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What are Pantry Bugs?

Have you opened a bag of flour or rice from your cabinet and noticed insects? What are pantry bugs and why do they appear in our grains?

what are pantry bugs

What are Pantry Bugs?

If you haven’t ever seen insects in your grains, you are probably wondering what are pantry bugs? There are several kinds of pantry and flour bugs, unfortunately, and they are all pretty gross. The most common are the confused flour beetle, the red flour beetle and the grain weevil.

Confused flour beetles are dark, almost black – they have six legs and long bodies and they measure between 3 and 6 mm in length.

Red flour beetles have a more reddish color but similar in size, and are able to fly short distances. Yikes!

Grain weevils have long bodies and eight legs and brown color. They can chew through plastic and let themselves into your home.

what are pantry bugs infographic

When you are looking at pantry or flour bugs, they are so small it’s hard to tell which kind you have, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. You can get rid of pantry bugs the same way no matter which kind.

You have to remember that pantry and flour bugs don’t go to dirty homes. They just nest wherever they are, so just because you find them in your home it doesn’t mean your home is dirty. Although I promise it can feel like it! I’ve had them twice before and it’s not fun. As long as you take precautions with your grains and flours, you will keep yourself from having to deal with an infestation of pantry bugs.

Here’s a really fun but gross fact about flour beetles:
The adult females lay their eggs in the flour, and about a week later, these eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae look like thick-bodied worms and are yellow in color. They feed on the flour, slowly increasing in size before eventually maturing into adults. (source: Green Leaf Organic Pest Management)


Pantry bugs are gross but they don’t spoil the flour with toxins nor do they bite. So at least there’s that.

What do pantry beetles like to eat?

The list of what flour beetles eat includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • flour
  • pasta
  • cereal
  • corn meal
  • whole wheat
  • oats
  • rye
  • barley
  • rice
  • corn
bay leaf leaves for pantry and flour bugs

How to prevent pantry bugs

  • Inspect all grains when you buy them
  • Freeze grains for at least 1 week (or store permanently in the freezer) to kill any eggs
  • Buy grains in small quantities so they don’t sit for long periods of time
  • Store grains in tightly sealed glass, metal, or hard plastic containers
  • Regularly clean pantry cracks, crevices, and shelves (try this homemade insect repellent spray for the kitchen)
  • My favorite: put 1-2 bay leaves in the containers
  • Whole pepper seeds can work as well, just put them in the corners of your cabinets.

Now I am going to have a look in my cupboards…

Read more about How to Get Rid of Pantry Bugs.

More info on bugs in the pantry

Pantry Bugs

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Natural Pest Control for Your Home

Bodynsoil

Monday 19th of November 2018

Great post, I didn't know about peppercorns and bay leaves. As someone who has thrown an entire pantry of grains away, this post hits home.

I've only had a few experiences with pantry bugs and they aren't pretty. Neither is adding a grain to a dish as you cook, only to see molted skins floating to the top.

I store all grains in hard plastc or glass and haven't been bothered.