Imagine you’re about to make dough for your favorite bread. You open the flour jar, and you get disgusted by the sight of crawling little bugs in the flour.
You wonder where they come from and if the flour is good to eat.
In this guide, you’ll find out what those tiny bugs in the flour are and how they make their way to your kitchen pantry.
Plus, and most importantly, you’ll find three actionable tips to get rid of flour bugs.
Types Of Little Bugs In Flour
Your pantry can be a host to a variety of pests. These pests are known as pantry pests.
And pantry pests infest a wide range of stored foods in your kitchen pantry like rice, grains, beans, cereals, nuts, seeds, and flour.
Different species of pantry pests hide in your kitchen.
Your kitchen pantry can harbor them all, from flying moths to crawling beetles and even microscopic white bugs.
But some specific pests attack flour of all types, like wheat flour and corn flour.
So, what are these little bugs in the flour?
Let’s find it out.
Your kitchen pantry is no stranger to weevils. Weevils are among the most widespread bugs that infest grains like rice, cereals, maize, corn, and even flour.
Weevils are a type of pantry beetle. The only difference between the pantry beetles and weevils is that the weevils have a visible snout.
There are different types of weevils, depending on the type of stored grain the weevils infest.
For example, there are rice weevils that primarily infest stored rice. And then there are granary weevils and maize weevils.
Any weevil can infest flour. These weevils are generally black, but they can also come in different shades like reddish-brown and dark brown.
Weevils are tiny, and they grow up to 1/8th of an inch.
So, how do these weevils get into the flour stored safely on the shelves of your kitchen pantry?
Well, there’s no exact answer to it, but there are only possibilities.
Weevils can fly, and weevils can also chew through thin plastic and paper packaging.
So, the grain and flour packets that you buy from your nearest grocery can have weevils hiding and breeding in them.
It’s because pantry pests are pretty common in big warehouses and granaries from where grocery stores source their products.
Also, when the weather outside turns hot and dry, adult weevils look for a moist and cool place to hide.
That makes them crawl in or fly inside your home through the cracks and gaps on your home’s walls.
Once inside your home, they tend to flock in moist and damp places. So, your kitchen and even bathroom are the ideal places for the weevils to hide.
Your kitchen has all the necessities that weevils need to survive and breed. It has stored grains for them to eat and tight corners and gaps to hide.
The best part is that weevils don’t bite or sting humans or pets, nor do they carry any diseases.
The Confused Flour Beetle
The confused flour beetle damages and infests dry stored food like grains and flour.
They’re tan in color and look very similar to red flour beetles. The confused flour beetle is about a quarter of an inch long, and it has a pair of antennae on its head.
Confused flour beetles cannot fly. So, the confused flour beetle’s source lies in the grocery store and warehouses from where you buy your grains and flour.
Like the weevils, the confused flour beetle can also chew through the packaging.
Once they’re inside the packet, they’ll feed on the flour and will lay eggs on it too.
The eggs are microscopic, and if you’ve got good eyesight, then you’ll observe tiny lumps of flour on the surface.
Those are eggs of the confused flour beetle.
Upon hatching, the larvae from the eggs will feed on the flour. If the eggs are on other stored grains like rice and cereals, then they’ll feed on them too.
The worst part?
These larvae will also defecate on the flour and the grains they infest.
The larvae of the confused flour beetle are creamy yellow or whitish brown with tiny bristles of hair on the body.
Before reaching adulthood, these larvae form a cocoon that they hide before emerging out of it as an adult.
The cocoon is known as the pupae. And they look like a whitish-yellow capsule with horizontal scales on them.
Adult confused beetles will emerge out of the pupae in 40 to 90 days.
And the first thing they do after breaking out from their cocoon is mate.
If you don’t get rid of them from the flour and other stored foods, they can mate throughout the year.
That’ll make their population go over the roof inside your kitchen pantry.
An adult confused beetle can live up to three years under normal conditions.
The confused flour beetle is quite adventurous.
When they sneak out of the food storage jars, you’ll find them walking randomly in a drunkard fashion on the kitchen cabinets and the countertops.
That’s why they’ve got their name as the confused flour beetle.
So, the tiny brown bugs in the kitchen cabinets you see can be the confused flour beetles.
It also shows that your kitchen pantry is harboring pantry pests. You’ll find out how to get rid of them in a minute.
These beetles don’t bite, and they don’t carry any diseases. They also don’t cause any structural damage to your home.
But the confused flour beetle can cause allergic reactions in some people who’re allergic to bugs.
