It’s an all-too-familiar scene: You’re looking for something in your pantry when you chance upon these tiny black things lingering in your cupboards, or you’re trying to cook rice when you spot miniscule bugs mixed together with the grains. It’s the weevils again! Should you be worried?
Are Weevils Harmful?
Weevils are not harmful. They can be an unpleasant sight, but they aren’t dangerous to humans. Because weevils are herbivores, they can often be seen in our food (grains, starches, cereals in particular). But they are not poisonous, and even eating them does not pose any health risks.
Even though weevils are not harmful to us, they can be a real nuisance, as they can easily spread in our food storage areas and even get mixed with our food.
In the rest of this article, I am going to talk about how to prevent a weevil infestation as well as how to get rid of weevils in your home.
How to Spot Weevils at Home
Weevils are very tiny bugs, making them hard to spot unless you actively search for them or accidentally mix them in your food when cooking. Also, weevils lay their eggs by creating tiny holes inside seeds. These eggs hatch into larvae and develop into full-term inside these seeds, making them virtually undetectable until they are fully grown.
Thankfully, even though spotting weevils can be a challenge, there are ways to do it effectively.
Check for Active Adult Weevils
Though they are pretty tiny (the smallest ones can measure about an eighth of an inch), you can spot them easily in sacks of grain, rice, or cereal products. They are either black or reddish in color, and live ones move quite a lot. The contrast in color and their activity help make them detectable in a food container.
If you’re wondering whether your food containers at home are infested, try to pour out some of the contents on a hard, flat surface, and check for moving adult weevils.
Getting rid of adult weevils is very important in preventing a much larger infestation, because these are the ones that lay eggs. And unless they are removed, they will continue to multiply. If you see any adult insects in your containers, throw the contents away and wash the containers immediately afterwards.
Accidentally mixing weevils in your food is not poisonous or harmful, but it certainly does not make food appetizing.
Inspect Really Dusty Food Containers
Another sign that you have a weevil infestation at home is if you notice that your bag of rice or grains is drier and dustier than usual. This is an indication that adult weevils have laid their eggs in the seeds, leaving behind a dusty residue from boring holes on the seeds.
Bags of rice or grains that are a bit dusty are normal, but if you notice that there is a noticeable layer of dusty residue in your container, do not leave it as it is. Pour out some of the bag’s contents and check for seed husks as well as adult weevils.
If weevils have just laid eggs in the seeds, you will typically see not just a thick, dusty residue, but also a few adult insects as well.
Once you confirm that there are weevils in your food container, throw the contents out and wash the container before reusing it. If your container was a sack or a bag, throw these out and do not reuse them. They are most likely broken or have tiny holes through which the insects got in.
How to Get Rid of Weevils
An infestation can become widespread if not detected early. And when that happens, they can be a real nuisance to get rid of. If you know that you have weevils in your pantry or kitchen, here are things that you can do:
Throw Away Infested Food
As soon as you notice signs of weevil infestation (such as the presence of adult weevils and signs that new weevil eggs have been laid), throw away infested food immediately. Weevils can lay up to 250 eggs at a time, and you certainly don’t want to wait until those eggs have hatched and grow to lay more eggs.
A weevil egg typically grows into an adult in five weeks’ time. That may sound like a lot of time, but because you can’t tell for sure how long ago the eggs were laid in the seeds by the time you purchased the bag or sack, it’s best not to wait.
Clean Your Pantry
When you have disposed of infested food, don’t forget to clean your pantry thoroughly. Adult weevils not only live inside food containers. They also like to linger around areas where food droppings are usually found.
It’s best to wash with soap and water and vacuum every corner of your pantry, cupboards, and cabinets to make sure you get rid of any adult weevils that are left behind as well as bits of food that insects could feed on.
How to Prevent a Weevil Infestation
The best thing to do, of course, is to prevent a weevil infestation altogether. It takes so much less work and time to keep the weevils out than getting rid of hundreds of tiny bugs that never stop multiplying.
To prevent a weevil infestation, here’s what you can do:
Check Newly Purchased Food Bags or Containers
When you buy rice, grain, and other cereal products wholesale, make sure to check the bags or sacks that they come in outside the house first. You will want to check for any holes in these bags or sacks as well as any signs of adult weevils or any seed husk residue.
Do not accept food that comes in damaged containers or that is past the expiration date. These are most prone to weevil infestations.
Freeze Grains and Cereals
If you purchased smaller bags of grains or rice, you can freeze them for at least four days before transferring the contents to an airtight container. Exposing weevils to heat or extremely low temperatures kills them.
Before cooking or preparing food, always check the grains or rice first.
Do Not Combine New and Old Stocks
If you purchase new stocks of grain or rice, do not mix them with the old stock. Finish the old batch first, then thoroughly clean the container. Only after you’ve done that should you pour in the new stock. This will help prevent cross-contamination if you unknowingly have weevils in the old stock.
Clean Pantry Regularly
Lastly, make sure to keep a clean pantry, as well as a dining and kitchen area. This will make sure that insects have no leftover food or food droppings to be attracted to or feed on. Clean and vacuum cupboards and cabinets regularly to get rid of food debris.
Weevils are not harmful to our health, but they are definitely not a pleasant sight to see in our food. To make sure they don’t breed in your home, make sure to carefully inspect any food bags that are coming to your home. Additionally, be sure you maintain a clean pantry and kitchen.