You reach in the cabinet for a bag of flour and notice tiny holes in it. The flour looks grey and smells bad. You probably have a troop of flour beetles feasting inside. Red, sawtoothed, and confused flour beetles are different species in the same family. They can make a good living on just a few grains of flour, wheat, or other food. They can eat through plastic and paper bags, and some of them can chew through aluminum foil. Here's how you can keep them out of your pantry and cabinets.
What Are Flour Beetles?
Flour Beetles are a family of different species of insects that have very similar behavior. They are a major pest in homes, stores, and food-processing facilities. Red flour beetles and confused flour beetles look very similar, but come from Australia and southern Africa, respectively. Confused flour beetles prefer cooler climates, while red flour beetles can tolerate warmth. Other species include sawtoothed and merchant flour beetles.
What Do Flour Beetles Look Like?
Each species of flour beetles have subtle differences that are hard to spot without a magnifying glass. For practical purposes, here’s what to look for when identifying flour beetles:
- 6 legs
- 2 antennae
- Adults are approximately ⅛ inch long
- Flattened appearance with a shiny, reddish-brown color
- Each species has wings but only red flour beetles and merchant flour beetles can fly.
How to Tell if You Have Flour Beetles
If you suspect that you have flour beetles, here are the signs to watch for:
- Discolored grains or flours
- Tiny holes in storage bags
- An unpleasant odor near where you store food (including pet food)
- Visual confirmation of flour beetles
- Lumped food particles caused by larvae
- Larvae in the vicinity of your kitchen (these will look like creamy-white or yellowish worms)
Getting Rid of Flour Beetles
If flour beetles have found their way into your pantry, then the first step is to start throwing away food and deep cleaning. Here’s what to do:
- Dispose of any food that may have been contaminated.
- Take all remaining uncontaminated items out of your cabinets or pantry so you can deep clean the shelves.
- If you have shelf liner, throw it away and clean where it was, and then replace it.
- Don't forget to vacuum the cracks behind your molding. It only takes a few grains of food to attract a population of flour beetles.
- Once everything is clean and you’re ready to restock, store food in tightly sealed containers made of glass or hard plastic.
Even though you might be out some bags of flour, getting rid of flour beetles is a relatively easy task. Keeping the pantry tidy and creating a habit of storing grains in sealed containers will go a long way to keep them from coming back. For an added layer of protection, create a 365-day bug barrier with Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Barrier With Extended Reach Comfort Wand®.