There’s almost nothing as horrifying as pouring a bowl of cereal or reaching for the flour to bake some homemade goodies only to find them crawling with bugs. Talk about getting the heebie jeebies!
If you’re wondering how to get rid of flour bugs, then chances are you’ve just been through this very scenario. First and foremost, if you do have flour bugs, you’re not alone. These critters are very common in countless pantries throughout the United States and are certainly not an indication of poor cleanliness or expired foods.
In fact, flour bugs are often a result of buying flour, cereals, or other grains that are already infested. So, how do you get rid of flour bugs and keep your pantry free of them in the future? That’s what we’re here to find out today.
Keep reading to learn more about how to get rid of flour bugs and keep them from showing up in your pantry or cupboards again.
What Are flour bugs?
Flour bugs have four life stages from egg to adulthood.
Also known as weevils, pantry pests, flour weevils, flour beetles, or flour mites, flour bugs are small insects in the darkling beetle family. These pests, in the genera of Tribolium and Tribolium Castaneum, are known to infest a number of different pantry foods and have long been considered a serious problem throughout the United States.
There are two types of common flour beetle, including the confused flour beetle and the red flour beetle. Both are small beetles growing to be just between 3 to 4 millimeters in length. As adults, flour bugs are generally reddish brown in color. Some flour bugs can fly and are able to lay several eggs a day for months at a time. Woah!
But before you start looking into how to get rid of flour bugs, you must first try to understand their life cycle. Flour beetles go through four life stages including eggs, larvae, pupae, and adulthood.
Flour bug larvae are a bit longer than their adult counterparts, growing to be between 4 to 5 millimeters in length. These larvae take about seven weeks to go from egg to adulthood, and it is estimated that there can be up to five generations of flour bugs infesting a single household pantry or food source each year, under the right conditions.
But what are these right conditions? In order to grow up and thrive, flour beetles need warm environments between 71℉ and 104℉. Humidity does not need to be a factor in how well flour beetles survive, as they have been known to survive in grains with moisture levels as low as only 8%.
Though flour bugs are not physically dangerous to people or pets if ingested, their prolonged presence in foods can cause some health risks as they lead to an increased growth of mold.
Over time, flour bugs can also contribute to serious contamination, foul odors, food decay, and overall unease to people in homes, making it all the more important to know how to get rid of flour bugs as soon as you discover their presence.
Very large infestations can even cost you hundreds of dollars in food waste as flour bugs have been known to invade entire pantries and are often not resolved without the victim tossing all infested foods, cleaning thoroughly, and starting fresh.
Of course, this all sounds very concerning, but don’t panic yet. If you’re wondering how to get rid of flour bugs, we are here to help. But before we get into the variety of options you have for how to get rid of flour bugs, let’s first go over how to identify a flour bug infestation for certain.
How To Get Rid of Flour Bugs – Identifying An Infestation
One of the most common signs of a flour bug infestation is finding flour bugs in food.
Wondering how to get rid of flour bugs? You’re not alone.
Recently, I discovered a flour bug infestation in my own home when making powdered chocolate milk for my young nephew. The skins of the flour bug larvae floated to the surface upon mixing the drink. This was a telltale sign it was time to check my cupboards and pantry for more and figure out how to get rid of flour bugs quickly.
And yes, I ended up tossing a lot of food.
Flour bugs are one of the most common pests responsible for food waste in American households. As we mentioned above, larger infestations of flour bugs have the potential of costing you hundreds of dollars in waste. Worse yet, preventing a flour bug infestation can be difficult as these pests are often brought in unknowingly in already infested foods purchased at super markets.
With that being said, one of the most effective ways you can work on how to get rid of flour bugs and prevent a serious flour bug infestation is to stay vigilant and know what to look for.
Very early stages of flour bug infestations can be hard to recognize, especially because eggs are nearly impossible to see with the naked eye and often blend in with the grains or foods they are residing in. Once hatched, flour bugs tend to be the color of grains, often looking like individual grains of rice.
However, there are a few telltale signs you can look for to determine if you do indeed need to find out how to get rid of flour bugs.
These signs include:
- Finding Flour Bug Larvae In Food
- Shed Skins In Packaging
- Noticing Small Holes Chewed Through Packaging Like Cardboard or Plastic
- Finding Food Infested With Small Black Beetles or Indian Meal Moths
- Moldy Foods
- Foods Coated With Web-Like Material
- Pantry Foods With A Strange, Foul Odor
- Foods That Have Gone Prematurely Rancid, Stale, or Spoiled Despite Being Properly Stored
If you have noticed any of the above signs of flour bugs, your next immediate step should be to begin looking through other foods that could potentially be infested and then move on to figuring out how to get rid of flour bugs for good.
