Bugs that infest rice are pantry pests. They target not only your rice but also a wide range of stored foods, including flour, cereals, corn, maize, and pasta.
These rice bugs mysteriously appear in the jars of your stored rice and grains.
But nothing happens without any reason. So, in this guide, you’ll find out what causes bugs in rice.
You’ll know the top five factors that attract these bugs to your rice and grains.
You’ll also learn the proven steps you can implement right now to get rid of rice bugs from your rice and kitchen without using professional pest control.
5 Commonly Found Bugs In Rice
Before we get into the top causes of bugs in rice and stored grains in your kitchen pantry, let’s find the bugs that infest them.
These are rice weevils, flour bugs like flour beetles, rice moths, and grain mites. Out of these, the rice weevils and the flour bugs are the most prevalent rice bugs.
Let’s find out how to identify these bugs and the damage they can cause to rice and other stored foods.
Rice weevils are small bugs, growing up to 2.5-3.5 mm in size. They’ve elongated oval-shaped bodies, which are reddish brown, with six legs and four yellowish-red spots on their wings.
Rice weevils are grain beetles. But their anatomy is a distinguishing factor that makes them easily recognizable from other beetles.
And that’s a visible snout or beak on their mouth.
Rice weevils have developed wing pads, and they’re strong fliers too. Rice weevils are the most common in rice.
Another weevil, which is the grain weevils, also infest rice. It’s of the same shape and size. But it’s black.
Grain weevils are more common in food processing facilities and granaries than in homes.
Later in the post, you’ll find out what causes rice weevil infestation in your kitchen and stored rice. But before that, let’s look at one more set of pantry pests that infest rice.
Flour Bugs In Rice
Flour bugs are a range of bugs and beetles that primarily infest flour of all types. But some of these bugs can also infest rice.
These flour bugs are flour beetles and drugstore beetles.
Flour beetles are reddish-brown beetles that grow up to 3/16 inches in size. They’ve got a flat elongated oval-shaped body, six legs, and a pair of three-segmented antennae. They have developed wings, and they can fly.
Drugstore beetles are brownish and grow up to 3.5 mm in size. Their body shape isn’t long, like the rice weevils and flour beetles.
Drugstore beetles’ bodies are cylindrical and roundish. They have a pair of antennae which also has three segments. Their heads are bending downwards when you notice them in your stored rice.
Grain Mites – Microscopic Bugs In Rice
Grain mites are tiny white bugs in rice that are invisible to the naked eye. These mites infest rice and stored grains in your home when the moisture levels are high.
It’s impossible to spot the grain mites when their numbers are low. When they multiply and spread, they appear as a layer of whitish dust on the rice grains.
Grain mites multiply rapidly. And when their numbers skyrocket, they spill over from the storage containers and appear as a layer of white dust on the pantry shelves.
Grain mites are common pantry pests in grocery stores and grain warehouses too.
Grain mites are easily detectable by touching the food packets that you’re buying. You’ll notice a sandy and dusty layer on the pack.
That layer is a collection of grain mites, also known as mites dust. And in kitchens, grain mites are tiny white bugs that appear as dust.
Indianmeal moths feed on the rice grains, and they also lay eggs on them.
These moths are common in enormous grain storehouses. They’re also active in the spring and summer months when they fly inside homes from the outdoors to lay their eggs on your stored food.
Indianmeal moths grow up to half inches in size. They’ve got a pair of wings.
The top half of the wings are gray, and the lower half is dusty bronze.
Indianmeal moths can enter homes in large numbers. And a single Indianmeal moth can lay up to 300-400 eggs.
The larvae of these moths are like white, legless worms with tiny brown head that appears as a dot.
The moth larvae will feed on the rice and leave their fecal deposits on the rice grains.
The larvae get into the pupae stage, where it wraps themselves into a webbing. After 2-14 days, an adult Indianmeal moth comes out of the cocoon.
And its first job after coming out is to mate and lay eggs.
