygiene, your mind probably wanders to germs. You think about cleaning the bathroom, washing your hands, and maybe bleaching the kitchen counters — but do you even know what pantry pests are, let alone worry about them? As it turns out, germs might be the absolute least of your worries when it comes to cleaning your kitchen. Instead, you might want to spend a little bit more time thwarting those itty bitty insects that are taking up residence in your cabinets.

According to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, pantry pests are insects that "attack" foods that are tucked away in your cabinets, such as flour, cereals, herbs, spices, chocolate, and more.

But how do those creepy little intruders actually get in there? Well, the answer is kind of disturbing: They might come in from the outdoors, but according to Penn State, most of them are brought into your house already inside the food products you're stocking up on. Yuck.

Ad failed to load

Unfortunately, pantry pests are pretty difficult to spot with the human eye, which makes it all the more appalling. So yes, if you're thinking what I'm thinking, you're probably right: You've most likely already swallowed a pantry pest or two in your lifetime.

But before you throw out literally everything in your kitchen, consider this: Pantry pests are more likely to be in spices than anything else.

Ad failed to load

The most common foods for housing pantry pests, according to the Huffington Post, are spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and chili powder — aka pretty much any pepper-based spice you've got in your cabinets.

The reason why pantry pests seem to love spices more than anything else in your kitchen is pretty interesting. Jody Green, a board-certified entomologist at the Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, told the Huffington Post that spices are super rich in minerals and vitamins, "and paprika and cayenne have high prevalence of insect filth compared to other imported spices." Basically, Green explained, these pepper spices can provide insects with a hospitable environment to thrive in, because they contain the nutrients necessary for beetles to survive (even when the peppers are dried out and crushed) for long periods of time.

The most common pantry pests, according to HuffPost, are the drugstore beetle and the cigarette beetle. Great names, right?

Ad failed to load

The drugstore beetle is a small, oval-shaped insect that's approximately 2 millimeters long and brown in color. So, yeah, it's going to be pretty hard to spot when you're sifting through a bowl of brown rice. The cigarette beetle is a similar size, light brown in color, and got its name for its history of eating into stored tobacco containers. Yum!

Of course, to a certain extent, these pantry pests are kind of unavoidable. No matter how spotless your kitchen is, you still have to purchase food externally and bring it inside, and it's simply inevitable that you might bring a little insect friend home every once in a while.

Even though it's kind of yucky to think about, you can take some comfort in the fact that these bugs don't really pose any danger for your health. According to the pest control service Rose Pest Solutions, pantry pests don't carry or spread diseases, or anything like that, so if you do accidentally ingest one, there's no reason to panic. Honestly, you probably won't even notice them at all if you do eat them.

Ad failed to load

If you're one of the lucky ones who spots a pantry pest in your food, you should obviously throw it away, but before you do so, be sure to take a closer look at the package that the food came from. Also, keep in mind that pantry pests, like most insects, flourish in warm and humid conditions, according to the Food Network. In other words, it's more likely that you'll spot these little guys in the summertime than during any other season, so keep an eye out as the seasons start to change.

What you don't want to happen is for the insects to flourish and breed in your food, as infestations can happen really quickly.

Ad failed to load

For this reason, you should always rotate the products in your pantry, Green explained to Huffington Post. Use your oldest products first, and inspect them closely before throwing them into the frying pan.

And, like I said, worst comes to worst, you eat a tiny, microscopic bug. It's gross, sure, but it's not the end of the world, guys.

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

I Rejected The Idea Of "The One" & Found A Whole New Method Of Self-Care

After my third date with a guy I met by swiping right, I had one question burned into my brain before I agreed to a fourth. Was he the one? Now, before you call me a total stalker, hear me out. In New York City, third dates were rare. I'm talking blo…
By Brittany Leitner

Finding Adventure In Your 20s May Be More Important Than Searching For A Soulmate

Your wanderlust is calling, so what are you waiting for? Being 20-something is all about finding your passion and purpose in life. Maybe you went to college and figured it all out between the books and long nights spent in the library. Or maybe you'r…
By Marisa Casciano

I Tried A Laughter Yoga Class & I Nearly Peed My Pants From Giggling So Hard

There's nothing funny about yoga, except for the fact that, if you look at yourself in the mirror while your body twists like a giant pretzel you'd nibble on at a baseball game, you do look kind of funny. Well, actually, you look a little like you're…
By Jen Glantz

Experts Say Doing This One Thing In The Morning Will Make You Way More Productive

I don’t know about you, but I don’t initially wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy; that whole “up and at ‘em” mindset takes work on weekdays. I will say, however, that I am a morning person by nature, and fully believe in the benefits of stic…
By Julia Guerra

