Pantry Pests: Getting Rid Of Flour Bugs

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Opening a bag of flour and noticing the contents crawling with little critters is horrifying, but it happens. Throwing it out will not necessarily solve the problem and you may experience regular occurrences.

ScoopThe solution is to starve the pests by removing their access to food and performing a thorough cleaning job.

Here’s how to reclaim your pantry…

Cleaning Tips:

  • Clear shelving and wash 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 surfaces, all walls and floor.
  • Leave door open to let space dry completely (overnight) before adding stock items back to their places. Wait until room is no longer humid from the washing before re-stocking.
  • Check all food items for contamination, throw out those that are infested or whatever you’re unsure about (bag and cart outside to garbage immediately–don’t keep inside house) and freeze the rest for 5 days before returning to storage location.

Preventive Steps:

  • Store all flour, cereals, rice, pasta, starch foods in canisters, glass jars with tight lids or airtight plastic containers.
  • Stack a few Herb-Stuffed Pouches (filled with natural repellents) on shelves in between groceries.
  • Freeze new dry food staples for 4 or 5 days before storing (to kill larvae and eggs).
  • Stash a bay leaf or two inside cannister and sprinkle crushed bay leaves throughout pantry (weevils don’t like them).

Watch For:

  • Drips and spills from syrups, honey, etc.–wash off immediately or they will attract ants and other insects.
  • Once an infestation is noticed and a thorough cleaning job has been completed, keep a diligent eye on stock. Each time a weevil or other pest is noticed, empty cupboards and shelves again, wash everything well and repeat steps above until completely bug-free.

***There’s no way around it, every single egg & larvae has to be removed or they will continue to appear and grow in numbers.

Did you know: The critters may be coming from the store? It’s possible that weevils or mealy bugs can already be in packaging before groceries are even paid for! Before storing items away, freezing the bags and boxes first (for about 4 or 5 days) then sealing them in plastic or airtight containers can help nip things in the bud. This way nothing else in the home will get contaminated.

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Published: March 2, 2009

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66 Comments to “Pantry Pests: Getting Rid Of Flour Bugs”
  1. Kim Perkins says:

    I have a very bad weevil problem. I have cleaned my pantry and now freeze foods before putting them in the pantry. The best thing I have found to keep them away is bay leaves. I just set them around the pantry and the weevils stay away!!

    • Michele says:

      The ones in my closet are EATING the bay leaves I thought they were suppose to hate those things?

      • Bria says:

        1. Are you sure their weevils, and not some other pest and
        2. Are the leaves damp or rotting in anyway?

        • Bria says:

          I just looked it up, and appearently ,heat will kill them too. popping something suspicious in the microwave for 5 minutes is supposed to rid of them. (I say suspect, because obviouly if you can see them, you might as well toss it, those things cause E. Coli.)

  2. Debbi says:

    I have never had a problem with weevils for I freeze my flour and cornmeals, etc. I leave them in the freezer and I keep a black permanent marker in the kitchen drawer to date mark my foods on they day they are put away. that way I can see what has become too old to keep. I also date mark opened and leftovero foods in the refrig.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Wow, thanks for all the great information. I got weevils in my pantry for the first time ever last month. I wasn’t sure how to handle it so I ended up throwing away everything that was opened and disinfecting it with a vinegar/water solution. Wish I had thought of bleach.

    I think I will give the freezing thing and the bay leaves a try from now on to make sure that they don’t come back.

  4. James Long says:

    in today i need all the tip i can get

  5. mark says:

    I get ice cream in the gallon and two gallon tub containers. When the ice cream is gone I clean the empty tubs and reuse them for my different types of flour and meal. They make great shake n bake containers for whatever coating I wish to put on chicken, steak, fish, or livers and gizzards. mix the seasonings and flour and meat. put the lid on and shake like crazy. very handy and easy to clean in the dishwasher.

  6. Bria says:

    My family’s always had a set of containers that we kept flour, sugar, and so forth inside. They snap shut, and were real cheap, adn it was clear so You can always see inside of it- plastic does a good job; we kept flour over the course of a year or so- maybe longer. They work well, and go with anything. I didn’t even know Weevils EXISTED until I saw someone’s bag of flour. my rule is use something you can hear snapping (not crinkling or clanking) shut. Ziplock, tupper-ware, stuff like that. NOT any kind of box, jar, paper or plastic(that isn’t ziplock) bag. Those all fall short.