Though some flour bugs can fly, they tend to stick around their food source and will generally only spread as far as other pantry foods. However, they can and have been known to infest entire pantries, as we mentioned above, so we recommend checking all potential food sources that may have been infested.
Foods you should check first for signs of flour bugs include:
- Dried Pasta
- Dried Fruits
- Dried Pet Food
- Dried Peas
- Dried Beans
- And Other Grains
How To Get Rid Of Flour Bugs – Why Do You Have Flour Bugs In The First Place?
Flour bugs are one of the most common pests to infest household pantries.
Unlike many other pests who find their way into our houses through cracks, crevices, and other vulnerabilities, flour bugs tend to infest common food products we bring into our homes often before we have even purchased these products at all.
A flour beetle infestation typically begins in the factory, where a female flour bug will lay eggs in flour or other grains or food products before the product has been processed, packaged and distributed.
In many cases, flour bug eggs remain flour bug eggs, with some being consumed without the person actually realizing it. However, if the conditions are right, flour bug eggs will hatch and produce larvae which can quickly infiltrate our entire pantries.
So, what are flour bugs most likely to infest if they get into our homes?Flour bugs can be attracted to a number of pantry foods, including but not limited to:
- Dry Pet Food
- Dried Pasta
- And A Variety of Grains
Learn more about why flour bugs are attracted to your pantry and how to get rid of flour bugs in this video below.
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Have you properly identified a flour bug infestation in your home or pantry? If so, it’s time to take action immediately and learn how to get rid of flour bugs once and for all.
How To Get Rid Of flour bugs – The 5 Steps You Should Take
There are five basic steps you can take to get rid of flour bugs.
Because flour bugs are notorious for infesting pantry foods, the methods of removal for how to get rid of flour bugs may be different than typical pest removal processes. There are a few steps you can take for how to get rid of flour bugs.
Of course, when dealing with how to get rid of flour bugs or any type of pest that invades foods or areas in the home where food is stored or prepared, caution should be taken and methods should be used which are safe for people and pets who consume these foods.
Luckily, working on how to get rid of flour bugs rarely requires the use of chemical products like insecticides or pesticides and can generally be taken care of with routine cleaning and proper storage.
According to experts, there are five basic steps you should take in the midst of an infestation for how to get rid of flour bugs and keep them from returning that include:
- Identifying The Source Of Your Flour Bug Infestation
- Tossing All Foods Infested With Flour Bugs
- Cleaning Your Pantry and Cupboards Thoroughly
- Investing In Airtight Storage Containers For Pantry Foods
- Using Preventative Measures To Keep Flour Bugs From Returning
Let’s learn more about how to get rid of flour bugs by following the above steps.
Step 1 – Identify The Source
Inspect foods carefully to identify the source of your flour bug infestation.
Figuring out how to get rid of flour bugs can be tough, especially if you haven’t identified the source. If you simply toss any infested foods without identifying where the initial infestation has begun, you’ll find that you continuously deal with flour bugs, as these pests are able to lay several eggs a day for months at a time.
Once you have noticed signs of weevils in anything including cereal, flour, or chocolate milk powder mix (gag now and forever more), your next move should be to search your entire pantry, all your cupboards that store food, as well as pet food, food bowls, and dishes.
Pay special attention to the food items that flour bugs are most attracted to like cereals, grains, corn, flour, crackers, dried pasta and fruit, spices, herbs, oats, quinoa, chocolate, nuts, candy, dried peas and dried beans.
Step 2 – Toss All Infested Foods
Immediately toss any infested foods.
This second step for how to get rid of flour bugs is perhaps the hardest as it impacts your wallet, but it is a must when it comes to successfully managing a flour bug infestation.
You must toss that food.
Do not keep any food with any signs of flour bug activity, no matter how small. Remember, flour bug eggs are very tiny and masters of disguise, so any sign a flour bug has been in food should be taken seriously and that food should be thrown away. This is especially relevant if you notice live flour bugs in food.
If you do not notice signs of flour bugs in certain foods, put this food aside in a safe space for now and continue your search.
For food that needs to be discarded, toss it in a trash bag and take that bag out of your house once you are done with it to further remove any flour bugs from your kitchen.
Step 3 – Clean Your Pantry and Cupboards Thoroughly
Clean and vacuum cupboards and pantries carefully.
