Have you noticed bugs in rice? If so, you’re not alone. Bugs in rice, also known as rice weevils, are considered some of the most common and destructive pantry pets in the United States.
Likely originating from India, rice weevils are common now throughout most of the world. It can be difficult to manage a rice weevil infestation once it gets out of control, which is why it’s important to stay on top of these pests and know the proper steps to take when learning how to get rid of them.
So, if you have bugs in rice, don’t worry. We are here to help you sort this problem out. Let’s begin!
Bugs In Rice – What On Earth Is A Rice Weevil?
A rice weevil is a species of beetle that is known for infesting a variety of grains, most famously rice.
Scientific Name: Sitophilus Oryzae (Linne)
Length: 2 to 3.5 mm
What Is A Rice Weevil And How Did I Get Them?
Also known as grain beetles, rice weevils are small bugs commonly found in pantry rice and grains. They may look harmless, but they are responsible for thousands of dollars in food waste each year in the United States.
While their name suggests they only target rice, rice weevils are actually commonly found in any type of grain food. They are attracted to cereals, spices, rice, oats, wheat, macaroni, nuts, dried beans, barley, oats, corn, bird seed, dog food and more.
If you’ve eaten these bugs in rice, don’t worry. Rice weevils are not toxic to people or animals. However, they are nasty pests and can infest entire pantries if you’re not careful. Furthermore, they can cause food to go bad much more quickly.
These pests are not only problematic for pantry foods in American homes. They can also wreak havoc on farms and factories, eating their way through grains and contaminating foods as they are being packaged.
In fact, it’s most likely you got bugs in rice after buying a contaminated package of grains or rice from the grocery store.
Most rice weevils work by laying their eggs in rice. And while a female rice weevil only lays one egg in a single grain at a time, she is capable of laying up to 400 eggs in a single package.
This can lead to a massive infestation. Worse still, rice weevils have strong mandibles and are able to chew through soft plastics and cardboard. They will quickly escape the original packaging they arrived in and make their way to other products in your pantry, where they will continue to feast and breed.
For this reason, even if you see just a few bugs in rice or packaging, it’s best to throw out all improperly stored food and begin anew.
To understand more about how bugs in rice can quickly evolve to become a full blown rice weevil infestation, we must discuss their life stages.
Understanding The Life Stages Of A Rice Weevil
Rice weevils go through four life stages. Two of those stages are considered the most damaging.
Like most beetles, rice weevils go through four life stages before they reach adulthood. These stages include the egg stage, the larval stage, the pupa stage, and then the adult stage.
Of these four stages, it is the larval stage and adult stages that are most damaging to grains and pantry foods.
As we mentioned briefly above, most people contract bugs in rice by bringing in infested packages bought from local stores or markets.
Female rice weevils only lay about four eggs a day, but they can live for up to five months. In that time, a single pregnant female rice weevil can be responsible for an entire pantry infestation.
Once inside a package of rice or gains, a female rice weevil will go about burrowing small holes in the grains and laying a single egg in each. It takes only about three days for a rice weevil egg to hatch and for the larvae to emerge.
Once the larvae is hatched, it spends about 18 days in the grain it was born in and feasts before it is time to pupate. Six days after becoming a pupae, the adult rice weevil emerges from the grain.
Adult rice weevils have wings and are capable of flying, which makes it even easier for them to access certain foods and areas in your kitchen or pantry to infest.
Unfortunately, rice weevils are also incredibly small, which means it can be difficult to identify bugs in rice in the very early stages, when they are more easily controlled.
Luckily, we have a few tips you can follow to make sure you catch a rice weevil infestation early.
Identifying Bugs In Rice – Common Signs Of Rice Weevil Activity
Rice weevils are considered some of the most problematic grain infesting pests in the Southern United States.
According to an article published by the University of Florida IFAS Extension, bugs in rice, also known as rice weevils, are considered one of the most problematic pests in the Southern US.
