Opening a bag of flour and noticing the contents crawling with tiny critters is cringe-worthy and horrifying, but it happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a lousy housekeeper or that your home is dirty, this is a common occurrence that happens to nearly everyone at some point or another.
They’ve either been brought home from the grocery store or the creepers just found their way in by casually strolling through a crack in your doorway or a small tear in the window screen.
The most common culprits are moths, weevils and small flour or grain beetles. They aren’t going to bite you, give you a disease or cause you any injury…but it’s certainly unnerving to see them squirming around in your food.
What happens if you suspect they’ve been there for awhile without being noticed…maybe you even ate some? So yuck! But they’re not poisonous, no worries…it’s just better not dwelling on this too much ;).
What foods attract them? Depending on the insect, they’re mainly drawn to flours, grains, cereals, nuts, beans, dried fruits and certain spices.
Throwing out a lone infested package will not necessarily solve the problem since it takes just one adventurous female weevil to have previously wandered over to another package, setting up shop and hunkering down to lay a few eggs.
If that’s the case, you’ll experience constant, regular occurrences as the life cycle repeats over and over again…exploding in numbers each time.
What’s the solution? There are only two ways to get rid of them completely:
- Deter the pests by totally removing their access to food and performing a thorough cleaning job to destroy any lingering eggs.
- Hire a fumigator.
One is time consuming, the other expensive. Both are a hassle but this situation cannot be ignored so it’s best to do the job right the first time.
How To Get Rid Of The Bugs & Reclaim Your Pantry
Clear shelving and check each package. Throw out anything that shows signs of contamination. It’s not worth trying to salvage a sack of rice (for example) if there’s clearly something crawling in it, the whole lot is likely loaded with eggs that are too small for you to see. Bag it all up and take it right outside to the garbage, do not let these sit in the house.
When that’s done, let’s snap on some rubber gloves and get to work.
Vacuum every nook and cranny in the cupboard to suck up all stray powders, crumbs and critters on the run. Immediately empty the canister, wash it out and take the bag right out to the garbage.
Wipe down entire larder area well with a bleach and water solution (about 1/4 cup bleach per gallon of hot water), use a scrub brush so that you can get into any cracks and corners. If you don’t have bleach, use regular white household vinegar or your favorite cleaning product (Pine-Sol or Lysol are good alternatives).
Tackle all surfaces: walls, floor, ceiling, shelving (underneath too). You want every square inch cleaned with no chance of any critters hiding. Open doors and wash the back edge and hinge area too.
Leave door ajar overnight to let space dry completely before adding stock items back to their places. Wait until larder is no longer humid from the washing before re-stocking.
As you put things back in their place, double check each for signs of contamination. Use a flashlight if you have to, really examine everything well. Check unopened packages, the clever creepers can still find their way in. Whatever you’re unsure about freeze for 5 days before returning to cupboard since both the bugs and the eggs will not survive the cold.
When bringing home dry food staples from the store, freeze for 4 or 5 days before shelving (to kill off larvae).
Store all flour, cereals, rice, pasta, starch foods, nuts, spices, in canisters, glass jars with tight lids or airtight plastic containers. Plastic ziplocs won’t do the trick since some can chew right through the bag. If an infestation is quite prolific, it’s not unheard of to open cardboard packages of paper, plastic wrap, etc., to find the insects have set up housekeeping there…you may have to remove all cardboard if this is the case for you (keeping inner sealed bagged goods that are untouched).
Stash a few Herb-Stuffed Pouches (filled with natural pest repellents) on shelves in between groceries. This will help repel and turn any new bugs away. Tuck a bay leaf or two inside canisters and sprinkle crushed bay leaves throughout pantry (weevils don’t like them). Small bowls of black pepper work too.
- Drips and spills from syrups, honey, etc.–wipe off immediately otherwise ants and other insects will be attracted.
- Once an infestation is noticed and a thorough cleaning job has been completed, keep a diligent eye on the larder. Whenever evidence of weevil activity or other critter is noticed, empty shelves again, wash everything well and repeat steps above until totally bug-free.
There’s no way around it, every single egg & larvae has to be removed or the pests will continue to appear and grow in numbers. Be diligent, it may take a time or two but you can successfully get rid of these creepers for good!