You decide to bake something one day and open the bag of flour and there are little brown things moving around in the flour. These are weevils the evil in your pantry. Yikes! What the heck have you done wrong that you’ve got a seemingly alien life form munching on your flour?
Actually, you’ve done nothing wrong. They’re not there because your kitchen isn’t constantly spotless. And don’t blame the kids for spilling something near the cupboard in which you store the flour. The bugs were there when you bought the flour. It’s just that they were eggs at the time.
Females lay eggs in the wheat kernel and the eggs sometimes survive the milling process. When they reach maturity or if they’re in a warm, humid environment, they’ll hatch. Then they eat and mate and eat some more. Weevils are voracious creatures.
These bugs don’t limit themselves to flour. Weevils are often discovered in rice, grains (including pasta, tortillas, and grits), cereals and even coffee. If you find them in these products it means they’ve wandered from the food originally infested and taken up residence in the other items. Even if you don’t see the bugs you may notice a sort of cobweb in your flour or other food. This is also a sign of infestation.
Weevils are masters at defeating packaging. The cardboard boxes that hold cereal and the thin paper that makes the bags of flour are no match for these creepy little magicians.
So what do you do if you find signs of weevils?
Clean the area in which you discovered the weevils. Remove all infested foods. Vacuum everything, including the edges of the floor. Wash everything, shelves, floor, doors, etc. with white vinegar.
Store your dry goods properly. Weevils laugh at paper bags and cardboard boxes. Keep dry goods in containers that seal tightly. I keep the flour I’m going to use within a few months in a large Rubbermaid® container. Because I tend to store a lot of flour and rice I also use food grade buckets with lids that seal. I drop an oxygen absorber in the buckets. You can also use a bay leaf. These buckets are available in 1, 3 1/2, and 5 gallon sizes. A good way to save space is to pour your dry goods (I put about 3 pounds of flour or rice) into a Mylar bag, drop in an oxygen absorber, and seal the bag with an iron. You can fit several bags in a 5 gallon bucket.
Freeze grains, flour, and rice for a week to kill the eggs. Do this with all newly purchased items that weevils devour.
Use tea tree oil on cotton balls in your pantry. This essential oil seems to drive most bugs, well, buggy. This will help prevent any future infestation.
Now for the really awful part; you have eaten weevil eggs. Take a deep breath. It’s okay. You’re not in any danger of becoming ill or dying. The heat from baking with flour or cooking rice has killed them. Even if you’ve consumed them in dry cereal you’re fine. Ingesting the eggs, while gross, is harmless. Eating fast food burgers is undoubtedly more risky.
Just take the steps outlined above and you won’t have to see weevils scurrying around your measuring cup the next time you start to make a loaf of bread.