• Chelle Hartzer

Being Thankful (AKA: Everything relates to pests!)

This week is Thanksgiving in the U. For my international friends, it’s a complicated holiday that I won’t get into. However, a mainstay of Thanksgiving (along with many other holidays) is the feast! There is always some debate on what is “traditional” food for thanksgiving but here are a few.


The turkey. It’s impossible to think of Thanksgiving without thinking of the bird. Turkeys (and poultry in general) have many pests associated with them while they are developing in poultry farms. Mites are a big issue and can reduce egg laying and adult bird body weight in severe infestations. Flies are a particular problem because they breed in the manure and food waste and are known to spread diseases. They have also been implicated in spreading antibacterial resistant pathogens. Flies continue to be an issue in poultry processing operations (again, spreading pathogens) and cockroaches will take advantage of poor sanitation in processing sites and develop quickly.

Bread. It might be rolls, or a baguette, or a sourdough loaf, or any other type of bread, but some kind of bread is a staple. Being made primarily with flour, flour beetles are one of the key pests of flour and many dry processed goods. Flour beetles are hardy and will often find their way into processing equipment (instead of just scavenging outside). This makes them particularly challenging to find and treat for: how do you get inside equipment that is constantly processing? In bakeries, I almost always find Indian meal moths. These are cosmopolitan pests that have a large number of food products that they can develop on.

Potatoes. Personally, I prefer sweet potatoes, but whether you prefer the regular (white) potatoes or sweet potatoes, you are not alone: flies like them too. Fruit flies, especially red eyed fruit flies really like potatoes and onions. Often, restaurants and homeowners get that giant bag of potatoes and one is always a little over-ripe. That one starts to go bad and the flies find it pretty quick. Since fruit flies can develop from egg to adult in as little as seven days, the fly problem gets very bad in a very short period of time. It also never fails that that bag of potatoes is always shoved in the back of a cabinet or shelf where someone forgot about it.


Here are a few more side dishes:

  • Dried onions for your green bean casserolewarehouse beetles get into dried fruits and vegetables all the time

  • Spices for your pumpkin pie – cigarette beetles are notorious for getting into spices

  • Macaroni and cheese – weevils like getting into the noodles, they mimic a kernel of grain

  • Vegetables – so many agricultural pests, including the invasive spotted lanternfly and brown marmorated stink bugs

When the meal is done, the pests aren’t. The cockroaches, rodents, and house flies will all happily partake in the leftovers. That bit of turkey dropped behind the stove, or the food bits spilled by the dishwasher, or the trash that doesn’t get put in a closed bin are all wonderful ways pests will share in your feast.


So next time you sit down to a feast of wonderful food, remember all the pests that are trying to enjoy it too. Be thankful for the pest control teams that keep them out!

Happy Holidays!


Lagniappe - how about insects for your feast?


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