That said, rice weevils can thrive almost anywhere in the US. No matter who you are or where you live in the United States, chances are you have some form of grain or food in your pantry that will be attractive to rice weevils, which means you need to be on the lookout.
In fact, some sources say if you have grains in your pantry, you are most certainly going to run into these pests at some point if you haven’t already.
That’s how common they are.
With that noted, you can see why it’s so important to take measures to identify bugs in rice early, before an infestation gets out of control.
The most common sign of bugs in rice or a rice weevil infestation is going to be the sighting of an adult rice weevil. While you may only see one or two rice weevils, you should regard them in much the same way you would regard a bed bug – where there is one there are more.
You are not likely to see any rice weevil eggs or larvae even if they are there, as rice weevil larvae and eggs are very small and typically hidden in the grains.
If you do find an adult rice weevil, your next step should be investigating the rest of your pantry foods. Look closely at packaging and check for small holes or tears or other adult rice weevils.
A good indication of a rice weevil infestation is if you find packaging with bits of the food or grains spilled out around it. This could be a sign that rice weevils have eaten through the packaging to either get in or get out.
While some sources insist that it’s very important to try and find the source of your rice weevil infestation, our experts agree that, regardless of if you find the source or not, you’ll still want to throw out any and all improperly stored grains or pantry foods that rice weevils could potentially infest, even if you don’t see signs of an infestation in these foods.
If you do have foods that you would prefer to salvage, inspect them thoroughly. If you don’t find adult rice weevils inside the packages, it’s important to still take measures to ensure an infestation does not repeat itself.
To kill any potential eggs or larvae in foods you wish to keep, it’s best to freeze these foods for at least four days before returning them to your pantry.
The foods that are most commonly affected by bugs in rice will include but are not limited to:
- Dried Beans
- Some Spices
- Pet Food
- And Bird Seed
Experts recommend tossing the above foods into a garbage bag and sealing it securely. Then remove that garbage bag from the home and toss it in a sealed outside bin. This will help reduce the chances of a rice weevil from escaping and getting back into your home to start a new infestation all over again.
The below video talks more about how to identify bugs in rice and goes into control methods you can use to get rid of them.
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How To Get Rid Of Bugs In Rice – Products We Recommend
To properly get rid of bugs in rice, you should try and use products that target them in all of their life stages.
Once you have located the source of the bugs in rice and cleaned out your pantry, your next focus should be on cleaning.
You’ll want to first ensure your pantry is completely empty before going through it with a fine toothed comb. Clean out even the smallest cracks and crevices of your pantry, including screw holes, hinged areas, and beneath drawer paper.
Then you’ll want to wipe your pantry down with water or a water and vinegar solution. Experts warn against using bleach, as this can make the pest products you’ll use to get rid of bugs in rice less effective.
Instead, combine water and vinegar (skip down for the recipe in our Home Remedies section), and wipe down your cabinets and pantry thoroughly.
Once you have wiped it down, we also recommend you go over it once more with a vacuum to get any remaining eggs, larvae, or grains out of your pantry.
Just as you did with the infested food, it’s important to toss the contents of the vacuum bag in a sealed garbage bin away from your home.
Next, you can spray down your cabinets using insecticides specified for use in kitchens. If you’re not sure where to find such a spray, we recommend the listed product below.
Hot Shot Kitchen Bug Killer
Any insecticide with the active ingredient pyrethrins is going to work effectively against pantry pests like bugs in rice. This product is designed to be used in kitchens and works against roaches, ants, flies, rice weevils, pantry moths and more.
It is also made with botanical insecticides, so it’s safer to use in kitchens and pantries, and other areas where foods are stored and prepared.
That said, this is still an insecticide and should not be sprayed directly on foods. Make sure your pantry is completely cleaned and wiped down before spraying this insecticide. Use this product only as instructed and store it out of reach of children.