After you have checked your panty and cupboard, it is time to clean. Make sure pantries and cupboards are completely empty so you are able to clean and wipe them down thoroughly.
Begin by vacuuming your pantry and cupboards to pick up any loose food particles like grains, flour, cereal crumbs and more. This is a very important step you should not skip when it comes to how to get rid of flour bugs effectively.
Once you have finished vacuuming, dump the vacuum bag in your outside garbage bin. Then grab some wipes and cleaning essentials you trust.
While flour bugs are pretty gross, the good news is that chemicals, insecticides and professional help is not always necessary to eradicate a flour bug infestation. Instead, many household cleaners and ingredients can work well to keep them at bay once you have removed the infested food.
How To Get Rid Of Flour Bugs Using A Homemade White Vinegar Spray
Many people who are enthusiastic about organic household cleaners love using white vinegar. White vinegar is a healthy, safe, and effective tool you can use to clean your kitchen surfaces, cabinets, countertops, and refrigerator. It also helps repel and prevent flour bugs and other pests like ants, roaches, mice, and moths.
To make your own white vinegar spray for how to get rid of flour bugs, simply add one cup of white vinegar to one cup of water in a spray bottle and spray the solution into pantries and cabinets after they have been vacuumed. Let the solution sit for a few minutes and then wipe your shelves and cabinets dry.
You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the spray which will add a delightful smell and some more power to the repellent in order to keep flour bugs away.
How To Get Rid of Flour Bugs Using A Homemade Alcohol Cleaner Spray
If you want your homemade household cleaner to have more of a disinfectant property, you can always make a white vinegar spray that contains rubbing alcohol.
To do this, we suggest combining 1/4th of a cup of white vinegar and 1/4th of a cup of rubbing alcohol to 2 cups of water. Add the solution to a spray bottle and mix the concoction thoroughly before use.
Spray it in empty cupboards and pantry, let the solution sit for a few minutes just as with the vinegar spray, and then wipe your surfaces down with a clean towel or cloth until they are clean and dry.
How To Get Rid Of Flour Bugs With Essential Oils
Like many pests, flour bugs are repelled by the overwhelming scent of certain essential oils. Some of the best essential oils you can use for how to get rid of flour bugs include:
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Pine Needle Oil
- And Neem Oil
To make your own essential oil repellent spray, simply mix five to ten drops of the above essential oils of your choice into a spray bottle with two cups of water and mix it thoroughly. You can then lightly spray this solution in your empty cupboards and let it dry.
Step 4 – Invest In Air-Tight Containers For Food Storage
Store pantry foods in airtight glass or hard plastic containers.
Flour bugs may be small, but their mandibles allow for them to chew through a number of packaging types including paper, soft plastic and cardboard.
You may not be able to completely prevent flour bugs from getting back into your pantry, especially considering they are often brought in as eggs in newly purchased goods. That said, you can prevent a large flour bug infestation by ensuring you are storing other pantry foods properly.
The best types of storage containers for pantry foods include glass or hard plastic. These storage containers should also be airtight and securely closed when not in use.
Step 5 – Focus On Preventative Measures
Adding fresh bay leaves to flour and other foods while in storage can help prevent flour bugs from returning.
While preventing a future flour bug infestation can be difficult considering the way these pests generally enter our homes, there are steps you can take, as we mentioned above, to keep infestations at a minimum and protect other foods.
Use Hard Plastic or Glass Airtight Containers
We said this once and we’ll say it again – properly store your pantry foods in airtight, hard containers! This is very important because it will isolate future flour bugs you may accidentally bring into your home and stop an infestation in its tracks.
Remember, flour bugs stay close to their food sources but do travel within pantries and cupboards, especially if other food sources are readily available and easy to access. You can keep flour bug infestations at a minimum by ensuring other pantry foods are stored in hard plastic or glass containers which are airtight.
We also recommend transferring newly bought foods like flour, cereals, pastas, grains, and other goods that flour bugs are attracted to into hard plastic or glass airtight containers immediately after buying them before adding them to your pantry or cupboard.
Buy Small Packages Of Flour At A Time and Freeze It
Purchasing smaller amounts of flour can help decrease your chances of dealing with flour bugs. Furthermore, smaller flour packages are easier to store in freezers where, even if they are already infested with flour bug eggs, will keep these eggs from hatching and will therefore keep your flour good while preventing a future infestation.
Use Fresh Bay Leaves
This is perhaps one of our favorite methods you can use when it comes to how to get rid of flour bugs and keep them from returning. Simply purchase fresh bay leaves in your local grocery store produce section and place a few leaves in your flour canister. The smell can repel and prevent flour bugs.
