Despite your best efforts to keep your house sparkling clean and bug-free, it doesn’t always work. Even with the best cleaning tips and top-tested cleaning products, pesky weevils can still make their way into your home, more specifically in your kitchen pantry or where you keep dry goods such as flour or rice. While weevils aren’t necessarily dangerous or harmful to humans or pets, they are a nuisance. Unfortunately, by the time you spot them, there’s already an infestation — which means you’ll want to get rid of them ASAP.
To learn more about weevils, how to get rid of these unwelcome visitors quickly and prevent them from coming in, we teamed up with urban entomology expert, Changlu Wang, Ph.D., of Rutgers University, who focuses on biology, ecology and the management of urban pests. Follow our guide below for everything you need to know on how to get rid of weevils.
What are weevils and how do they get inside the house?
A weevil is part of the beetle family and they are tiny bugs that are practically invisible to the naked eye until fully grown. There are various types of weevils, and the kind that invades your pantry feed on dry goods such as grains, rice, beans, cereals, seeds, nuts and more.
According to Wang, they can fly into your home or come in through contaminated food. Weevils can also lay their eggs inside dry goods like grains, rice, beans, etc., which means it’s possible to buy food at the store that already has weevils in the bag.
While you should inspect each bag of food before you buy it for open or torn packaging, it’s nearly impossible to spot the eggs or bugs until they are fully grown and have become a problem.
You’ll know you have weevils if you spot tiny brown bugs in your dry goods or around the food containers. Weevils are especially easy to spot in light-colored foods like rice and light-colored grains. Other signs you may have weevils are “damaged packages or fine dust inside or outside of food containers,” Wang says.
How to get rid of weevils
There’s no need to panic if you spot weevils inside your pantry as they’re generally harmless, but you’ll want to get rid of them quickly. Wang states that while weevils typically just damage food, some people may experience an allergic reaction when exposed to a large number of beetles.
It’s best to try to prevent weevils in the first place, but even with precautions, it may not be entirely possible to prevent them altogether. While getting rid of weevils isn’t hard, it can be time-consuming and tedious. Here’s what you need to do:
- “Throw away any infested food,” advises Wang. If you suspect any opened or unopened packages that might have or had weevils, it’s best to get rid of them. Be sure to check nearby containers as well even if they haven’t been opened. Weevils can chew through cardboard and plastic, which means they can also get into unopened packages of food.
- Get rid of excess food packaging such as cardboard boxes if the food is in an airtight bag that hasn’t been contaminated. Weevils can hide in packaging and re-emerge later.
- “If trying to salvage food, put items in the freezer for a few days or spread the food under the hot summer sun, if suitable, and then store them in a sealed container,” recommends Wang. If you’re unsure whether it can be salvaged, it’s best to dispose of the item.
- After getting rid of the affected foods, you’ll want to deep clean your pantry. Take everything out of the pantry and thoroughly vacuum the shelves, including the cracks and crevices where weevils may hide. You’ll want to dispose of the vacuum bag or dump the vacuum contents outside and clean and disinfect it before bringing it back in.
- Wipe the shelves with hot soapy water or a disinfecting spray then wipe again with white vinegar, which is known to kill weevils.
- Clean any unaffected items such as cans or containers before returning them to the pantry.
How to prevent weevils from coming inside
- Inspect dry goods before purchasing for open or torn packaging.
- Freeze grains or dry goods for a minimum of four days to kill any larvae or eggs.
- Store food in tightly sealed containers. “These containers can be glass or metal with tight lids that are bug-proof,” says Wang.
- Buy dry goods in smaller quantities if possible, to prevent storing them for too long. Wang also suggests getting rid of old food.
- Regularly clean the pantry, clean up spills immediately and inspect pantry and dry goods for any signs of weevils.
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