The Worst Food Pests

By January 17, 2024Ants, Misc/Other

Pests that eat and contaminate our food are larger nuisances than usual. It’s frustrating enough to have a pest infestation in the home, but it’s even more annoying when those pests ruin a bunch of groceries by contaminating everything they touch. Every pest species has a unique diet that can include a wide range of items, including our own food and drinks! Most food-loving pests invade our kitchens because they are scavenging for a reliable food source that will sustain their family or colony, and they just so happen to stumble upon an entry point into the room that gives them access to food. Let’s focus on four of the worst, most common food pests to see why they love our food and how they instantly ruin any food they touch.


Signs: droppings, scurrying sounds, musty odor, claw marks, large holes in packaging

As nocturnal foragers, rodents are a nightmare for anyone with a kitchen. Rats and mice are most active at night because they run less of a risk of being seen by anyone, giving them more freedom to scavenge for enough food to sustain their growing families. These pests are rapid reproducers and average about 5 to 10 litters per year. The adult rodents search for safe food sources near their nest, and leave droppings along their path in order to find their way back home. These pests store their new food in hidden areas close to their nest, such as in wall voids or behind large appliances. This serves to protect both the food and the rodents themselves.

Besides stealing our food, rodents produce another major worry when they invade our kitchens: contamination. Rats and mice are two of the most disease-ridden pests around. They accumulate dangerous bacteria on their bodies by crawling around in unseemly places, like sewers. Rodents transmit diseases both directly (bites and scratches) and indirectly (consuming food touched by rodents). Some of the most common diseases transmitted by rodents include rat-bite fever, hantavirus, and plague. Rats and mice can also have pests of their own! If the rodents in your home have fleas or parasites, these smaller pests will likely find their way to the residents of the home if the infestation is not immediately handled. 


Signs: any live or dead ants, a nearby nest or anthill, a trail of ants

When many people think of food-loving pests, ants are always one of the first that come to mind. These insects cemented themselves as prevalent pests based on their unending quest to gather enough food to sustain their massive colonies that come from the same queen. They live in nests that are kept underground or deeply hidden, including under concrete, in wall voids, under flooring, and in wall cracks. Worker ants are responsible for the food-gathering — among many other tasks — and aren’t picky in their quest for any safe food source.

The main criteria ants have for their food are for it to be very sugary or protein-packed. Both give ants enough energy to continue scavenging for food. Their favorites include cereals, baked goods, meats, sugary drinks, and candy. They can carry at least 50 times their own weight and will try to bring back as much food as possible. Since ants will stay with a reliable food source, they will be an unbearable pest if they get into your kitchen. Finding a horde of ants in your favorite cereal is annoying enough, but ants aren’t clean pests either, thanks to the germ-infested places they explore. They spread bacteria onto every surface they touch, so any food and countertops that ants crawl on is immediately contaminated. 


Signs: discarded shells, egg cases, droppings, any live or dead roaches

One of the most infamous pests in existence, cockroaches are notorious for invading home and restaurant kitchens with open, unattended food. These insects share a diet with garbage disposals in that they will eat anything and everything. Roaches prefer items with starch or organic matter, but they can eat a wide variety of food. They can compress their bodies to fit within the tightest of spaces, so roaches can devour the forgotten crumbs and spills that slip through the cracks (literally) while they search for reliable food sources.

Roaches don’t live in large colonies, but they do have growing families that require an abundance of food. The females produce about 10 oothecae (egg cases) per year, each one averaging about 15 to 20 young. Roaches are some of the filthiest pests regardless of their age, and they contaminate everything they touch. Most of their bacteria comes from the disgusting places they visit in pursuit of food, including garbage dumps, sewers, and bathrooms. They can transmit diseases to humans by crawling on countertops or food that we then touch. Roaches can also aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms in people who have those conditions if the pests stay in the house long enough. 

Pantry Pests

Signs: discarded wings, any insects in food, tiny eggs, small holes in food packaging 

This term encompasses quite a few species of insects, with some of the most common including Indian meal moths, sawtoothed grain beetles, drugstore beetles, rice weevils, and flour beetles. Although these pests are technically harmless to humans — they don’t bite, sting, or spread diseases — pantry pests are still frustrating because they can ruin all kinds of groceries before we know it! Most of them need to live their entire lives inside a box or bag of food because they can’t survive without the protection and sustenance. Anything that they invade is contaminated and should be thrown out immediately. 

Pantry pests can invade dried goods at any time, whether it’s in the factory, on the store shelves, or in the kitchen cabinets. Their favorites include cereal, rice, oats, flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, pasta, nuts, chocolate, and tea. Since pantry pests are so small and therefore can go unnoticed for a long time, it’s a good idea to store all long-term dried goods in sealed containers. Baking ingredients, pasta, rice, and cereal are the best for this since they stay in our kitchens for a long time and aren’t kept in the most secure packaging otherwise. The specific type of container is your choice, but we recommend using anything with an airtight seal and secure lid. By transferring your pantry staples into these plastic or glass containers, you can ensure that your food items are safe from pantry pests when they are not being used to create your delicious homemade meals.

Pointe Technicians Solve Pest Problems

Sneaking vegetables into the dinner you prepare for your family is one thing, but a group of hungry pests? That’s a secret ingredient we could do without! At Pointe Pest Control, our seasoned technicians create a customized treatment plan for each client based on a thorough initial inspection. This plan is tailored to solve every pest problem as efficiently as possible, no matter how much the infestation has grown. Our treatments are tough on pests without containing toxic chemicals, so you don’t have to worry about dangerous pesticides contaminating your phone. For a free quote on the most reliable pest control services in the Pacific Northwest, contact our team today!


Ants. (n.d.). Pointe Pest Control. Retrieved January 15, 2024, from 

Cockroaches. (n.d.). Pointe Pest Control. Retrieved January 15, 2024, from 

Hahn, J., Jesse, L., & Pellitteri, P. (2019). Pantry pests: Insects found in stored food. University of Minnesota Extension. Available at (Accessed on January 15, 2024).

Rodents. (n.d.). Pointe Pest Control. Retrieved January 15, 2024, from