  7. Jennifer says:

    i did not know weevils existed. We just found out we have a major problem, in everything from raisans to cereal to crackers. Just threw out 2 garbage bags full of food and hope they don’t come back. Won’t be storing food anymore…

  8. Darla says:

    Thanks for the info! I can hardly wait to try the bay leaves idea.

  9. Pam says:

    Are they poisonous if you ate one?

    • Maggi says:

      Hope not … I just ate a cookie and found 2 which had crawled out (so likely ate some)

    • barb drake says:

      Someone told me it’s just a little extra protein in your diet. Ha,ha. I once bit into and apple a couple of times before I saw a worm I bit in the apple. I’m still going strong at age 71. Remember some more primitive cultures eat insects and worms when their food supplies are short. Of course I don’t recommend it but apparently a little won’t kill most people.

    • Elizabeth says:

      they are not harmful. I have read many posts saying that people have found them in pasta while cooking it and they scooped the bugs out and ate the pasta. gross but not harmful if eaten.

  10. Dawn says:

    Yuck. Thanks for the suggestions. Most of my stuff was in square sealed containers, but I had some open pasta boxes and Asian noodles that got them as well as the minor flours that I use once in a while (rice, wheat, chickpea… Tossed the world and will invest a few bucks in a larger assortment of snap-shut plastic. I also keep Sharpies and Expo markers in the kitchen to label my items–I never remember when something went in. @Jennifer–you can stock and store still! I won’t be lazy on my freezing and sealing anymore:) My foodsaver helps out, too…

  11. cc says:

    This is crazy..I just saw a bug in my flour that is sealed in a plastic container. Now I’m freaked out about everything in my pantry. Do those things get into everything? Nuts? Chocolate chips? Coconut? Cereal? What am I gonna need to throw out?

  12. Umesh Joshi says:

    Step 1. Calm down. Bugs have been here long before us and are the primary competition when it comes to food. Hence our judicious use of pesticides. You just have to get used to the idea that they’re going to get into our stuff.
    Step 2. Get rid of the ones you see using a sieve and use preservative techniques (freezing, sealing, canning, etc) to prevent more bugs.
    Step 3. Cook thoroughly. It’s one of the good things that cave man learnt and passed on to the rest of us.

    It’s ok. We just lead such anti-septic lifestyles that we forget that we’re living not with nature, but despite it. Sometimes, we just get reminded of where we’re really living, but don’t let if shock you.

    • John Cossham says:

      Agree totally. Eating a few psocids or other tiny insects won’t do any harm. We eat other animal protein, and our stomach acid deals well with all sorts of stuff we voluntarily eat. It’s a psychological barrier, really.

  13. LEANN says:

    I read somewere that you can freeze rice for three or four days and then put it in a plastic storage container because the freezing kills anything that is already in the bag when I bought it. Does anyone know if it works or if you can even freeze rice?

  14. Heather says:

    DO NOT put down the ant baits that come in a the tins. Weevels LOVE them. I had one in our cupboard because we had carpenter ants and the weevels were feasting on it. There must have been at least 50 crawling all over it.

  15. Donna says:

    I’m having a recurring problem with moths in the pantry. I use air tight containers for flour and meal type products. I have fresh bay leaves scattered throughout the pantry and also in the air tight containers and the moths and larva are still having a hay day in my pantry. Any suggestions?

  16. linda says:

    I am always getting bugs in cake mixes, crackers and anything else that comes in prepackaged boxes. Other than the freezer what do you do? Do you open each box and put them into something – ziploc, etc?

    • Elizabeth says:

      complain to the company. I am currently in contact with Aunt Jemima because I bought a box of pancake mix and it was infested and I have been trying to rid these bugs for weeks now and I contacted the company and they are aware of the issues and can now take preventative measures to assure this problem stops

  17. Gigi says:

    One suggestion is to only buy enough food that you will use in the near future. I stopped buying extra pantry foods just in case I might need it someday. I now use up my supply quicker and the bugs don’t have a chance.

  18. Robbie says:

    i have just opened my box of bayleaves to stop the weavels in the cupboard, its full of weavels(and i know what they look like!)what now???

  19. Derek says:

    no one has answered, can they be harmful? some one mentioned e-coli

    • John Cossham says:

      Eating small amounts of insect will NOT harm you. I eat wild fungi, many of which have insect larvae in them. I’m still here after 30 years eating this stuff.

    • Judy says:

      I fought the little buggers for years by cleaning and keeping everything in jars. I finally got a handle on the quanity of the infestation when I remodeled my kitchen and found the nests behind the pantry moulding.. I didn’t know about the freezing so that’s one more step of precaution from bringing them into the cupboards.

