A variety of different insects attack cereals, flour, herbs, spices, chocolate, dried fruits and similar items in our homes.Insects found in flour and cereal are often referred to as weevils. |
A common flour, pasta and cereal pest is the saw-toothed grain beetle. Various other species of beetles are also common pantry pests and infest a wide variety of food items. Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles are occasional pests, but they prefer dried plant materials such as herbs and spices.
A few of these insects may be present but go unnoticed. The pests are usually not noticed in the home until they become abundant.
How do these pests get into our food? Occasionally, some may find their way inside from outdoors; however, the majority of these pests are in food products brought into the home. The initial infestation can originate at the processing plant, the warehouse, the delivery vehicle, or the retail store (chances of becoming infested increase the longer a food item is stored at the same location).
Opening a bag of flour and noticing the contents crawling with little bugs is horrifying, but it happens. Throwing out the bag will not necessarily solve the problem and you may find frequent occurrences.
The secret is starving the pests and their access to food is a thorough cleaning job. Here's how to reclaim your pantry and get bug-free…
Remove everything from the shelves and wash the entire area well with a bleach and water solution (about 1/4 cup bleach per gallon of hot water), wear rubber gloves and use a scrub brush so that you can get into any cracks and corners. Wash both top and bottom of each shelf, all walls and the floor. Keep the door open to let the space dry completely (overnight) before adding stock back to the shelves. Wait until the room is no longer humid from the washing before re-stocking the shelves. Check all food boxes and bags for contamination, throw out those that are infested or those you're unsure about (bag and cart out to the garbage immediately–don't keep in the house) and put the rest in the freezer for 5 days before returning to the shelves. Preventive Steps:
Keep all flour, cereals, rice, pasta, starch foods in canisters, glass jars with sealed lids or airtight plastic containers. Stack a few natural repellents on the shelves in between groceries. Freeze new dry food staples for 4 or 5 days before storing (to kill the larvae and eggs). Keep a bay leaf or two in the flour cannister and crushed bay leaves sprinkled throughout the pantry (weevils don't like them). Watch For:
Drips and spills from syrups, honey, etc.–wash off immediately or you will attract ants and other insects. Once you notice an infestation and have done a thorough cleaning job, keep a diligent eye on your stock. Each time you notice a weevil or other pest, empty the cupboards and shelves again, wash everything well and repeat the steps above until you are bug-free. There's no way around it, you have to remove every single egg & larvae or they will grow in numbers until you do.
For more useful tips or assistance in the control of this pest, check our main page here:
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