Home Remedies And Natural Products To Get Rid Of Bugs In Rice
Using vinegar as a household cleaner can help repel and deter bugs in rice.
Getting rid of bugs in rice can be quite a process, and not everyone is a fan of using chemical insecticides in areas where food is prepared and stored. If you’re looking for some do it yourself pest control methods for how to get rid of rice weevils or would like to know how to get rid of these pests naturally, then this is the section for you.
Instead of using insecticides to get rid of bugs in rice, you can try the below home remedies and products.
Vinegar And Water Cleaning Solution
Vinegar will not only repel bugs in rice and kill them on contact, but it is also an excellent cleaning solution. White vinegar is perfectly safe to use in pantries and in kitchens, as it’s non-toxic to people and pets.
To make your own vinegar and water spray, you’ll need:
- ½ cup of white vinegar
- ½ cup of alcohol
- 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
- 1 spray bottle
Combine the above ingredients in your spray bottle and shake the bottle to ensure the solution is mixed. Then use it to spray down cabinets, pantries, and kitchen surfaces. Not only will this solution safely disinfect your kitchen, it can also repel and kill bugs in rice.
Soapy Water Cleaning Solution
If you’d prefer a more simple method to get rid of bugs in rice, you can simply add two cups of water to a spray bottle and drop about five to 10 drops of liquid dish soap inside. Shake the bottle until the water is sudsy, then spray it inside your pantry and wipe it down with a damp cloth.
Use Dry Cloves, Bay Leaves or Neem Leaves
Dry bay leaves, cloves and neem leaves work as a natural preventative for a number of pests, but they work especially well for getting rid of bugs in rice and keeping them from returning. Once you have wiped down your pantry, place a few dry leaves of your choice on the shelves near targeted foods to repel these pests in the future.
Store Garlic, Ginger or Turmeric With Grains To Keep Pests Away
If you’ve suffered with bugs in rice already, then you know how frustrating it can be. If you want to avoid dealing with this problem again, we recommend storing garlic, ginger or whole turmeric inside packages with grains, rice, and other foods these pests tend to target.
Doing so will ensure that any existing bugs hit the road and that new ones don’t try to move in.
Place A Matchbox In Your Pantry
Matchboxes contain sulfur, which is repelling to a number of pests, not just bugs in rice. Match boxes are small, inexpensive, and simple to slide into shelves. Of course, only use this method if you don’t have curious children around who might get their hands on these boxes, or at least remove the matches before storing them.
Freeze Your Foods To Get Rid Of Eggs and Larvae
No one is a fan of food waste, and if you want to salvage your foods, there is a way you can do this. As we previously mentioned, it’s best to first inspect the foods for any adult rice weevils. If you don’t see any, go ahead and stick the foods into your freezer and leave them there for at least four days.
Doing so will effectively kill any existing eggs or larvae in the grains.
Use Sunlight To Get Rid Of Adult Rice Weevils
If you do find adult rice weevils in your food and still want to try and salvage it, some sources recommend leaving the grains out for a few hours in the direct sunlight. Of course, using this method can also lead to other types of pest infestations in your food, however it can clear out the adult rice weevils.
This is because adult rice weevils prefer dark spaces, and will quickly evacuate in the direct sunlight. Once the adult rice weevils are gone, you can then put the product in the freezer for four days to kill any existing eggs or larvae before putting the product back into your pantry.
Along with using home remedies to get rid of and prevent bugs in rice, there are also some all natural products you can purchase that should work as well to help you manage this pest issue.
We have listed some of our favorite products for you to consider below.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Control Spray For Kitchens
Wondercide makes a variety of natural products for pest control, but we like their indoor pest control spray for kitchens and homes when it comes to dealing with bugs in rice. The above spray is made with all natural, plant-based ingredients like essential oils that are safe to use in areas where food is stored and prepared.
The spray is non-toxic and safe to use around children and pets as well. To use it most effectively against bugs in rice, be sure that your pantry is completely cleaned out and wiped down. Then spray this solution into your pantry and let it dry before putting food back inside.
