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Maggie Jover: Tips offered on how to keep pantry pests out of kitchen

Pantry pests such as weevils, beetles and moths are common but unwanted guests in many kitchens — especially during hot summer months.

These pests are often found in spices and grain foods (flour, cornmeal, cereal and pasta) and are easily spread to other food items.

Foods that are infested with pantry pests are often thrown away, resulting in a loss of money.

To help keep pantry pests out of your kitchen, follow these simple tips:

Inspect food packages before buying. Do not buy food if the package looks damaged or has been opened. Tiny tears and holes in packages are opportunities for pantry pests.

Keep your pantry clean. Pantry pests often show up when a food source becomes available to them. Periodically remove food items from your kitchen cabinet or pantry. Vacuum food particles and wash shelves with hot, soapy water. Make sure the shelves are dry before the food is returned. If needed, use caulk to seal cracks around shelves where food particles and other debris collect.

Store food properly. If foods are stored in a pantry or cabinet, try to use them within two to four months. To keep insects out, store the food in airtight containers. For longer storage, consider storing grain foods such as flour and cornmeal in the refrigerator or freezer.

Clean containers before refilling them. After emptying a container of flour, rice, pasta or cornmeal, wash it with hot, soapy water before it is refilled.

If you need information on pantry pests, contact the Denton County Extension Office at 940-349-2882.

MAGGIE JOVER is the family and consumer sciences county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2882.