Food storage tips: How to protect your food supply from bugs and pests
By Zoey Sky // Apr 10, 2023

If you are stocking up on supplies and preparing for possible survival scenarios, you need to learn how to protect food staples like rice, flour and other items from various pests.

When SHTF, you don't want to bugs or rats to gain access to your food supply. Detailed below are tips that will help keep various pantry pests away. (h/t to

Foods that can attract pests to your pantry

Keep in mind that the foods below can attract pests like bugs and mice to your pantry or storeroom:

  • Beans
  • Cake mix
  • Cereal (e.g., grits or oatmeal)
  • Chocolate
  • Cookies
  • Cornmeal
  • Crackers
  • Cured meats
  • Flour
  • Nuts
  • Pasta
  • Popcorn
  • Powdered milk
  • Raisins and other dried fruits
  • Rice
  • Spices
  • Tea

How to keep out common bugs that get into food

Common pantry pests include small beetles, moths and weevils. These bugs are more annoying although they are often harmless.

Pests like moths don’t bite, sting or do any damage to your home, but they can get into stored foods. In some cases, you might even see pests inside a completely sealed package or in a clean kitchen and pantry. (Related: Food storage tips: Keep pests away from your food supplies with diatomaceous earth.)

Most of the time, pests get into food back at the processing plant, warehouse, delivery truck or grocery store. Pests can get into products that have been opened, but they can also get into unopened boxes by chewing their way in or crawling through packaging folds and seams.

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While you can't see tiny bug eggs with the naked eye, if the food sits in your pantry for too long, the eggs will eventually hatch. The larva will then eat the food in the container.

To prevent bugs from infesting your food, you can use simple food storage hacks like adding bay leaves or using certain storage techniques like freezing.

Bay leaves

Place dried bay leaves in containers with flour, rice, or any stored bulk foods.

The fragrance of bay leaves can help deter pests and bugs such as:

  • Cockroaches
  • Earwigs
  • Flies
  • Pantry moths (Indianmeal moths)
  • Wasps
  • Sugar ants
  • Weevils


If you notice weevils in your food supply, you can kill them and their eggs by freezing them. Freezing is often done with flour.

First, place the flour in a freezer bag. Squeeze the bag to let the air out, then freeze the flour for at least 48 hours. This will kill any eggs weevils in the flour.

Make sure you don't freeze flour in the original paper packaging since condensation may occur and ruin the flour.

Before repackaging flour in Mylar bags, leave the flour on the counter until it reaches room temperature.


Some recommend using heat to kill insect eggs.

When exposed to temperatures of just less than 100 F, insect growth will slow. At temperatures of 100 F to 120 F, an insect will die in a day.

At temperatures above 120 F, an insect will die in minutes. However, for this method, you will need the help of companies that offer thermal remediation services.

Oxygen absorbers

Add oxygen absorbers to jars, other airtight containers and Mylar bags when storing pantry staples.

You can also use oxygen absorbers when storing food using a vacuum food sealer.

Insects require oxygen to survive and removing the oxygen from the container will eventually kill any insects or eggs in it.

How to handle a bug infestation

If you see a package of food that already has bugs in it, take it out of your pantry immediately. For some foods, you may be able to get rid of them and salvage your food supply.

If you find bugs or pests in beans or rice, wash and soak for a few minutes. The insects will then float to the top. Rinse the beans or rice grains several times and repeat until you no longer see bugs.

Note that you can't wash cereal or flour if you find bugs in the container.

Check other packages to see if the infestation has spread. After confirming that the other items are pest-free, remove the rest of the items.

Carefully wipe everything down and make sure you thoroughly clean all the nooks and crannies.

Change the packaging and make sure every opened item is in an airtight jar or a plastic Ziplock bag when you are done cleaning. To prevent further infestation, you may need to clean the rest of your kitchen.

More tips to keep bugs out of your kitchen and survival stockpile

Don't let your money and hard work go to waste. Before SHTF, follow the tips below to keep bugs and other pests out of your kitchen and survival stockpile:

Clean up messes 

Many pests enter homes to search for food, but if you don’t feed them, they will go away.

Always clean up crumbs and spills on counters, tables, floors and the pantry. Keep the sink free of dirty dishes.

If you have pets, pick up their food bowls when they aren’t eating.

Take the trash out regularly to keep pests out of your kitchen.

Eliminate moisture

Keeping your home as dry as possible can also help get rid of pests.

Examine and replace leaking pipes or faucets. Make sure drains aren’t clogged and are working properly.

Change the water in your pet’s bowl regularly. This can also help avoid attracting bugs.

Seal all cracks and gaps

Bugs are persistent. If they can find a way inside your home or storeroom, they will try to get into your food supply.

Check the interior and exterior of your home for any cracks or holes. Examine areas near doors and windows.

Check spots where utility lines or pipes enter your home. Seal all holes with caulk or steel wool and repair or replace damaged window and door screens.

Regularly clean cabinets

Your cabinets should also be cleaned regularly to deter pests.

Set aside time to empty them and wipe down the shelves. Examine all items for signs of pests, including holes, dents or scratches on the packaging.

While cleaning cabinets, remove any expired items.

Use the right containers

One of the best ways to avoid pantry pests is to store items properly.

This means transferring all dried food items, including cereal, dried fruit, flour, nuts and rice into sealed containers. Use a sturdy container with a tight-fitting lid.

Keep produce in the fridge to prevent fruit flies. If you keep fruit and vegetables out, such as on the kitchen counter, make sure they don’t spoil.

Clean your kitchen and storeroom regularly and check for signs of infestations to prevent pests from getting into your survival food stockpile.

Visit for more tips on how to keep your survival stockpile pest-free.

Watch the video below to find out how to store and organize herbs in your stockpile.

This video is from the snobbish prepper channel on

More related stories:

12 Homemade pest control ideas for your kitchen and home garden.

How to stockpile foods with a long shelf life.

Prepper tips and tricks: Use peppermint tea to get rid of mice and spiders.

Sources include:

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