Dr. Killigan’s Six Feet Under Non-Toxic Insect Spray
Another safe and non-toxic pest control spray we like is by Dr. Killigan’s. This spray is people and pet safe and is again designed to be sprayed in pantries and in kitchens. It is made with all natural ingredients including clove oil. It is free of any harsh or toxic chemicals that can be harmful if sprayed near your foods.
Other Products To Help Get Rid of Bugs In Rice
Though they are called rice weevils, these pests don’t only infiltrate rice.
Getting rid of and preventing bugs in rice is not only about ensuring you buy the right insecticides or cleaners. It’s also important to seal your foods properly once you have managed to get rid of the pests.
We also recommend investing in sticky traps to alert you to the pests should they reappear.
Chef’s Path Airtight Storage Containers
Airtight storage containers not only help protect your food from bugs in rice and grains, but they also look lovely. The above storage containers by Chef’s Path are designed to protect vulnerable foods while also helping to keep you shelves and pantries organized and clean.
We also like that the containers can be written on, which will help you to identify what food is in which container.
Each order comes with a set of seven containers. These containers are also made of BPA-free plastic, so they are safer to use in homes with children.
Black Flag Pantry Pest Traps
Using products specifically designed for pantry pests like the traps by Black Flag will not help you get rid of bugs in rice, but it can help you monitor an infestation and determine if you’ve successfully dealt with the problem.
What we like most about the above traps is that they are specifically designed to be used inside pantries and are safe to place in areas where food is stored and prepared. Not only will these sticky traps capture rice weevils, but they will also be able to alert you to other pests in your pantry like Indian meal moths.
Tips On Preventing Future Bugs In Rice
Storing your grains in airtight containers is an excellent way to keep rice weevils from spreading to other foods.
Getting rid of bugs in rice is a long, exhausting process. Once you’ve managed to go through with the entire process, you’ll surly never want to have to do it again.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to avoid bringing rice weevils back into your home, especially as most rice weevil infestations begin in products you have just purchased from the store.
However there are a few ways you can work to prevent these pests from spreading by following several of the tips below.
Investigate Packaging Before You Purchase It From The Store
If you can, take time to investigate any packaging you purchase. If the packaging is clear, look carefully for signs of adult rice weevils crawling around inside. If the packaging is cardboard or not clear, look carefully along the seams and edges for any signs of holes, rips, tears or openings that could have allowed rice weevils inside.
Buy Foods As You Need Them
Try and only buy foods as you need them. Allowing foods to sit for long periods of time inside your pantry increases the risk of those foods becoming infected by future bugs in rice. Not only will this save you time and stress, but it can also save you money by reducing the amount of foods you end up throwing away if they become infested.
Store Foods In Airtight Containers Made of Thick Plastic Or Glass
Storing food properly is one of the easiest ways you can prevent bugs in rice from spreading in your pantry. The best types of storage containers are made of glass or thick plastic and are airtight.
Sealing foods in these types of containers greatly reduces your chances of dealing with rice weevils spreading, which can save you time and money.
Keep Your Kitchen Tidy and Clean Your Pantry Often
Routinely clean out your pantry and toss old foods that have been sitting for a while or gone stale. Wipe down your pantry with a vinegar based cleaning solution even if you don’t notice signs of bugs in rice.
Doing this often can remove early stages of rice weevil infestations before you even know you have them.
Don’t Forget To Properly Store Pet Food And Bird Seed
Many people forget that pet food and bird seed are common causes of rice weevil infestations. If you can, store bird seed and pet food outside in a garage or storage bin. It’s also just as important to store pet food and bird seed in airtight containers to keep pests like rice weevils, ants, roaches and rodents at bay.
And remember, if you do consume food with rice weevils, don’t panic. These pests are not toxic or harmful. They’re mostly just gross.
Thanks for reading!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.