Booklice In Rice
Booklice, also known as psocids mites, are tiny brownish-white bugs. They enter homes through the open windows when outdoor weather becomes too hot and dry. An adult booklouse’s size is between 2.5 mm – 5 mm.
They’re oval-shaped. And because of booklouse’s brownish color, they’re one of the bugs that look like bed bugs.
Booklice are tiny moisture bugs that feed on the molds and fungi that form on hard surfaces.
So, these tiny bugs can even target books and cardboard boxes if there are molds on them.
They enter homes and go to the dampest places in your house, like the bathroom, basement, kitchen, and laundry room.
Excessive water usage in these places causes mold. And molds can also catch your stored grains like rice.
Booklice will sneak inside the rice storage jars to feed on the molds that form on the individual rice grains because of excess moisture.
They’ll also lay eggs on the rice grains.
Booklice multiply fast under room temperature and humid conditions. That’s why booklice in rice is a common problem in homes in tropical and humid climates.
An adult female booklouse lays up to 100 eggs in her lifespan of 6 weeks.
These eggs take only 2-4 weeks to hatch. The booklice larvae turn into adults within 2-3 months.
As booklice are tiny, it’s hard to notice them when their numbers are small.
However, booklice become easily visible in your kitchen and in places like your bathroom when their numbers increase.
5 Factors That Cause Bugs In Rice And Rice Weevil Infestation
- Buying rice bags with rice bugs inside
- Excessive moisture in the kitchen
- Bad rice and grain storage practices
- Pantry pests in the kitchen
- Improper cleaning habits
All these factors play a significant role in causing bugs in rice and other foods in your kitchen pantry.
Infestation starts small. And failing to notice the early signs can lead to an overblown infestation that can cause damage to your stored rice and foods.
The bugs in rice, flour, and grains will make them stale and develop a stench and yellowish color.
Let’s dive into each reason that causes bugs in rice, flour, and other stored foods.
Buying Rice Bags With Rice Bugs Inside
All the rice and flour bugs can be present in the fresh packets you buy from the grocery stores.
These bugs can also be present in pet food packets.
Rice weevils and flour bugs have strong chewing mouthparts that they can use to cut through the original packaging of the food packets.
They’ll sneak inside through the holes they create on the food packets. And they’ll start to feed on the food and lay eggs.
And when you bring these food packets home and pour the rice and grains into your storage containers, you bring these bugs home.
That’s how a rice weevil problem and a pantry pest infestation begin.
You’ll find out how to check the food packets in our elimination and prevention section before buying them.
For now, let’s find out the other reason for bugs in rice and flour in your pantry.
Excessive Moisture In The Kitchen
It’s a big surprise to many homeowners when they realize that moisture attracts bugs in stored rice and foods.
Moisture and dampness in your kitchen aggravate the rice weevil problem in your kitchen pantry.
It’s because rice weevils love moisture. And their love for moisture draws the rice weevils to your bathroom when they invade homes from the outdoors.
Adult rice weevils in your kitchen will chew through the thin plastic containers and jars where you store rice.
They’ll sneak inside the containers and will start to feed on the rice grains.
The adult rice weevil will use its beak to create a hole in the rice grains. And it will suck out the nutrients from the individual grains.
Adult weevils will also use that hole on the grains to lay their eggs. The female rice weevil will lay the eggs and seal the hole with her saliva.
The worst part is that each female rice weevil can lay nearly 400 eggs in the grains they infest.
When the eggs hatch, the rice weevil larvae come out. And it starts to feed on the rice grains too.
They also turn into pupae, enclosing themselves in a cocoon for a few days till they emerge as adult rice weevils.
So, within a few months, you can have many rice weevils in your kitchen and home.
All the other rice bugs, including the maize weevils, flour bugs, and drugstore beetles, follow the same procedure.
The signs of damage in your rice, flour, and other stored foods are not visible when the bugs are in low numbers.
However, it doesn’t take much time for their numbers to increase. And when their numbers increase, they spill over from the food storage jars and show up in places like kitchen cupboards and countertops.