The Red Flour Beetle
The red flour beetle is similar to the confused flour beetle in its looks and infestation habits.
But there are some minor differences.
The first and the most significant difference is that the red flour beetle can fly, and they’re attracted to light.
So they can fly into your kitchen and home from outside.
The second difference is the color. Red flour beetles are reddish-brown to red.
The third difference, which is very subtle, and most people don’t know, is that you can see the head of the red flour beetle with its tiny mandibles from above.
In the confused flour beetle, it’s not visible.
And the fourth difference is that the red flour beetle infests kitchen pantries in the southern US, where the weather is warmer.
In contrast, the confused flour beetle is more common in the northern states with cooler climates.
The Flour Mites
Another common, yet often ignored because of its microscopic size, are the flour mites.
Flour mites are off-whitish tiny flour bugs that infest flour and grains in the pantry and the grain storages.
They’ve got brownish or pinkish legs. And they look like white lint, which camouflages them with flour.
Flour mites are so tiny that you, even with normal eyesight, can easily overlook them.
If you observe a brownish layering on the flour, there’s a high possibility of flour mites infestation.
To confirm, take a pinch of flour and smell it. If there’s a minty smell coming from the flour, then that’s for sure there are flour mites in the flour.
Flour mites, like the weevils, can be present inside the flour even before you bought it home.
Flour mites will feed and lay eggs on the flour. The food made from flour infested with flour mites develops a sweet taste.
How To Get Rid Of Little Bugs In Flour
Now that you know about the tiny bugs in flour and how they infest your kitchen pantry let’s find out how to eliminate flour bugs.
Getting rid of flour bugs is easy, and you can do it right away.
And, you don’t need any insecticide spray to get rid of them. We highly recommend not to use any insecticide spray to get rid of flour bugs.
Here are the steps to eliminate flour bugs –
Keep The Flour Jar In The Freezer To Kill The Flour Bugs
The cold temperature kills the flour bugs. And the simplest yet most ingenious way to kill flour bugs is by keeping the flour jar in the freezer.
Keep the flour jar inside the freezer for at least 24 hours. The cold temperature inside the freezer will kill the adult flour bugs, their eggs, and the larvae.
It’d be best to buy flour in small quantities and keep the flour packet inside the freezer before you pour it into the storage jars.
That’ll kill any flour bugs that may have made their way inside the packet at the warehouse or the grocery stores.
Keep A Cinnamon Stick Inside The Flour Jar
The smell of the cinnamon repels many bugs. And keeping a small cinnamon stick inside the flour jar will protect all the flour from the flour bugs.
Alternatively, you can also keep a bay leaf inside the flour jar.
Also, ensure that you keep the flour inside a thick airtight container that weevils and beetles can’t chew through.
Vacuum Clean Your Kitchen To Make Your Kitchen Uninhabitable For Pantry Pests
Begin with vacuuming your kitchen. If you’ve found flour bugs in the flour, then that’s for sure that your kitchen and pantry are inhabitable for other types of pantry pests.
And nothing attracts pantry pests more than spilled food and grains in the kitchen and the pantry.
Ensure that you vacuum clean kitchen cabinets, pantry shelves, and other storage places in your kitchen.
Vacuuming denies the food source to the pantry pests that help in controlling and eliminating them.
To know more on how to keep your kitchen and pantry safe from pantry pests, read our post here.
Is Flour Infested With Flour Bugs Safe To Eat?
Let’s face it, very few of us are fond of eating bugs.
But what if you prepare something out of the flour with the flour bugs and eat it?
It’s safe, and it won’t cause any immediate harm.
However, eating bug-infested food can have some severe consequences.
So, it’d be best to get rid of all types of pantry pests in the kitchen.
But, if the flour has turned brownish and emits a stench, then dispose of it. These signs show that the flour is unfit to eat and, no matter what you make out of it, will taste bad.
There are four types of little flour bugs – weevils, the confused flour beetle, the red flour beetle, and the flour mites.
In this guide, you’ve found out why and how these bugs get to the flour in your kitchen. And what you can do to get rid of them.
But remember that flour bugs are pantry pests. Signs of flour bugs in the flour indicate the presence of other types of pantry pests in your kitchen and pantry.
To know more about how to secure your kitchen from pantry pests, check out our post on pantry pests.
We’re Mark and Jim. We were serial pest killers for almost all of our lives. Through this blog we spread pest murdering tips to people like you who want to keep their homes pest free.