  20. emily says:

    ive read the good thing about them is they dont carry any diseases

  21. natalie says:

    So we have been dealing with this infestation for about a year and was not able to determine where they were coming from. we threw away all our flour and rice products, etc… come to find out the first leading attraction for them is animal food and treats. We store our dog food at the bottom of the pantry and had no idea to even look at that.. just FYI you have to look outside the box.

  22. natalie says:

    weevels …i describe them as a smaller than an ant size but has a brown beetle looking body. they are not harmful just annoying when you want to make a box of mac and cheese, or really anything starchy.

  23. sharron anderson says:

    thanks for all the feed back.I have been putting flour,cornmeal,lentials,etc. in the freezer for years.Also have used bay leaves.But still had the brown beetles flying all over the place.We have in house dogs and dog food out all the time. My next question is how do you keep the products from tasting rancid and old when storing for a year? or more. After freezing I put everything in gallon jars with lids. But the products still taste old.

    • Patricia Oliver says:

      I am not trying to be mean, but I think that keeping flour, meal,ect. for a year is way too long. I suggest that you buy smaller quantities of flour and cornmeal so that you can use it before it gets to the rancid stage. Rancid food is just gross.

    • Michell says:

      I actually cook dry things in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour. Then I put in large mason jars and seal with my jar sealer…sucks out the air. Stuff lasts really well, and no bugs. I read about this in Countryside although they actually did oven canning. I’m not sure how safe that is even for dry goods, though many people do it. Anyhow, I have had no problems since I started doing this. If I have something I will use soon I might just store in a clean and dry milk jug. I have read that stuff stored this way can easily last 10 years…some say up to 30 years. I bake bread so I don’t think we will ever find out how long it last.

    • marilyn says:

      If you have the space, keep anything in the freezer that can get rancid. It not only prevents bugs, but prevents products from getting rancid for much longer than otherwise. I’ve used this method for years – it works great, but you must have heavy duty, airtight containers to help prevent the “old” flavor or “freezer flavor”.

    • Carla says:

      You can toast things that are rancid to get rid of the off flavor. Heat them in a cast iron skillet and stir, on medium heat, until toasted

  24. Yvette Smith says:

    I have used a bay leaf in all the grains and flours, keeps the weevils out.

  25. Shelly says:

    For those of you who have weevels in your pantry. Check your PAPRIKA!! I had a problem with them twice and both times my paprika was infested with them.. nasty little bugs..hahah I stopped buying paprike because I never used it fast enough, maybe I will keep it in my freezer from here on out.

  26. Patty Kasiewicz says:

    My sister had a problem. a bad one at that. she called in an exterminator. those bugs we even laying eggs in any crack, crevace and behind the cabinets.so when you clean and try to get rid of them you have to be 100 %. They did find the original source. it was a local grocer store .

    • Kate C says:

      We have a terrible infestation of them. We put everything in sealed containers and they still get in. I have thrown out tons of food because of them. We just bought a cake mix and 2 days later we opened it and it had bugs in it. I think it’s the grocer. It’s a small mom and pop store. We shop there because the other store is over 30 mins away. I am going to have to call an exterminator.

  27. Pat Stewart says:

    Weevils definitely do not cause or carry e-coli. If they did the human race would have been extinguished thousands of years ago. Remember, even though we try to get rid of the weevils we still eat them without knowing it because they are in so many different foodstuffs. Yes, they do love paprika. So buy it in a bottle rather than a box.

  28. oneika says:

    I just notice those weevils around my stove and I have my cabinet above stove where I stored my flour I took everything out threw away every dried thibg away and clean with warm water and pine dollars didn’t think to use bleach and put the bay leaves hopefully that will work

  29. oneika says:

    I read all the comments very helpful and to answer Derrick question if they harmful that’s a no it will be just bug protein nasty but they wont hurt you!

  30. Carlton says:

    Thank you all for the wonderful tips and suggestions. Do not be alarmed at the fact that you may have ingested insects inadvertently. There are parts of insects in many of the grain products that we consume. The FDA, for example, allows a certain amount of insect remnants per millionths in cereal. Pork, quite often, is infected with tapeworm larvae and other “invaders” hence the recommendation for minimum cooking temps. As one mentioned earlier the human digestive system is hardy and can destroy many of the undesirable things we find in our food supply. I have found through 47 years of experience that a heartfelt “prayer of grace” before meals is very effective in fighting anything not quite meant to be part of the meal :).