Bad Rice And Grain Storage Practices
Do you know that improper storage practices of your rice, flour, and other grains are an open invitation for the rice bugs and other kitchen bugs?
Yes, it is. If you’re using substandard storage containers and jars and not properly closing the grain jars’ lids, these bugs will sneak inside the storage.
Pantry Pests In The Kitchen
Another cause of bugs in rice, flour, and grains is that the pantry pests are already in your kitchen.
Weevils, beetles, and moths can fly. And they’re active starting from the late spring till early fall.
It’s during this period they mate and lay eggs too.
Light attracts these bugs too. So, they’ll fly inside your home through open doors and windows.
You might also notice them as tiny bugs near windows trying to make their way inside your home.
And once they’re inside your home, they’ll target your stored foods.
A female rice weevil can lay up to 400 eggs at a time. So, even a single adult weevil can cause an infestation in your kitchen.
Improper Cleaning Habits
Improper cleaning habits like leaving behind the grain deposits on the pantry shelves and kitchen cabinets and not removing the food stains from your kitchen sink and countertops attract bugs.
Pantry bugs will feast on these food spillovers. And it’s only a matter of time before they’ll sneak inside the grain storage containers in your kitchen.
How Do You Get Rid Of Bugs In Rice And Your Stored Grains
Cleaning your kitchen, storing your grains correctly, and checking the food packets before buying are keys to preventing and eliminating rice bugs.
It eliminates the chances of infestation and also ensures that you don’t attract these kitchen bugs.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting rid of rice and flour bugs.
Don’t Buy Dusty Grain Bugs And Grain Bags With Holes
Dust on the grain bags is a clear sign of grain mites. And holes on the bags indicate that rice weevils, grain beetles, flour bugs, or other food bugs must have made their way inside the grain bags.
All the grain bags and packets come from the food processing facility. The facilities always have these bugs.
As these bugs don’t bite people and they don’t cause any diseases, folks administering these facilities don’t take these bugs seriously.
So, check for the signs of the presence of these bugs while you buy the grain bags. If you find any of these signs, don’t buy them.
Always buy rice and grain bags without any small holes and dusty layers.
Check The Grains Before Keeping Them In Your Pantry
You unintentionally bring the flour bugs and rice weevils home in the grain bags you buy.
So, even if you’ve bought grain bags without small holes and dust, check the grains for flour bugs or rice weevils.
If there are any, you’ll notice them crawling on the grains. You might even notice their larvae in the form of grub crawling on the grains.
If you find any, either keep the grains in the freezer or under direct sunlight.
Either process will kill bugs in the grains.
You can also remove rice weevils and other grain beetles from the rice by washing the rice in a mixture of food-grade hydrogen peroxide.
After washing, keep the rice dry in the sun. Washing and drying will remove any rice weevils, bugs’ eggs, and even those bugs in rice that are in the larval stage.
Store Flour And Grains In Robust Airtight Containers And Jars
All flour and rice bugs can break into flimsy plastic containers and jars. They’ll use their strong chewing mouthparts to chew through the thin layer to access the grains.
So, use sturdy airtight containers to store flour, rice, maize, corn, dried beans, and other dry foods.
Use the same types of jars to store pet food because it’s also one of the food sources for rice weevils and many other pantry pests.
Do not leave behind the lid of these jars open or loose. That’ll make it easier for the bugs to sneak inside and damage your food.
Regularly Clean Your Kitchen And Kitchen Pantry
Regular and proper cleaning plays a vital role in getting rid of flour bugs and rice weevils in rice.
The grain spillovers on the kitchen pantry shelves, storage, and cabinets will draw the existing bugs in your kitchen to your stored food.
The food stains on your kitchen countertop are also food sources for many bugs, including ants and roaches.
So, ensure that there’s not a single grain of rice or flour in these places. All the containers are in their place without any spillovers.
Use white vinegar and water to clean the pantry shelves and countertops to remove food sources like stains and crumbs.
