Do you have pests in your pantry? Strange bugs in your food? Weird crawling insects in the kitchen?
If you have seen a rather strange, long-nosed bug weevils crawling or flying in or around your pantry or cabinets where you store food, you most likely have an infestation of weevils in a food package. These bugs, most identifiable by their long snouts, do not harm people, pets, or home furnishings, but they do damage grains and seeds, and large populations can destroy food.
Weevils can be of two types: weevils that infest food and those that are destructive to outdoor plants. Either of them can be an annoyance in the home, but this article focuses on weevils in food.
10 Steps to Controlling Food-Infesting Weevils
- Inspect all stored foods to find all foods upon which the weevils are feeding or infesting.
- Weevils may be seen outside the area of foods they have infested, so it is important to check all foods in the home to ensure all weevils are found and eliminated.
- Closely examine the foods these insects prefer to eat: whole grains, seeds, rice, nuts, dried beans, cereals, corn, and other such foods.
- Discard or treat (see step 6) any foods in which weevils are found.
- Empty all foods (infested or not) from the pantry, or area that is infested.
- If you find a food that is infested, or you suspect it may be, and you want to try to kill the weevils instead of discarding the food, you need to first determine if it can withstand heat or cold. If so, you can kill the weevils, their eggs, pupae, and larvae can be killed by heating the product to 140 F for 15 minutes or freezing at 0 F for 3 days.
- Once all food is removed, vacuum the shelves (both top and bottom), and floor, using crevice and/or brush attachments and paying close attention to edges of shelves, floor/wall junctures, and corners to ensure all insects are captured. Empty or discard vacuum bag outdoors.
- Vacuum and/or clean all areas around the infested area, e.g., sweep and clean kitchen floors; remove items from countertops and clean thoroughly; pull out the stove, refrigerator, and other appliances and sweep and clean beneath.
- Wipe shelves clean, getting into cracks, crevices, and corners.
- For at least the next month, be sure that all foods are in tightly sealed containers or stored in refrigerator or freezer to ensure that the infestation is completely eliminated.
Professional or Chemical Treatment
Professional and chemical treatments are not needed or recommended for weevil control. This is because insecticides should not be used in or around foods and even spraying emptied areas won't help if they are not cleaned out as explained in the steps of this article.
If you do decide to use an insecticide, use ONLY those that are labeled for crack and crevice treatment in food areas and use ONLY in those cracks and crevices. Insecticides can never be applied to foods or surfaces, utensils or other items that can or will contact foods. As with any pesticide, thoroughly read and carefully follow all label directions.
Weevil and Pest Prevention in Stored Foods
To help prevent infestations:
- Store foods in insect-resistant containers, such as thick plastic or metal containers with tightly fitted lids. Or keep in the refrigerator or other cold storage.
- Do not add new, fresh food to old; and always clean out containers before refilling.
- Store pet foods, bird seed, etc. in buildings away from the house or basement areas well away from other foods.
- Do not purchase bagged or boxed foods with torn or damaged packaging.
- Do not buy bagged or boxed foods that are past their expiration dates.
- Do not overbuy food - just buy what you expect to use quickly. Or store excess in refrigerator or freezer.
- Keep pantry and other food areas clean and free of crumbs and loose foods. Clean spills immediately.
- Keep food storage areas dry; weevils are attracted to moisture.
"Controlling Stored Product Pests." Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
"Rice Weevil and Granary Weevil." Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.