  31. Joe says:

    The best way is empty the cabinets clean them but don’t use bleach it won’t kill them completely and your kitchen will smell like bleach for weeks. Just simply clear the area and go and get Raids Concentrate Deep Reach Fogger. You have to seal up your house and leave for 2-4 hours but all the bugs will be dead. There may be a few stragglers, just nail them with Raids Bed Bug and Flee Spray, this kills them instantly and also their eggs. Also spray this in all the crevices in the kitchen. After I used the fogger I swept up hundreds of these flower beetles, they were everywhere! Plus this product will continue to work up to 2 months. These things are a menace if you want them gone use a pesticide.

  32. Linda says:

    Just a tip for acquiring weavel proof containers easily … coffee cans !!! I go through ENORMOUS amounts of coffee, so I use the empty cans to store my stuff in the pantry. They work perfect, I’m recycling at the same time, AND I’m saving boatloads of money by not having to buy containers. Just make sure that you use the cans that have the soft, supple plastic lids that fit tight. I love Folgers, but their lids are NOT supple and tight.

  33. Brenda says:

    Those little bugs can sure cover a lot of area, now there in the livingroom and have found some on my bed.I went through clearing out the pantry,sweeping out the shelves with a handbrush, disinfected with orange oil, use the vacuum in every corner and crack wash all the canned goods surfacing,threw out anything that was gnawed into,found bugs in.Even my Tupperware flour container was filled with the blasted bugs.Tupperware is not air tight.Those bugs can even get into a canning jar, which I used to store small amounts of cookies, pastas.I know they won’t touch whole wheat pastas and brown rice.Go figure! Oh, after my cleanup, I even fogged with 3 cans in the kitchen.Mom has a really large bay tree, so I even had access to limbs of bay leaves strewn throughout the pantry. And they’re baaaaaaaaaack within few month. I’m guessing the wooden pantry is infested with places the bugs hide very well and weren’t affected by any method of elimination, even the foggers.So, the pantry might have been then free standing culprit to keep the bugs around.I’m moving and leaving the pantry for the property manager to deal with.Total getaway of living space is the only way for me to get rid of those bugs.I can’t even find any accurate pic of them.None of the sketches match,maybe it’s a new breed…uh oh.

  34. dessndave says:

    opened a new bag of flour & found it infested.
    Opened a Tupperware container to find it was even more infested.
    was about to make some bread just to find out the bag of flour we bought recently is infested.
    this totally sucks & we just cleaned the cupboard with bleach wipes & always clean the floor with either bleach or ammonia.

    will have to buy some more bay leaf to give that a try. & will start opening then freezing our flour. Just hope they don’t like yeast also which is airtight.
    Do not feel like buying a large container for flour to use with the vaccum sealer.

  35. Christine says:

    This is good if you have the space. I have an old working fridge that I keep outside the back door on patio. In it I keep all my flours, dried fruits, nuts, spaghetti, and anything else that weevils may attack. Some of these items I have had a year or more before using and as good as new with no infestations of anything.

  36. Vorece Vanderveer says:

    I sit here this afternoon and chuckled over the comments. Don’t think eating weevils will hurt you. I grew up learning to shift them out of flour and cornmeal. We didn’t throw it out. Still don’t and I still buy a 25 lb. bag. Sometimes put it in the freezer or not. There is not way to totally get rid of the little pests. Where ever there is grain you will find them. Fields, mills, stores and of course “we” bring them home. Bay leaves are the best thing to use; especially of you don’t want to use chemicals. Thank you all.

  37. Lynn says:

    My first introduction to weevils was when I offered some cookies to an 8-year-old neighbor. The cookies were in a lidded glass jar that I thought looked so elegant in my kitchen. HA! The kid came back to me saying that the cookies were moving. MOVING? I said. Not possible. He assured me, embarassed though he was, that the cookies were indeed moving. Well, I just had to take a look at what he could possibly be talking about. We all know the answer. Red-in-the-face to be sure.

  38. Jan says:

    I have used gallon size jars for over 35 years for storing rice , pasta , flour, bread crumbs, sugar, cornmeal and anything else that I don’t want bugs to get into. I have never had a bug.

  39. Doris Mason says:

    I have kept my flour in the freezer and haven’t had any problems since

  40. Annette says:

    I had a case of hot chocolate at work, the little individual packets….they burrowed through that wrapping as well!! foil!!! Unfortunately I didn’t see it until I drank a few….bleh!!!! nothin like chewing your hot chocolate. lol :)

  41. Cecelia Showalter says:

    I have a small steam cleaner. Do you think HOT steam would kill the little buggers??

