Ever since our ancestors found out how to keep foods in reserve for bad times, insects and rodents have taken their toll of such stores.
The remains of pests of stored products (e.g. flour beetles) have been found in graves from
2,500 B.C., and drugstore beetles, spider beetles and tobacco beetles were found in the grave of Tutankhamun.
Animal pests of stored products are still with us. Indeed it has been estimated that about 15 per cent of all stored foodstuffs never reach human mouths, but end up in the bodies of insects or rodents.
It is possible to distinguish between two types of pest that attack stored products. First, there are those that only visit foods when they are hungry, but which otherwise live and breed in cracks and crevices and similar hiding-places. These include cockroaches, silverfish and ants. Secondly, there are animals which lay their eggs in or on a foodstuff and in fact spend their whole life in it.
Animals which only visit foods when they are hungry are very sparing in their choice of food and they may also make do with odd fragments, but many of those that live directly in their food are more fastidious.