White vinegar cleans, and its acidic smell repels weevils like the adult rice weevil, granary weevil, and maize weevil from your kitchen.
Keep A Few Bay Leaves On The Kitchen Storage And Pantry Shelves
Bay leaves are natural repellents for flour bugs and rice bugs. Keeping them on the shelves will prevent bugs from getting on the pantry shelves.
Keep a few bay leaves near the flour jars, rice jars, and in the corners of the pantry shelves.
It’ll deter flour bugs, rice weevils, and many other adult insects from accessing the stored foods. It can also prevent a re-infestation.
Keep Yellow Sticky Traps In Your Kitchen
Sticky traps come in handy when it comes to preventing bugs in the kitchen. Rice moths, rice weevils, and most flour bugs are strong fliers.
And yellow color attracts them.
Keep a few yellow sticky traps in your kitchen, especially in your kitchen storage. The traps will draw those adult weevils and bugs who have made their way inside your home.
Keep the traps overnight. And dispose of the sticky traps with bugs stuck on them.
Install Window Screens To Prevent Rice Bugs From Flying Inside Your Home
Adult rice weevils, rice moths, drugstore beetles, granary weevils, and even Indianmeal moths are all capable fliers.
They’ve got developed wings. And these bugs are active during the spring and summer.
During these periods, these bugs that infest rice and grains enter homes from the outdoors to find their food sources and lay their eggs.
Light attracts them too. And they’ll fly inside your home through open doors and windows, chasing the light source.
It’ll be best to install window screens with fine mesh on your kitchen windows to stop these bugs from flying inside your home.
Adult rice weevils and Indianmeal moths have strong mouths capable of chewing. So, always choose window shields with robust mesh that these bugs can’t chew.
They can also crawl inside your kitchen through the gaps and cracks in the windows. So, if you see any cracks, seal them with a silicon-based sealant.
Silicon-based sealants are strong, waterproof, and durable; bugs can’t chew through them.
Is It Normal To Have Bugs In Rice?
Yes, it’s normal to have bugs in rice bags and packets that you buy. Storage facilities don’t do extensive pest control often to get rid of rice bugs like rice weevils.
It’s because rice weevils don’t cause any diseases, and they don’t bite.
So, chances are always high that these rice bugs and other weevils chew through the thin plastic bags and packets.
They’ll also lay eggs in the grains. And by the time when you buy the rice bags, the bugs might have reached the adult stage.
And when you bring those bags home, you bring the bugs home.
And rice bugs are quite widespread in regions with humid and tropical climates.
So, people living in tropical climates can face these rice bugs even if they regularly clean their kitchens.
Should You Throw Away Rice With Weevils?
No, you should never throw away rice with rice weevils on them. Rice weevils are small and harmless.
Just a bit of washing, freezing, and keeping the washed rice grains in the sun will remove the rice weevils, their larvae, and even their eggs.
And it’s also safe for humans to eat rice with rice weevils. So, it’ll be best not to throw away the infested foods and reduce food wastage.
Rice weevils are the most common rice bugs. But flour bugs, Indianmeal moths, booklice, and grain mites can also infest rice and many other stored food grains in your kitchen pantry.
This guide revealed what causes bugs in rice and what are their sources.
You don’t need professional pest control to eliminate these bugs. There’s a six-step guide to removing rice weevils and other rice bugs from your rice, baked goods, and other foods.
Rice, and many other grains, are the food sources for these rice bugs. And the source of these bugs is the rice packets and grain bags you buy from the grocery stores.
So, rice weevil infestation is common in many kitchen pantries.
You don’t need to throw away the infested foods. There are tips and hacks in this guide you can use to get rid of bugs in grains and rice.
Dr. Thomas Orbert, the Microbial Maestro, dances with the tiniest of creatures as an entomologist extraordinaire! With a PhD in entomology, his passion lies in unraveling the secret symphonies of insect-microbe interactions. From minuscule marvels to captivating complexities, Dr. Orbert unveils the hidden world of bugs, igniting curiosity one buzz at a time!