  42. Terry says:

    The eggs are in the flour you buy :S So we will find it difficult to eradicate them. If freezing kills the larvae then I guess that is the best route :S

  43. candace says:

    the bay leaves… do you need fresh leaves or dried leaves?

  44. Camilla Blais says:

    I just discovered that we have beetle infestion. Found it first in cream of wheat cereal, then flour, oatmeal, cereal and so on. I have thrown out all pantry food with visible bugs in it and then I put some in the freezer. Now, mostly all information on this topic suggests that storing the food in the freezer for 4-7 days will kill them and their eggs and larvas, but then I did also read that they (red flour beetles anyways) are temperature tolerant, adults, eggs and larva and that freezing them would be a waist of time and that it would kill some of them but that too many will assuredly live prepared to continue their cycle! I am confused now and wondering if I should throw out the food in the freezer too that might have had eggs or larva in it as well?! After throwing out the food, I sprayed my cupboards with vinegar and tee trea oil, then vacuumed, then wiped with the vinegar and teetrea oil solution and then steamed with a steam cleaner that heats up to 315 degrees. Still some alive bugs crawled out of the corners. Then I went to a Raid product and am now also wondering what is best effective to reach up into the crevises since our inside cupboards are the old wooden kinds? Also, does Raid’s products kill the eggs and larvas too or just the adults? I am very hesitant to put any food back into these pantries again til I know any eggs would have hatched that possibly could…but I guess I might not be able to wait that long! Does the Raids product have to be wiped off with anything (with what in that case?) to not leave any harmful chemichal on our food or dishes?

  45. Marian says:

    I use bay leaves after getting rid of the bugs, generally it last for about 6 months and then I start looking for the bugs and replenish the leaves.

  46. roman says:

    I used only Raids for bed bugs and flee.Works perfectly.They all were dead and you do not have to leave a house.Spray everywere in your pantry and let it dry.
    They will come out from very small places and die instantly.

  47. Surbhi says:

    U won’t believe this . I had a bad infestation of flour beetles as I was away for 3 months . When I came back the wooden chair in the kitchen had tiny pores on its legs . As I sprayed insecticide and kept it in the sun .i could not believe when I shook the chair they were falling off lots of them alive flour beetles . They were eating wood to make flour . Any more ideas please to kill them . Already doing bleach , bay leaves , insecticides .

  48. Joanne Dorsey says:

    Can any one tell me where to buy the green bay leaves from. I have not seen them in any stores? Thanks

    JD

  49. Jessica says:

    I really hope these things are not harmful to your body! I find them everywhere in my house and its just disgusting! I cant get rid of them. I find them near my cats food, near my food, in my dresser, in my couch, and my cat and I may have ingested some of them, YUCK!…. I wish I would have put two and two together. When I saw bugs in my flour, I didn’t realize it was causing the bugs to be everywhere in my house. Finally I got fed up with them and I am moving. I hope they don’t stick on my clothes and in my stuff because I am willing to throw away everything that I have and start new if that means no bugs.

  50. Debe says:

    For the first time EVER,I had a pantry pest problem, threw everything out,vacuumed, wiped down entire cupboard.with bleach, Bought “airtight” storage containers, got some of those triangle pantry pest things,Never found any bugs in them Feeling good. Now a few months later I opened up some rice to fix dinner. & guess what I found? those little wormey critters.In the “airtight”container.( I have no idea if they are weevils or flour moths or what. .. ARGGGGG! frustrating.. I’ll start over with vinegar & bay leaves AND hope! also will try freezing some of the stuff. I hate the thought of eating them; my head knows a couple won’t hurt me..BUT yuck!
    Thanks for the ideas, & support.

  51. Alicia says:

    When we moved into our new home the last thing I expected was pantry moths and bed bugs. Never dealt with either of these before! But I asked lots of questions and we defeated the bed bugs.

    The pantry moths were actually much harder. I still see one now and then but have elderly family with respiratory issues and small pets so didn’t want to use pesticides. 1) Eradicated the pantry and cleaned with vinegar and water. 2) Educated the family to be diligent about closing containers 3) Bought the pantry moth traps online – worth it! Sticky traps which attract with pheromones. Killed a few in the microwave. Honestly, I had almost given up, and we ate quite a few I am sure. Lived to tell the tale and now realize that living in a warmer climate, it’ll happen. You can do beat them, too. Just be diligent!


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