You finally have everything ready for a weekend of baking, only to find flour bugs living their best lives in your pantry’s dry goods. What are these little creatures, where did they come from, and most importantly, how can you get rid of them?
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Keep reading to find out how we can answer all your questions and keep your pantry safe from infestation.
What Are Flour Bugs?
Flour bugs, which can also be called pantry weevils, rice bugs, wheat bugs, or flour worms, are actually tiny little beetles that feed on the dry food in your pantry like flour, cereal, rice, cake mixes, and pasta.
However, unlike other pests that find their way in to eat your dry goods and leave, these little creatures like to stick around and mate while they eat, and then lay eggs in your flour. Gross?! The eggs hatch and then those baby weevils continue the family business of eating, reproducing, and dying in your food. Again, gross!
We’ll get into the specifics on how to know if you have these vermin in your home in a bit, but here’s a short video that can show you what they look like up close and personal.
How Do Flour Bugs Get End Up in Your House?
There unfortunately a few ways these nasty things can infiltrate your home.
First, female weevils will actually lay eggs in the wheat kernel in the field long before it is harvested for processing, and occasionally those eggs can survive the milling process and end up in the very bag of flour you bought from your favorite grocery store. Those eggs will hatch and then the nasty larvae begin their cycle of feasting and reproducing.
The second way these gross weevils can weasel their way in is through even the smallest of cracks, gaps, and holes in the walls and windows of your home. There are now tons of reasons to make sure your home is properly sealed and protected from the outside elements.
How Do You Know If You Have Weevils?
Like a lot of bugs, weevil eggs are so tiny that it’s pretty much impossible to tell if they’re already in your flour when you buy it. Thankfully, once they hatch, identifying the signs of their presence becomes much easier. Here are some ways to tell if these pests are hanging around in your cupboards:
- Baby weevils (larvae) are tiny, light brown, worm-like creatures. More mature flour weevils become metallic gray with an oblong shape over time. They’ll roam through your flour doing their thing and occasionally their shiny coloring will make them easier to spot.
- If you’ve noticed a cobweb-like substance coating your flour then congratulations, you’ve got wheat bugs. When there are any larvae present, they will leave a filmy material behind that can look a lot like a spider’s web.
- You might not see any live weevils immediately as they oftentimes live out their life cycles burrowed deep within your flour. Weevils can live up to one to three years and once they die, their carcasses and skin can be found among your dry goods.
- Sometimes, the presence of flour bugs can leave odors or funny tastes in your dry food because of things like dead weevils and feces. If something smells off when you open your bag of flour, shake it around to see if there are any critters, or parts of them, hiding inside.
Is It Ok to Use Flour That Has Weevils?
The short answer is yes and no. Finding a few flour bugs in your flour isn’t a big deal and the flour is still totally usable, but can be an indicator that you’re on the brink of a weevil outbreak.
Once the bugs start multiplying, you risk spoiled goods and possibly even food-borne illness due to the sheer number of dead weevils and weevil poop in the food. The best course of action would be to toss the product, clean your cupboards, invest in more secure storage containers for your flour and dry goods, and start fresh.
Is it harmful if you accidentally eat flour mites? Eating weevil-infested flour definitely isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but you can rest assured that it won’t kill you. They’re gross but actually harmless!
If you notice any weevils in or around your flour after you’ve recently used it, don’t panic. Baking the flour kills the eggs and hatched weevils before they ever make it to your mouth, so you likely won’t be eating live flour bugs.
How Can You Get Rid of Flour Bugs?
Here are seven natural ways to keep flour bugs at bay:
Remove everything from your pantry, and toss any open food items that have been infested. Vacuum the shelves, then use an all-purpose pest spray, hot soapy water, or a natural cleaning spray to give everything a wipe-down before replacing your salvaged dry food.
Use Proper Containers
Storing your flour, sugar, cereals, and other dry goods in proper storage containers is one of the best ways to keep flour bugs at bay. Choose airtight containers and jars for the best results.
If your flour is still safe from fully-grown bugs, you can place it in the freezer for four days. This will kill eggs and larvae, and prevent them from turning into a full-blown army. Freezing your dry foods after bringing them from the store is a good habit to work into your regular routine.
Use Some Insecticide
There are a few non-toxic insecticides available specifically for pantry bugs. Remember that they can emit some heavy fumes, so it’s important to keep your kids and pets away from the area while the odor dissipates.
For a safer and chemical-free method, try some garlic cloves and bay leaves to keep the weevils away. Just place a few cloves of garlic and dried bay leaves on your clean shelves to deter the nasty bugs from your dry goods.
Call the Professionals
If the flour bug infestation in your home is really out of control or if you’re not entirely sure if it’s weevils that you’re dealing with, we always suggest that you call a pest control specialist to come look into it.
Solve Your Storage Problem
Having the right storage containers for your flour and dry goods is an essential step in weevil prevention, so you may want to invest in quality containers to protect your pantry. Try one of these storage containers:
For more tips and tricks, or to read more about our cleaning services in Boston, check out our blog or contact us today and let us help you keep your home happy and healthy all year long.