Eliminating Weevils from Your Home

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Home Improvement

Weevils are recognizable by their long snouts. Rizky Panuntun/Getty Images

Discovering bugs in your pantry is never a pleasant experience, especially when they are breeding and multiplying among your food products. Weevils belong to the Curculionidae family and are actually beetles that have unique features. “Weevils that invade food items are small, but their snouts are distinctively ‘beak-like’ and protrude from their heads,” explains David Lofquist, a regional technical training manager at Arrow Exterminators during an email interview. The weevil’s mouthparts are situated at the end of this characteristic snout.

Weevil size and appearance can differ considerably, with more than 3,000 species in North America alone. They vary in size from 0.10 inch (3 millimeters) to 0.25 inch (10 millimeters). However, if insects are present in bags of grains, beans, or seeds, then weevils are likely to be the cause.

“Bird seed, pet food, or wildlife feed containing seeds or corn are commonly infested items,” reveals Lofquist. “Often, the infestation starts in the garage or basement and then spreads to a pantry.” Typically, weevils are found in products that have been stored for six months or longer. Although adult beetles can be found feeding on flour, it is unlikely as they cannot use the flour for their life cycle. “Identification is crucial because flour beetles or other scavenging type pantry pests may be the issue [instead],” he adds.

How Do Weevils Invade Your Home?

Unfortunately, for those who like to keep their pantries bug-free, these pests enjoy infiltrating the area, but not in the way you might expect. While we previously mentioned that infestation can begin in the garage or basement, it is not the most common cause.

“These pests usually gain entry indoors through packaged foods or bulk products,” states Ben Hottel, technical services manager for Orkin, a pest-control service. Therefore, it is less likely for a weevil to fly into the pantry, which is a relief. Bringing them home from the store is a more common occurrence.

Once weevils have infiltrated the pantry, they can go unnoticed for some time. “Weevils lay eggs inside the kernels of grains or other starch products that are large enough for the larva to develop inside,” explains Hottel. “Because the larva develops inside the kernels of grains, weevils can remain hidden in the pantry for a long time.”

The weevil life cycle is fascinating, albeit disgusting (considering food products are involved). Female weevils lay eggs on the surface of a grain, usually corn, rice, wheat, beans, or peas. “When the larva hatches from the egg, it will crawl over the grain until it finds a suitable opening and then burrow into the middle of the grain,” explains Terminix entomologist Angela M. Tucker in an email. “Once inside the grain, the larva will feed on the inside, develop, and pupate (similar to a butterfly cocoon and not made of silk). The adult will emerge from the pupa stage, exit the grain, look for an adult of the opposite sex, and the process starts again.”

Do Weevils Pose a Threat?

The question begs: Are weevils hazardous to human health? Luckily, the answer is negative. According to Tucker, “Weevils are not known to carry any harmful bacteria that could cause sickness.” Even if you accidentally consume weevil eggs, feces, or shed skins, it poses no threat to your well-being. “The cooking process eliminates any risk of food poisoning, but most individuals prefer to discard any contaminated items,” Hottel advises.

Eliminating Weevils

The first step is to get rid of any dry pantry goods that the weevils have infested. Since the pupae, larvae, and eggs are microscopic and often concealed inside the grains, avoid sifting through and just discarding the adults. You will undoubtedly overlook some young weevils that are still growing, allowing the cycle to continue. Next, Lofquist recommends meticulously cleaning the pantry area and storing weevil-attracting foods in containers that are resistant to pests. He suggests using glass jars with secure lids.

Tucker warns against relying entirely on bug spray to exterminate weevils. “Some products are designed for use in cabinets. I wouldn’t recommend using a residual liquid application, as the adults can be manually removed, and the young weevils won’t be affected since they are stationary within the cabinet space,” she explains.

She also stresses the importance of examining product packaging for any indications of damage, such as holes, tears, or webbing. Consume your grain products as soon as possible, and store them in the refrigerator or freezer for optimal results.

Occasionally, weevils may extend their reign of terror beyond the pantry. Lofquist explains, “Weevils can live quite long in their adult form, so it’s common to see them wandering around the house for several months after you’ve taken the appropriate steps.” “A vacuum cleaner is the most effective way to remove these wandering adults,” he adds.

If the infestation persists, seek professional help. According to Hottel, “Consulting a pest control expert can give homeowners peace of mind and assurance. A technician can diagnose the type of weevil present and develop a customized treatment plan to eliminate weevils from the home.”

Now That’s Disgusting

Even though weevils prefer grains, they may also invade pasta, so be sure to store it in airtight containers.

FAQ

1. What are weevils and why are they a problem?

Weevils are small beetles that are commonly found in grains, nuts, and other food products. They can cause significant damage by feeding on the food and contaminating it with their feces. Their presence also makes the food unappetizing and unfit for consumption.

2. How do I know if I have weevils in my food?

You can identify weevils by their small, dark-colored bodies and long snouts. They are typically found in the food products they infest, such as flour, rice, and cereal. Look for small holes or tunnels in the food, as well as the presence of small, black or brown bugs.

3. How do weevils get into my food?

Weevils can enter your home through open doors and windows, or they may be present in the food products you purchase from the store. They can also be transported in packaging materials or on other items that have come into contact with infested food.

4. How can I prevent weevils from infesting my food?

To prevent weevils, store your food in airtight containers made of glass, metal, or hard plastic. Keep your pantry and kitchen clean and dry, and inspect any new food products before storing them. You may also want to freeze or heat-treat your grains and nuts before storing them to kill any weevil eggs or larvae that may be present.

5. How do I get rid of weevils in my pantry?

To get rid of weevils, start by removing all infested food products from your pantry. Vacuum the shelves and floors to remove any remaining bugs or debris. Then, wipe down the shelves with a solution of vinegar and water, and let them dry completely. Finally, store your food products in airtight containers to prevent any future infestations.

6. Can I use pesticides to get rid of weevils?

While pesticides may be effective at killing weevils, they can also be harmful to humans and pets. It is best to avoid using pesticides in your home, and instead focus on preventing infestations through proper food storage and hygiene.

7. What should I do if I find weevils in my pet’s food?

If you find weevils in your pet’s food, discard the contaminated food immediately. Inspect the rest of your pet’s food to ensure it is not infested, and store it in airtight containers to prevent future infestations.

8. Can weevils harm my health?

Weevils themselves are not harmful to humans, but their presence in food can lead to contamination and the growth of harmful bacteria. Eating contaminated food can cause food poisoning and other illnesses, so it is important to remove any infested food products immediately.

9. How often should I inspect my pantry for weevils?

You should inspect your pantry for weevils at least once a month, especially if you frequently purchase grains, nuts, and other food products that are prone to infestations. Regular cleaning and proper storage can help prevent weevils from taking over your pantry.

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