Once you can no longer smell the bay leaves, replace them with new ones.
Set Up Pheromone Traps
Even after you have figured out how to get rid of flour bugs and have cleared and cleaned your pantry and cupboards, we still recommend setting up traps. There are some specific traps, which we will list below, that are aimed at targeting flour bugs, and these will help you keep an eye on any new infestations beginning to occur.
Keep your eyes open and check your food often. Be on the lookout for new signs of flour bug infestations and continuously clean cabinets, discard stale or spoiled goods, and routinely wipe down surfaces in your kitchens, cupboards and pantry using a cleaning agent or white vinegar spray.
If Flour Bugs Keep Returning, It May Be Time To Call A Professional
Most flour bug infestations are simple to get rid of if you take all the above steps. However, some very large flour bug infestations could be a sign of a larger pest problem in your home.
Furthermore, very large infestations can also cost you lots of money in food waste and even lead to health risks if you or a loved one or pet eats rancid or moldy food caused by a flour bug infestation.
If you are suffering with flour bugs and cannot seem to quell the problem on your own after following the above steps, we suggest contacting a professional.
Professional pest care experts generally charge around $100 to $500 depending on your region and the severity of your flour bug infestation. Once hired, a professional pest care expert should be able to help you identify the source of your flour bug problem and put a stop to the issue once and for all.
But before you contact a professional, remember that there are also products you can purchase and implement on your own as a do it yourself pest control method that can also work.
Our 5 Favorite Products For How To Get Rid Of Flour Bugs
There are a few great products we recommend for getting rid of and preventing flour bugs.
When working on how to get rid of flour bugs, household cleaners, cleaning products, vacuuming and sealing food are often the easiest and most effective treatments. However, there are some infestations of flour bugs that require more intensive treatments and may require the purchase of certain products.
Are you looking for the best products for how to get rid of flour bugs and keep them from returning? We have listed some of our favorite products as recommended by experts for you to take a look at below.
Pro Pest Pantry Moth & Beetle Trap
First on our list of products for how to get rid of flour bugs and monitor an infestation is this pheromone trap by Pro Pest. The above glue trap is safe to use in pantries and kitchens where food is stored and prepared and is specifically designed to capture pantry pests like weevils and flour bugs.
It is completely pesticide free and will allow you to keep an eye on pantry pests before, during, and after an infestation so you can monitor your progress.
We also like that these traps are small and cleverly designed to be placed inside tight spaces like pantries and food cupboards.
Pantry Pest Trap
Another trap we like for how to get rid of flour bugs and moninter an infestation are these pantry pest traps by Black Flag. They contain a pantry pest attractant that captures pantry moths, weevils, beetles, ants and other pests looking for an easy meal inside your pantry.
These traps are for indoor use and each order contains two traps. They are also made with a slim, folded design for easy, discrete placement in your pantry or cupboards.
Chef’s Path Airtight Food Storage Containers
If you are looking for hard plastic storage containers for your pantry foods, we would recommend you check out Chef’s Path storage containers. These clear, hard plastic storage containers are specifically designed to keep foods fresh and safe from flour bugs and other pests including roaches, mice, and ants.
We also like that the canisters include labels so you can easily identify which foods are which. This is not only a stylish way to protect your foods from flour bugs and other pests, but an effective way as well.
Large Food Storage Containers
We also like these airtight food storage containers that are made of hard plastic and designed to keep pests out while keeping food fresh. Since many types of foods like dry pet food can fall prey to pantry pests, it is important to also look into storage options for their foods as well.
These large containers can hold large amounts of foods like flour, cereal, and other bulk goods that may be difficult to store in packaging other than the packaging they came in.
LIke the above storage containers, these are also clear and include writing labels so you can easily identify which foods are which inside.
Aunt Fannie’s All Purpose Cleaning Vinegar
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If you don’t want to make your own cleaning vinegar for how to get rid of flour bugs, you can always purchase one. We like Aunt Fannie’s products because they are reliable and safe, and this cleaning vinegar even contains eucalyptus oil, which we know can help repel flour bugs.
The product is safe, effective, and is made with all food and plant-based ingredients so it is perfectly fine to use in kitchens, on surfaces, in pantries and in cupboards where food is stored and prepared.
And there you have it!
Are you feeling more confident about how to get rid of flour bugs? We hope so. Remember, while flour bugs are not dangerous to people or pets, they can be costly when it comes to food waste, so don’t hesitate to treat the problem as soon as you recognize there is one.
Best of luck and stay healthy!
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.