Your kitchen cupboards, pantry shelves, and kitchen cabinets can be a home for many bugs and critters.
These bugs invade kitchens looking for food and shelter.
Some of these bugs are tiny and black. They appear out of nowhere in your kitchen cupboards and storage sections.
This guide will reveal six tiny black bugs in kitchen cupboards that hide in your kitchen and infest your stored food.
You’ll find out where they come from and what you must do to get rid of them without damaging your stored food.
Let’s dive in.
6 Tiny Black Bugs In Kitchen Cupboards, Pantry Shelves, And Kitchen Storage
- Rice weevils
- Pantry beetles
- Sugar ants
- Baby roaches
- Drain flies
These bugs love your kitchen. Why?
Your kitchen is an endless supply of food and a reliable source of moisture that keeps them alive.
They invade homes from the outdoors. And drain flies can come out of the drains of your kitchen sink too.
Let’s find out how each of these bugs sneaks inside your kitchen and kitchen cupboards and why.
Rice Weevils – The Tiny Dark Brown Grain Beetle
Rice weevils are tiny beetles with a visible snout on their mouths. They’re dark brown.
However, they may first appear as black, especially inside the kitchen cupboards and cabinets.
Rice weevils infest rice and other stored grains your kitchen.
Some of their primary targets are rice, flour, spaghetti, cereals, and nuts.
Weevils enter homes from outdoors. They fly in through open doors and windows inside your kitchen to infest the stored food.
They can also crawl through the gaps and crevices on the window frames, doors, and walls.
Another common way weevils enter homes is by being already present in the grain packets that you buy from grocery stores.
Initially, their numbers were low.
But if you don’t get rid of them, their numbers skyrocket fast. And they spill over all over your kitchen.
You see these tiny grain bugs crawling on the kitchen cupboards, pantry shelves, countertops, and kitchen sink.
Weevils are also moisture bugs. So, to sustain themselves, they’ll find out the sources of moisture.
Hence, they can land up on your kitchen sink.
Weevils in the bathroom are also common when too many of them are in your home.
Weevils don’t cause severe damage to stored grains.
Some of the grains can look serrated because they chew onto them. But that’s not a contamination sign.
Keeping the grains under the sun or putting them inside the freezer will kill the weevils.
Weevils don’t bite. Nor do they cause any diseases.
And even if you accidentally eat a few weevils because they’re present in the rice or grains you cooked, you’ll be fine.
Pantry Beetles – The Most Common Tiny Black Bugs In Kitchen Cupboards
If you’re seeing tiny black bugs in your kitchen cupboards, then the chances are that they’re pantry beetles (if they’re not ants) eight out of ten times.
Pantry beetles is a common name for a host of beetles that infest stored food.
Primarily, four types of pantry beetles infest foods in kitchen cupboards, cabinets, and pantries.
They’re flour beetles, carpet beetles, larder beetles, and cigarette beetles.
Flour beetles and cigarette beetles are dark brown, but some can have a blackish hue.
In contrast, carpet beetles are tiny bugs with brown and white patches. But that’s when they’re young.
As they age, carpet beetles turn black or dark blackish brown.
Unlike the rice weevils, the pantry beetles can seriously damage your food.
If they can reach the food stored in the kitchen cupboards and pantries, they can damage them.
On top of that, carpet beetles can also lay eggs in the stored food.
The carpet beetle larvae feast on the stored food that helps them progress through the larval stage to the pupae stage and become adults.
Larder beetles belong to the same family of carpet beetles, but they’re tiny black beetles with a brown patch on them.
Larder beetles and their larvae are a bigger risk to your stored food than carpet beetles.
They can also infest stored meat and dairy products like cheese and butter.
You’ll notice carpet beetles and larder beetles in your kitchen cupboard, kitchen pantry, and other food storage areas.
That often happens when these bugs enter your kitchen and look for a place to lay their eggs.
These beetles enter homes to lay their eggs on the stored food and natural fabrics like wool, silk, leather, fur, and feathers because the larvae feed on them.
If you don’t get rid of them during the early stages, their numbers can shoot up inside your home.
That can cause both carpet beetles and larder beetles to sneak and hide inside your bedroom.
