Weevils are a type of beetle that commonly infest stored grains, cereals and other pantry items. They are small, usually ranging from 2 to 5 millimetres in size, and are typically brown or black in colour. Weevils are known for their distinctive long snouts, which they use to burrow into grains and lay their eggs. They are sometimes also referred to as flour bugs.
Seeing as they are very small, they can be hard to spot, but there are some signs you should look out for that may indicate the presence of weevils in your pantry.
Six signs of weevils in your pantry
- Fine dust inside or outside of food containers. Weevils leave behind a powdery substance as they consume dry food they have accessed.
- Damaged packets, such as cardboard boxes and plastic packaging with small holes. Weevils burrow into packaging, creating small holes as entry points.
- Fine webbing in starchy foods such as oats, rice, nuts, or sugar may be a sign that weevils have laid their eggs there.
- Holes in kernels, such as popping corn. Female weevils chew through kernels to lay eggs inside. Once hatched, the young weevils feed on the kernels from the inside, leaving more holes behind.
- A musty odour when you open your pantry. A strong, musty smell can emanate from infested areas.
- Thin, brown ‘shells’ which are actually insect remains. Dead weevils, stray legs, and moulted skin will look like tiny brown particles strewn in the food.
If you notice any of these signs in your pantry, it may indicate a weevil infestation, and it’s crucial to take prompt action to prevent further spread.
How to eliminate weevils from your home
Discovering weevils in your flour or rice can be unpleasant, but you can take steps to get rid of them effectively.
First, dispose of any infested food. Discard any food items, such as flour, rice, or pasta, in which you have found weevils. Seal them in rubbish bags and promptly take them outside to prevent further infestation.
If you find a food that is infested, or if you suspect it may be and you want to try to kill the weevils instead of discarding the food, you can usually kill the adult weevils, as well as the eggs, larvae, and pupae, by heating the product to 60 degrees C for at least 15 minutes or by freezing the product at 0 degrees or lower for three days.
Next, vacuum the area where weevils were found, use a vacuum attachment to reach into every corner and crevice. When emptying your vacuum cleaner, take it outside to prevent any stray weevils from returning to your kitchen.
Finally, wipe down all surfaces with a cloth soaked in white vinegar or a cleaning spray to sterilise your kitchen cabinet surfaces and eliminate any remaining eggs. In severe cases, you can also consider treating your pantry with kitchen-friendly pesticides that are designed to lure, trap and kill weevils, effectively keeping them away from your foods.
Any Tupperware or glass containers used for food storage should also be cleaned with hot water and dish soap before being returned to the cupboards. The goal here is to make sure that no adult weevils remain to establish a new infestation. These are very small insects, so they may escape your efforts unless you clean thoroughly.
Additional tips to keep your pantry weevil free
- store dry goods in clean, airtight containers
- always clean out containers before refilling
- store pet foods and birdseed in buildings away from the house or in an area well away from other foods
- check bagged or boxed food for damaged packaging before buying
- keep it clean and free of crumbs
- clean any spills immediately
- keep food storage areas dry (weevils are attracted to moisture)
- check regularly for signs of an infestation.
Have you ever had weevils in your pantry? How did you get rid of them? Let us know in the comments section below.