Flour bugs are the most significant challenge when it comes to kitchen infestation. Weevils and mites seek food, and from time to time, they end up in our kitchens. While weevils are not the nightmare, you may imagine them to be. They are still not desirable in your baking ingredients.
This article will let you know how to protect your food from weevils and how to get rid of them in the necessary cases.
Types of small bugs you can find in your flour
There are common types of kitchen bugs often found in dry food, such as rice, flour, cereal, etc. You probably have heard of flour weevils; however, there are different types of pests that you may discover in your dry goods. Moth, beetle, and weevil are the most popular bugs that usually eat pantry products.
In this article, we will discuss two main types of flour bugs: weevils and mites.
What do flour weevils look like?
Weevils can be found in flour as well as rice. These tiny pests are also known as flour beetles. They are technically beetles and have the same oval shape. Flour weevils have a dark brown appearance which makes them easy to recognize. On average, adult weevils are around 3-10mm in length.
What do flour mites look like?
Flour mites are almost impossible to notice because of their size and appearance. They are white with brown legs; hence, seeing them in the flour is tough. There are different mites, including flour mites, grain mites, and kitchen mites. However, you can treat them equally. Removing and preventing them requires the same methods.
Mites VS Weevils
If you have a hard time identifying little bugs, keep the following key differences in mind.
Weevils are darker than mites. Additionally, mites are way smaller than rice weevils. According to the PennState article, male mites are around 0.013-0.017 inches long, while females vary from 0.014 to 0.026.
What kind of damage do flour bugs cause?
The most significant disadvantage with flour bugs is that they get into your pantry. Sadly, you cannot notice them until it is far too late. The Guardian reports, “Beetle larvae are found inside whole grains, so you won’t spot those until you see the adults in the bottom of the packet.”
Flour bugs find a food source in your pantry. Pantry weevils eat rice, pasta, cereal, flour, and more. Since dry food is an attraction for them, pantry weevils are pretty common.
Flour weevils usually lay eggs where they eat food. Unfortunately for us, they lay lots of eggs and reproduce extremely quickly. Therefore, an infestation of flour bugs happens without us noticing and taking precautions. Additionally, we store this type of food for a long time, so flour weevils have plenty of time to turn eggs into larvae and become adult bugs capable of reproduction.
What causes flour bugs?
If you find mites or weevils in your flour, there is a big chance that they were already there when you bought the package. Weevils might infest grains once they are already in your house, but bugs often get into your flour from the very beginning.
The issue starts with an infestation of a wheat kernel in the field. Wheat is the most common grain for making flour. Unfortunately, weevils lay eggs in the wheat kernel while in the field. Weevil eggs are tiny and unnoticeable to the naked eye. By some miracle, some eggs survive the whole milling process. Then eggs hatch when the flour is already in the packaging. Mainly, this is how weevils end up in your flour.
Generally, more processed grains have fewer bugs. This is because, during the processing, most bugs are killed. Your flour still may contain dead bug parts, but you will not have to deal with a bug infestation on the brighter side.
Another way you get pantry pests is if you are not careful enough. Sometimes, pests get into your home through cracks and holes. If your pantry is not secure enough, little pests will eventually result in grains and flour. As mentioned above, weevils and mites reproduce quickly, so there is no going back once several bugs get into your pantry.
How to get rid of flour bugs? Step-by-step guide
Getting rid of pantry pests is not as hard as you thought. With a little bit of patience and determination, you can get rid of these nasty little creatures in just a couple of days.
1. Empty the whole pantry
Throw away all the infested food: wheat flour, rice, cereal, cake mixes, etc. If there are too many bugs, simply empty the pantry shelves. First, make sure all the eggs are killed and throw away everything.
There is one simple method that will help you kill all the pests. This is exceptionally efficient for killing eggs and larvae.
To kill bugs and remove them, follow this instruction: put infested food packages, flour jars, or containers in the freezer and leave them there for at least four days. That’ll kill all the pests, including eggs and larvae in the packages. After this, you can empty the containers with more confidence.
2. Clean the pantry
Clean pantry shelves, jars, and containers. To clean everything well, use white vinegar or chemical cleaners.
You can create your homemade cleaning solution by mixing white vinegar and distilled water. Adding lemon might also be a good idea. It will remove the unpleasant smell from the jars and disinfect everything quite well. Another option is to spray soapy water on the shelves and clean them carefully.
3. Use insecticide
You can use this to kill all the larvae and eggs that might not be visible. Additionally, it can work as a deterrent. Spray it around the cracks and holes that may lead other pantry pests to your kitchen. It will create a barrier for incoming bugs and prevent them from entering your pantry and ending in your food.
If you are doubtful about using chemicals in your kitchen, you can use natural alternatives discussed below.
