How to Spot Common Kitchen Pests

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With the holidays barreling down upon us, we’ll likely be enjoying time in the kitchen preparing meals, drinking wine, producing mouth-watering aromas, and plating delicious foods. The last thing we all need is for a wayward bug or rodent to ruin the holiday experience.

Below are several common pests of which to be aware and how to keep your house safe from unwanted guests (at least, of the non-human kind!)

Pests can make your home their home any time of year. Stay in the loop with us as we detail several easy ways to keep the bugs out and your holiday cheer in.

Ants (not to be confused with aunts)

These tiny creatures come in several varieties and find their way into your home through open doors and windows, or improperly sealed cracks or corners. Seeing one ant in your pantry generally means many of their friends are nearby.

Depending on the species, ants are attracted to just about every kind of food, including:

  • Sugar
  • Meats
  • Oils
  • Fats
  • Eggs
  • Other dead insects
  • Nuts
  • Bread
  • Grease

Getting rid of ants for good can mean a visit from a professional residential pest control company, but happily, ant infestations are not usually dangerous to humans. Ants can contaminate food stores with their feces, though, so it’s best to act fast when you see even one of them around your house.

You can begin by ensuring all food containers are closed and secured. Do not leave food out in the open on the counter or in cupboards or the pantry. Setting ant traps near food sources is a useful step in getting ahead of infestations. Spraying your foundation also lights the “no-vacancy” sign for ants.

There are also many natural ways to deter ants such as simply placing tape, sticky-side up around problem areas. Ants step on the tape, trying to get to the food, get stuck, and problem solved.

You can also use chalk around entry points into your home.  Ants despise the calcium carbonate in chalk and will steer clear.


No one likes a swarm of flies around their best pies and cookies, whether outdoors or indoors. House flies, and fruit flies are common irritants during the winter months, as well as in warmer weather.

Leaving food out uncovered, or dirty dishes in the sink is like broadcasting your bounty through a miniature megaphone.  Flies find old food fast and set up shop in a flash.

Fruit flies are mainly a nuisance, but they do not carry disease. Houseflies, however, can spread E. Coli as they land on different food sources. When you see either type of these common pests, plan to take action immediately to ensure a fly-free zone in your kitchen and pantry.

Clean your counters and cupboards of open food containers. Store fruit in the fridge or in closed containers. Change the garbage often, and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Clean and sanitize garbage cans and compost bins frequently.


Ugh. Need we say more? Just a glimpse of this brown, six-legged creepy-crawly can send you running for the hills outside your home.

Rather than surrendering your domestic territory, get ahead of these critters fast. When you see one roach, there’s likely a family of them hiding out of sight.

These bugs can contaminate your food, so it’s important to intervene with haste when you spy even one of them scurrying across your kitchen floor.

Roaches can range in size from tiny to truly scary, depending on species and region. They are fast and fearless. Prevention and extermination include the following steps:

  • Sanitize your kitchen thoroughly, taking care to seal and store food containers properly.
  • Set baits in areas where you’ve noticed roach traffic, like cupboards, corners, floor boards, bathrooms, and more.
  • Vacuum frequently.

Pantry Pillagers

Flour moths. Beetles. Larvae. All of these pests can infiltrate your dry staples invisibly and hang out for long periods. Check your pantry for the tell-tale signs of pest infestation regularly.

When you see gossamer strands of silk residue on your dry-good staples, there’s a good chance you’ve unwittingly played host to a few critters. These bugs can access nearly any kind of cardboard or thin plastic bag and infiltrate the food stored within.

Throw contaminated containers  and food away immediately. Then, clean and wipe your shelves with a light bleach solution to get rid of any stragglers.

Dry goods like flour, pasta, beans, peas, dog food, or dried fruit can be stored safely in sealed heavy plastic or glass containers to prevent further infestations.


Scary fact: mice can fit through openings the size of a dime. That means any unsealed crack or crevice in your home’s exterior can provide an entry for these tiny, disease-carrying rodents.

Rats are also cunning opportunists and love to chew through nearly every kind of material to gain access to easy food and nesting materials.

Both rats and mice carry viruses that threaten human health, like hantavirus, plague, and salmonella. Rodents are notorious for destroying insulation, wires, floors, and other building materials as they make their nests and have babies.

To avoid these and other rodent-related headaches, take appropriate measures to eradicate and prevent these pests from coming back.

Placing traps under sinks and anywhere you may have noticed tell-tale droppings is a good start. You’ll also need to carefully check the exterior of your home for points of entry.

Wear a mask before cleaning any droppings to prevent breathing in rodent-borne germs, or call a professional for help.

A professional can help you discover and seal off openings with steel wool and other materials through which rodents cannot chew.

Keep your home clean and free of pests in any season

The best pest protocol is prevention. Keeping your food properly stored and ensuring clean kitchen surfaces goes a long way toward keeping the exterminator away.

When you do notice the occasional wayward bug, signs of uninvited guests, or even a swarm of pests, don’t wait to act.

Dial a professional for help inspecting your home for common points of entry, and follow their advice for traps, baits, and sprays that are human-friendly and bug-deadly.

About the author:  Brent has been working with EPMS since 2000. He has a Master license and his favorite pest control jobs are Bats and Bees. Brent enjoys solving tough pest problems, he also likes fishing, biking and spending time with his family.