A few months ago I bought a few packages of pasta. A few weeks later I saw through the window of the package
that there were weevils in them, so I threw the pasta out. I thought that was the end of it. Nope. This week I found them in a giant bag of white rice and a bag of white flour. I then spent a good part of my week opening packages in my pantry, dumping out the contents, searching for bugs, repackaging everything and wiping down my shelves with Lysol. I had the beginnings of a cold and I wanted someone to put me out of my misery. (Fortunately the little bugs had not migrated anywhere else.)
Weevils are tiny beetles that like to eat grains and nuts, but particularly rice. If you find one in a package you can pretty much guarantee that the entire package is contaminated. Weevils burrow into a grain of rice (or whatever food) and lay their eggs (maggots) which aren’t visible to the naked eye when mixed in rice or flour.
Isn’t that a lovely thought? They can chew through plastic, cardboard and paper. And they can fly. So let’s discuss how to vacate(and keep) these little bugs out of your food storage.
Getting Rid of Weevils
- Throw out any contaminated packages.
- Thoroughly clean pantry shelves, cracks and crevices. I recommend vacuuming first, then wiping down with Lysol or white vinegar.
- Wiping shelves down with Eucalyptus oil discourages weevils.
- Dispose of contaminated packages and empty vacuum containers outside, away from your house.
- Check frequently for reappearance.
Preventing a Weevil Infestation
- Inspect all grains on purchase. (I know that ones is easier said than done.)
- Freeze grains for at least a week after purchase to kill any eggs. (At first this sounds totally daunting. Freezing a year supply of rice for a family of five? Who has that kind of freezer space? But don’t buy your rice all at once, and freeze it a little at a time.)
- Store grains in tightly sealed glass, metal or heavy plastic containers.
- Regularly clean your pantry. (I’ll admit with grad school I’ve let that one slip.)
- Small bags of black pepper placed throughout your pantry may repel weevils.
- Bay leaves in bags of rice or flour can also repel weevils.
It is possible to eat weevils and it won’t hurt you. It’s just insect protein. And people in 3rd world countries do this all the time! I’d just rather not. Weevil eggs and exoskeletons are actually present in most flour. If you want to be doubly sure that you are not consuming insect parts in your food you can run all of your flour through a sifter before using it.