4. Get airtight containers
To prevent the infestation, store flour, beans, pasta, and whole grains in reliable containers. If you store your food in secure jars, you deny bugs access to their food. This step is important for killing the bugs and preventing future issues.
5. Call pest control professionals
If the infestation is too big, it will be more efficient to contact a pest control company and get rid of bugs quickly.
6. Add natural repellents to your kitchen
Repellents can be very useful for removing pests around your kitchen. Additionally, it is a very good preventative measure against live weevils. Natural repellents include bay leaves and garlic cloves.
Some people recommend taping bay leaves to the containers, but that is unnecessary. Instead, you can scare the bugs away by simply adding natural deterrents to your pantry shelves.
Additionally, you can use essential oils to get rid of flour bugs. For example, tea tree oil has proved to be very efficient against flour mites.
Some people have been skeptical about natural deterrents, while others find them very efficient. So, the best policy is to try all methods and find out which one works for you.
How to prevent little bugs in flour, rice, and grains?
There are several effective prevention techniques for keeping the bugs away:
1. Clean your pantry regularly
Once you are finished with the food from your pantry, deep clean the container. Use white vinegar solution for the best outcome. When you restock the pantry without cleaning it, you leave old food on the bottom of the jar, which is attractive for flour mites. If you regularly get rid of excess food, you can prevent weevils from your pantry.
Do not forget to clean the shelves regularly. You can do it by using hot soapy water to clean the surfaces monthly.
2. Add repellents to your kitchen
Natural repellents prevent future infestation. Some of the best natural deterrents are kitchen essentials such as garlic and bay leaves.
3. Store your food well
Specifically, you should avoid storing dry foods in paper bags or cardboard boxes. The best way is to move foods from store packaging to glass or plastic jars. Unfortunately, not even plastic bags can prevent a future infestation. Do not rely on store packaging and move food from a bag to reliable storage. To keep dry goods securely, get air-tight containers.
Moreover, avoid humid conditions. Humidity attracts bugs and also spoils dry food. Ensure that dry goods are kept in a cold and dark place. If you want to have your pantry easily reachable, install the shelves on the kitchen side that do not get a lot of sunlight.
Some people even suggest putting flour in a sealed jar and keeping it in a freezer. This storing method keeps the flour fresh for a long time.
4. Clean and disinfect the kitchen often
This practice will promote hygiene and save you and your dry foods from future infestation. Pay extra attention to any cracks or gaps in your kitchen. Cover them and disinfect them regularly.
Types of packaging you should avoid
Weevils may seem small, but they are quite capable. Most of the common packaging options are ineffective against weevils. To prevent bug infestation, you should not store grains, flour, and baking ingredients in the following packages:
- Paper bag
- Cardboard boxes
- Plastic bag
Overall, every commercial packaging will prove inefficient against weevils in the long term. However, since the pantry offers food to weevils, they will do their best to get access. Unfortunately for us, most packaging options do not work against bugs.
Frequently asked questions
Is it safe to eat flour with bugs in it?
It is harmless to eat flour with weevils in it. Obviously, it is not desirable, and you want to avoid it. However, if you accidentally consume tiny bugs in flour, do not panic; you will be fine.
Flour weevils are not poisonous. This is why it is okay to eat flour with bugs in it. Unfortunately, while food processing has advanced, infested grains are still more common than we would like to admit.
Can you use flour if it has bugs in it?
We actually use infested flour and rice more often than we are aware of it. It is mostly too late when we discover bugs in grains and flour. Technically you can use it, and there is a good chance you have baked with infested flour more than once. Of course, it is better to avoid flour infested with bugs, but if you accidentally do it, it is totally okay.
What type of storage container is best for flour?
To store flour and whole grains, you should use airtight containers. Containers can be made of glass or plastic. To prevent infestation, remember to keep flour and grains in the dark places.
Overall, it would be best to have airtight containers in your pantry. It is the best option for keeping a variety of grains and flour. A sealed container is quite easy to find, and there are different types on the market. We identified the 3 best airtight containers you can use.
Top 3 sealed container products for your pantry:
- Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Food Storage Containers – These containers will be efficient for storing flour and other ingredients.
- Food Storage Glass Container with Bamboo Lids – This set could be most convenient if you prefer glass over plastic. An elegant design with bamboo lids could be a beautiful addition to your pantry.
- Sealed Container with Innovative Airtight Lid – Innovative lid makes this container perfect for storing flour. Additionally, you can find the chalkboard labels very convenient for organizing.
Overall, flour bugs are more common than we realize. While they are certainly not desirable, they can be dealt with quite easily. So, if you accidentally eat flour with weevils, do not worry. However, keep in mind that you can successfully remove and prevent mites and weevils from your kitchen.