In contrast, flour beetles are tiny flour bugs that specifically target flour of all types.
They’ll feast on the flour, discard their feces on it, and even lay eggs on the flour.
That contaminates the flour. The sign of contamination is that the flour turns stale and develops yellow stains.
It also starts to emit an unpleasant odor.
However, both flour and cigarette beetles can target various types of stored food.
That includes dry fruits, cookies, biscuits, grains, lentils, pet food, and other packaged foods.
Both larder beetles and carpet beetles are active from the late spring to late fall. It’s during this period they enter homes to lay eggs.
In contrast, flour beetles and cigarette beetles enter homes by being present in the packaged food and grains you buy.
That’s their primary way of making their way into the kitchen.
All these pantry beetles have strong mouthparts.
That makes it easy for them to chew through flimsy food storage jars, plastic and paper packaging, and cardboard boxes and access the food in them.
When too many of them are in your kitchen, they’ll venture out of the food they infest.
That’s when you notice these tiny bugs crawling on the shelves of your kitchen cupboards, pantry shelves, kitchen countertops, and on the kitchen floor.
Sugar Ants – The Tiny Orangish-Black Ants In The Kitchen
Ants in the kitchen have their unique ways of finding stored food and nesting sites.
If there is loosely packaged food in the kitchen cupboards or food spillovers in the cabinets and pantry shelves, the ants will find them.
Many species of ants can invade your kitchen and home.
Some of them are carpenter ants, grease ants, and even the red fire ants if you live in states like Florida and Texas.
However, the most common ants in the kitchen are sugar ants.
These ants target the food waste in the kitchen trash bin, the food stains on the kitchen countertops and sinks, and the food stored in the kitchen pantry, cupboards, and cabinets.
It all begins with a random ant scavenging in your kitchen for sources of food.
And when it finds the stored food in the kitchen cupboards, other ants reach the cupboard by following the pheromone trail the ant leaves behind.
Sugar ants primarily feed on greasy and sweet things like jelly, jam, honey, and foodstuff that contain sugar.
Protein-rich food like meat, fish, and nuts can also be their targets.
Sugar ants are tiny black ants that are only 2mm in size. However, the female sugar ants can be bigger and orangish black.
They sneak inside homes in the summer, looking for moisture and food sources.
Sugar ants hide in the thin gaps and cracks on the kitchen cupboards and kitchen pantries as it’s closer to the food source.
Cracks and crevices on the kitchen walls and floors are also hiding places for these ants.
Black Baby Roaches In Kitchen Cupboards
The last thing that you’d like to see in your kitchen cupboards are black baby cockroaches.
Baby roaches look like bed bugs, but they’re not flat like bed bugs. And you can notice the antennae on the baby roaches.
Presence of baby roaches in your kitchen cupboard and storage indicate two things: there’s a roach nest in your kitchen cupboard and a roach infestation.
Both ways, it’s a bad sign to see baby roaches in your food storage section like kitchen cupboards, pantry, and cabinets.
Roaches carry disease-causing pathogens that they can transfer to your stored food.
Baby roaches in the kitchen cupboards can belong to any roach species that invade homes.
They can be babies of sewer or drain roaches that invade homes from sink drains and sewer lines.
Or they can be babies of German roaches who prefer to hide and nest in drier places.
German roaches will build their nests behind the food storage jars in the tight sections of the kitchen cupboard and kitchen pantry.
They can also build their nests and hide on the top shelf of the kitchen storage because of less human intervention in those places.
The roach nests are full of dead roaches and feces because the baby roaches feast on both.
If there are baby roaches in your kitchen cupboard, then you might have to inspect the rest of the kitchen for roach presence.
Drain Flies In Kitchen Cupboard
Drain flies in kitchen cupboards aren’t a common occurrence. If you find them, then it’s because they landed there accidentally.
Drain flies are moisture bugs.
Their presence in the kitchen cupboard and elsewhere in your kitchen indicates drain flies are in the kitchen sink drain.
And it’s from there these tiny black fuzzy-looking moth-like flying bugs come out.
Drain flies are common kitchen sink bugs.
