Today the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) issued an alert that pantry pests can ruin holiday recipes. These uninvited guests can be hiding in pantries or baking ingredients that haven’t been used in a while.

Ants, earwigs and mice can be occasional pantry invaders, but the most common are Indian meal moths and merchant grain beetles. Once inside, these pests can quickly find homes in close proximity to human food.

The NPMA recommends the following steps to keep stored food free from pests:

Purchase proper storage: Heavy plastic or glass containers with airtight, secure lids keep pantries looking nice and will help protect food.

Use a bay leaf: Add one leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods – the herb’s pungent scent repels many pests.

Inspect groceries at the store: Most pantry pests are brought into homes from items that are already infested. Check packages for any holes or broken seals before placing them in the cart.

Check the date: Remember to check expiration dates on baking ingredients before use. Visually inspect items that have been left untouched in the pantry for signs of pests.

Practice good sanitation: Wipe up crumbs and spills as soon as possible. Also, periodically clean cupboards with soap and water to remove any food residue that may accumulate over time.

Seal cracks: Look for any cracks or holes where pests might be coming into your home and seal them shut.

(The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.)

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