Do You Have Grain Beetles Hiding in Your Pantry?

Do You Have Grain Beetles Hiding in Your Pantry?

Imagine the bug you see to the left, only shrunk down to the size of an alfalfa seed. A tiny, reddish-brown alfalfa seed. Have you ever seen those on your countertops or in your cupboards? Occasionally you may notice them flying around, too.

They're called grain beetles, and they're quite common. From their name, you'd imagine that they like to live in containers of flour, cereal, or rice, and you'd be right. But we recently conquered an infestation (not that hard, actually) and we learned a few things, including a very surprising place they like to nest. You may want to start poking around your pantry when you read this.

We started noticing these little bugs a few months ago, but we thought they might be flying in from outside. We weren't worried about our food supply; after all, we keep our grains in zip-top bags and corral small ones in sealed plastic containers.

Eventually, though, the bugs seemed to multiply. We noticed them flying around the kitchen and spotted a few on the ceiling. Time to act. We asked the exterminator who stops by our building once a month to come over, and he immediately deduced that we had grain beetles. He said they like to nest in our flour and rice. He squirted a bit of insecticide in the corners of the cabinets and told us to clean them out and toss old food.

We didn't think we really had any old food; all of our bags of rice, oats, and flour seemed perfectly fine. Until we spotted an old, half-sealed box of Bisquick on the top shelf. Bullseye. It, along with an old box of cornstarch, were the party palaces for the grain beetles. So we threw them out, then removed everything from the cabinets and wiped them down with a soapy sponge.

So far, so good. We haven't seen any grain beetles since.

But hear this: We have a friend who had a grain beetle episode at the same time, and her exterminator immediately zoned in on her spices. He said old spices are an often overlooked spot where grain beetles like to flourish. They found a real zoo underneath her oregano, paprika, cumin... Yet another reason to toss old spices that have lost their zing.

Anyone else dealt with grain beetles in the past? Any tips?

Related: Repel Fruit Flies with Rue

(Image: University of Missouri)

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