They build their nests in the gunk and slime that chokes drains of your sinks in the bathroom, kitchen, basement, and laundry room.
Drain flies are also common in the bathroom because it has too many drains like a shower drain, sink drain, and bathtub drain for them to infest.
They lay eggs in the wastes blocking the drain.
The larvae of these flies, which are tiny creamy worms, feast on these damp wastes.
At the peak of their infestation, drain flies larvae can be visible in places like the bathroom floor.
The molds and wastes stuck on the shower grout attract the drain flies larvae and many other tiny bugs.
These tiny bugs on shower grout feast on the molds and wastes that get stuck in the gaps that develop on the floor tiles.
Psocids Mites In Kitchen Cupboards
Psocids mites, also known as booklice, are pantry pests and mold bugs.
They’re tiny and under the microscope they’re not black. They’re whitish brown.
However, many psocids mites can look black if you see them with a naked eye.
These mites can infest the stored grains in your kitchen, especially rice and cereals.
But psocids mites’ primary food source is the molds and fungi that develop on damp surfaces.
So, if you’re seeing them in your kitchen cupboard and on other hard surfaces in your kitchen, then chances are there’s high dampness in your home.
Most of the time, psocids mites stick with damp places like the kitchen sink and on the surfaces where molds develop.
So, moldy walls, floors, and even books that have molds can attract the psocids mites.
Psocids mites are moisture bugs that sneak inside homes during the peak summer months.
They enter homes from outdoors, looking for cooler places to live and to find the source of moisture to survive.
Their presence in the kitchen isn’t as alarming as the presence of grain beetles and baby roaches.
Psocids mites are harmless, and they don’t carry any diseases. They don’t bite either.
However, they multiply fast and turn into a nuisance.
Soon, they’ll be everywhere in your kitchen and home if you don’t control the moisture in your home and you don’t get rid of them.
In your kitchen cupboard and elsewhere in your kitchen and home, psocids mites look like tiny black specks of moving dust.
These mites are common in other damp areas of your home like the bathroom, basement, and laundry room.
In the bathroom, psocids mites will feed on the molds and wastes that get stuck in the shower grouts, floor, and drain.
As water usage is relatively high in your kitchen, psocids mites can also be present in your kitchen.
How To Get Rid Of Bugs In Kitchen Cupboards?
Bugs in kitchen cupboards are a part of a bigger problem. And the problem is that there are bugs in your kitchen.
So, for a permanent solution, you’ll need to get rid of the bugs in the kitchen.
However, there are some quick wins that you can achieve by following the steps to eliminate the bugs in the kitchen cupboards, pantry, and kitchen storage areas.
Here are the seven steps to get rid of tiny bugs in kitchen cupboards
Step#1 – Vacuum Clean The Kitchen Cupboard
Remove everything from your kitchen cupboard and kitchen pantry. That includes all the food storage jars and food packets.
Then vacuum clean each shelf of the kitchen cupboard and kitchen pantry. Vacuuming will remove all the food spillovers and dirt lying on the shelves.
It’ll also remove any bugs on the kitchen cupboard.
You may also want to do a thorough cleaning of your kitchen because if there’s waste in your kitchen, bugs will invade the kitchen.
So, vacuum cleans your kitchen floor and countertops and dispose of the wastes in the kitchen trash bins.
Step#2 – Wipe The Kitchen Cupboard And Its Shelves With Soapy Water
After vacuuming, take a cotton cloth and soak it in soapy water.
Then wipe clean the kitchen cupboard and its shelves.
You can use a lemon-based detergent to prepare the soapy water because the citric smell of lemon is repellant to many bugs.
Ensure that you clean all the tight corners and edges of the kitchen cupboard.
Wiping off the kitchen cupboard with soapy water also removes any pheromone trails ants leave behind for the other ants to follow.
Also, clean the hard surfaces near the kitchen cupboards, like the kitchen countertop and the kitchen sink, with soapy water.
It’ll remove the food stains on these places that draw these bugs.
Use a mold cleaner to remove the molds that developed on hard surfaces like your kitchen furniture, walls, and floor.
Removing molds essential to keep your kitchen and kitchen storage sections free from mold mites and psocids mites.
