What are the weevils and bugs discovered in flour, rice, lentils and beans

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Kitchen weevil infestations in dry food

If you're here because you've found lots of little brown bugs in a bag of flour, rice, beans, lentils etc., then it is very likely that you have an infestation of weevils or beetles. There are any number of insects that exhibit this behaviour in stored foodstuffs, if you want to identify the exact species, here is a good place to start.

This page does not pretend to be a scientific dissertation, you have Wikipedia for that. Anyway, knowing its Latin name is will hardly be your priority. You want to know how to get rid of them and how to prevent them returning and spoiling your food.

I can only speak from our experience; we had an infestation about 3 years ago. The were around for a long time but we eventually managed to prevent them getting into the stored food.

Why prevention is better than cure

The adults of some of these species live from between 8 months to 3 years and can easily survive and breed profusely in conditions found in most British kitchens. Most kitchen cupboards have numerous crevices and cracks that you won't be able clean or disinfect without dismantling the whole kitchen. We destroyed all packaged dry foodstuffs; flour, rice, cornmeal, beans, lentils and pasta (yes they like pasta too!). We steam-cleaned the cupboards and disinfected everywhere. I few months later and they were back. The bugs can certainly chew through normal plastic packaging, so don't think you're safe by leaving food sealed in its packet. If you look carefully at an infested bag, you will see little woodworm holes everywhere.

The solution, for us

Our solution was to store all of problematic dry goods in plastic clip-lidded Lock and Lock boxes. The plastic is too heavy for the weevils to chew through. If there is the slightest chance that something might be eaten/infested, put it in a lidded box.

If you always store problematic food this way, if you hapen to purchase infested food, the damage will be limited to inside that one container and not spread to the entire kitchen.

The source of our infestation

We're pretty sure that our first weevil infestation came in a large bag of gram flour (flour ground from chickpeas).

Other ways to get rid of weevils

I've seen lots of suggestions, none of which I much like, however, it will list them here for your benefit:

  • Vacuum packaging - make sure the plastic is thick enough to prevent them eating through it
  • Freeze the flour etc for 3 or 4 days to kill the bugs before storing the food
  • Add bay leaves to containers, the aroma is supposed to deter bugs
  • Spray cupboards with bleach
  • Spray cupboards with Pyrethrum insecticide

Anything that kills them, still leaves them in your flour or rice, except they'll be dead when you eat them. That includes the eggs laid inside the grains (sealed with bug-spittle) and perhaps even the small larvae that they hatch into. I think I prefer my method!

Food likely to be infested

See also

The best Wikipedia article on food bugs and their infestations - This article contains links to almost all know food pests of this type. A great starting point for the ambitious mind!

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