A Psychic Read My Crystals & Said I'd Die Alone, But Then Everything Changed

I love my girlfriend for many reasons. She's the most amazing person I've ever met. She makes me feel safe. She screams the soundtrack to Dear Evan Hansen with me when we're riding in her car. But TBH, one of the main reasons I love her so much is th…
By Theresa Massony

This Instagram Star's Famous Lip Art Actually Has An Incredible Emotional Backstory

In a post-Kardashian world, every millennial thinks they have what it takes to go viral, but few consider what that online fame actually looks like in a person's daily life. In Elite Daily's new series, Life Behind The Likes, we speak with the people…
By Lilli Petersen

A New 'This Is Us' Theory Claims It's All Happening Inside Jack's Head & OMG

Ever since This is Us revealed how Jack died in their post-Super Bowl episode (damn you, Crock Pot) fans have been desperate to know where the show is headed — and if there are any other major twists they should be prepared for. The Season 2 finale i…
By Claire Spellberg

If You're Broke In Your 20s, You're Doing Something Right

It can be pretty disheartening when you're broke AF in your 20s. The silver lining in that constant struggle with currency is that you are doing what you want during this time of your life. Money isn't everything, and creatively and memorably using w…
By Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

How You'll Be Proposed To, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Forever and always starts with getting down on one knee. Wedding season is right around the corner, and with it comes a lot of love stories. When you're watching the two do their first dance, or looking through old pictures, you remember where it all…
By Marisa Casciano

Gen Z Yellow Is The New Millennial Pink, So I Tried Wearing It All Over My Face

A few months ago, everything from makeup to clothes and even home appliances simply needed to be Millennial Pink. Being a millennial myself, I totally bought into the color craze, but there's a new hue (one that technically doesn't represent me at al…
By Stephanie Montes

These Theories About What Khloé Kardashian Will Name Her Baby Are So, So Good

The Kardashian family's future is most certainly female. The world was overjoyed when Kim K introduced us to her daughter, Chicago. We cried tears of joy when we found out that Kylie was in fact pregnant all along and had a baby girl named Stormi. An…
By Karen Ruffini

This Pup Is Going Viral Because People Think He Looks Like A Human

We all know our pups at home are beyond special. If you post pictures of your pet on social media in hopes that everyone notices just how cute your furry friend is, you're really not alone. You probably receive a bunch of comments with people gushing…
By Rachel Chapman

This Is What Staring At Screens All Day Could Do To Your Eyes In The Long Run

By now, you’ve probably heard all about how bad the glaring blue light from your smartphone and computer screen is for your sleep cycle. These claims are true, BTW, which means if technology has the power to creep inside your brain and mess with your…
By Julia Guerra

Kylie Jenner Finally Answers All Your Questions About Her Pregnancy & Stormi Webster

If someone has a baby, but you never got to see them go through pregnancy, were they really ever pregnant? It's a question I find myself asking over and over again since Kylie Jenner welcomed daughter Stormi Webster to the world. I'm so excited that …
By Hollee Actman Becker

These 3 Zodiac Signs Burn Through Relationships The Fastest

It's hard enough to find love in this dog-eat-dog world. You write the perfect bio for your Tinder profile, dress to impress, go on dates with strangers that your friends set you up with, even fork over thousands of dollars to a professional matchmak…
By Roya Backlund

Find Out Which 'The Office' Character You Are, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Long before mockumentary was NBC's favorite comedy style to produce, The Office introduced its fans to the groundbreaking style in its 2005 debut. Because it is such a realistic-looking show, the characters felt even more lifelike than most comedy ch…
By Kristen Perrone

Khloe Kardashian Shared Tips For Looking "Skinny AF" & People Are Pissed

Anybody interested in looking their best on social media might be curious about Khloe Kardashian's tips to "look skinny" in photos. When somebody takes a picture of me, I tell them to snap away as I strike one pose after another. When it comes to pos…
By Stephanie Montes

6 Things No One Tells You About Moving In With Your Partner That You Need To Know

If you’ve reached the point in your relationship where you find yourselves spending most of your time together — either at their place or yours — there’s a pretty big chance you’ve thought about living together. Taking this next step in your relation…
By Tayi Sanusi

How To Plan A Life-Changing Trip That'll Stick With You Long After You Return

When it comes to traveling, it seems like everyone is doing it for the 'Gram these days. As you scroll through your Instagram feed, it may seem like travel is all about getting that perfect shot or jumping from one bucket list destination to another.…
By Ciara Johnson

These 4 Celebrities Are Actually Twins & You Definitely Had No Idea

Mary-Kate and Ashley. Tia and Tamera. Dylan and Cole. There are some twins in Hollywood that have become super successful thanks to the fact that they are a pair. Two is better than one, right? But some A-listers have a twin who isn't in the public e…
By Karen Ruffini