Do not use bleach to remove molds from wooden surfaces, as bleach can damage them.
Step#3 – Store Your Food Properly In Airtight Containers
These tiny bugs hide in your kitchen cupboard because they can access the stored food in the storage jars.
You must store your grains, cereals, and other edibles in sturdy thick airtight jars.
That stops food grain spillovers. And the pantry beetles can’t chew through the strong surface of these jars.
Step#4 – Seal The Gaps And Cracks On The Kitchen Cupboard
The gaps and cracks on the kitchen cupboard, kitchen walls, and floors are hiding places for many bugs, especially roaches and ants.
Seal those gaps and cracks with a quality sealant.
We recommend silicone-based sealants as they’re durable, tough, and bugs can’t chew through them.
High dampness damages the walls and floors. It becomes easier for bugs like roaches and termites to get inside damaged walls and build their nests.
So, if the walls and floors of your kitchen need repair, repair them.
Do not forget to check out gaps and cracks on the window frames, window sills, and kitchen walls. If you find any, seal them.
Carpet beetles, larder beetles, roaches, and ants exploit these cracks to make an entry into your kitchen.
Step#5 – Fix Leaking Pipes To Control The Dampness In The Kitchen
Moisture and stored food are why these pantry pests invade your kitchen cupboards and storage.
And what causes moisture and high dampness?
The leaking pipes.
Water from the leaky pipes spreads on the kitchen floor, kitchen cupboard, walls, and even in places like kitchen counters.
That leads to their damage and the formation of molds and fungi. And the presence of molds invites psocids mites and mold mites.
So, fix the leaking pipes underneath kitchen sinks.
Check your dishwasher if it’s appropriately disposing of water.
If it’s not, then the clogged dishwasher can also increase the dampness in the walls and floors surrounding it.
Also, check the kitchen sink drain if water is passing through it.
A clogged kitchen sink drain becomes a nesting ground for drain flies.
Not to mention, it’s also a home of drain roaches that comes out of the drains and infest your home and kitchen.
Step#6 – Lay Pantry Pest Traps
Pantry pest traps come in handy in stopping these tiny black bugs from inhabiting your kitchen cupboard.
These traps are gluey, and some of them also have pheromones that attract these pantry pests.
When these pests land on the sticky surface, they get trapped.
So, keep these pantry pest traps near your kitchen pantry, in the kitchen cupboards, kitchen cabinets, and in other sections of your kitchen where you store food.
Place these traps overnight. Dispose of these traps with bugs stuck on them the following day.
Step#7 – Use Smells That Repel Pantry Pests
There’s no better way to stop an infestation than to prevent an infestation.
And one of the ways to prevent pantry pest infestation is to use smells that pantry bugs hate.
Peppermint is one of them.
You can use peppermint oil spray on the kitchen cupboard, kitchen pantry, kitchen cabinets, and in the nooks and corners of your kitchen.
Bugs hate the smell of peppermint and avoid places that emit the mint smell.
You can also use white vinegar. Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and water and spray it in your kitchen.
The acidic smell of vinegar keeps the bugs away.
However, many people dislike the acidic smell of vinegar too. So, if you’re one of them, it’ll be best to stick with peppermint oil spray.
After spraying, you can keep bay leaves and cinnamon sticks inside your kitchen cupboard and in the other storage sections of your kitchen.
The smell from bay leaves and cinnamon also repels bugs and protects your stored food from pantry pest infestation.
The six common tiny black bugs in kitchen cupboards are –
- Rice weevils
- Pantry beetles
- Sugar ants
- Baby roaches
- Drain flies
Except for drain flies, all the other bugs on the list are pantry pests.
Stored food in the kitchen cupboards, kitchen pantry, and kitchen cabinets draw these bugs to your kitchen.
Other reasons are high moisture, molds because of the humidity, and poorly stored food.
This guide revealed what each bug targets in your kitchen cupboard.
There’s also a step-by-step instruction that you can use right now to eliminate these bugs from your kitchen cupboard and kitchen.
We are Mark and Jim. We dabbled with bugs and pests for most of our lives. And we provide information and hacks that work in making your home pest free.