Brownish black insect in your bowl of food? You’ve got a pantry beetle problem! Don’t worry; here’s how to get rid of pantry beetles the easy way.
Imagine you are about to eat a bowl full of your favorite fried rice, and all of a sudden, you find a tiny beetle crawling around in it. Gross right?
Such situations can happen when your house is infested by pantry beetles. But what are these beetles? How can you identify them? And most importantly, how to get rid of them?
All of these questions will be answered in this article.
What Are Pantry Beetles?
Pantry beetles are a big family of beetles that infest food sources in homes and in commercial settings.
Most of them are reddish-brown to black in color, tiny in size, and can easily destroy entire batches of stored food items in a short period of time.
Pantry beetles are categorized into different types according to their feeding behavior. Here are a few of them:
These are the beetles that spend their entire larval stage inside a carved cavity in grains that they infest. Weevils are a great example of internal feeders.
These insects can be easily recognized by their long snouts with functional mouthparts attached to its tip. The granary weevils and rice weevils are two of the common ones.
As the name suggests, these beetles spend their entire life outside the damaged grains.
But unfortunately, these beetles are equally notorious when it comes to feeding and damaging food products.
These insects feed on the grains that have already been damaged by some other insects or are wet, moldy, and old.
The motive behind attacking damaged grains is to be able to consume fungus and mold growing on the grains. Mealworms and spider beetles are two great examples of this type.
These pantry beetles do not damage whole grains; they only feast on the broken grains that are already damaged by the top two types.
These beetles also consume processed grain products. Red flour beetles and sawtoothed grain beetles are two examples of scavengers.
Difference Between Pantry Beetles and Pantry Moths
Pantry beetles and pantry moths are both troublesome creatures for stored food grains, but in order to keep them away from the grains, you must learn to differentiate between the two.
Pantry moths can fly, while most pantry beetles crawl. Also, if you notice closely, the moths usually fly in a zig-zag route.
While the adults in both species can be easily identified, it is tough to differentiate between the larvae.
The moth larva has several legs near the abdomen area, while the beetle larvae have either three pairs of legs or are legless.
Ways To Control Pantry Beetles
To control the pantry beetles, you must keep an eye on the food that comes into your house.
Pantry beetles, like rice weevils, attack grains in the field before the harvest. After harvesting, the infected rice travels to storage houses, and from there, it gets to your nearby store.
When you buy the infected rice, the weevil makes its way to your home.
Therefore as new food comes into your house, you should ideally store it in the freezer for a while. This will kill the already present pests in the food.
You must also store food grains in airtight containers to the attack of these beetles. Putting a few bay leaves in airtight grain containers can also help.
Ways To Prevent Them
Simply killing these weevils is not enough; you must take adequate measures to make sure that they do not return to your house.
If you find weevils in any of your grain containers and it is heavily infested, get rid of the entire batch.
Once that is done, clean the container thoroughly with soap water and do the same for the container rack before storing new grains.
Another way to get rid of them is by heating the grains at around 140 degrees F for about 15 minutes.
Doing so will kill the weevils and other beetles present in them. Also, since these insects can reside in the crevices of cupboards and drawers, keep cleaning them regularly as well.
What To Do With Infested Food?
If you come across a few of these pantry bugs in your food grains, try to keep the batch open in sunlight for a while, this will help you to get rid of the beetles.
However, if the batch is heavily infested, get rid of the entire batch and clean the container and the surroundings, as mentioned in the above section.
Pantry Pest Traps (Pheromone Traps)
These are ideal for trapping different pantry pests like the Indian meal moth, confused flour beetle, and more.
Here the insects are attracted to the trap with the help of pheromones that attract them (using the same method the females use to attract the males).
The insects reach the pheromone source and get trapped by getting stuck on the sides of the trap. Once they are caught, you can easily get rid of them.
You should place these traps in the area where the infestation was previously noticed. Moreover, it is important to keep replacing the traps regularly so that you can catch as many bugs as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes pantry beetles?
Pantry beetles mostly enter homes via infested food sources that you purchase from the market. Therefore you must be extra careful with the food items that you bring home.
Don’t ever buy food items with signs of damage in the packaging. There is a high chance that they are infested.
How do I get rid of beetles permanently?
You can permanently get rid of beetles by using effective insect traps.
The pheromone trap is one effective tool that helps you to locate and eliminate pantry pests like Indianmeal moth, confused flour beetle, and more.
Once you have identified the area where these beetles live, use the rap to get rid of them. When that is done, clean the area thoroughly with soapy water.
How long does it take to get rid of pantry bugs?
You can get rid of pantry bugs in a short amount of time by either heating or freezing the infested grains for a while.
Doing so will kill the weevils present in the food source. If you are heating the food grain, make sure that you do so for around 15 minutes at around 140 degrees F temperature.
What are little beetles in my pantry?
The little beetles in your pantry are most probably pantry beetles. They are a big menace to stored grain foods and are highly capable of destroying them.
You need to take adequate measures to keep these insects away from your food grains. Storing the food grains in airtight containers is a good start.
The existence of pantry beetles in your stored food grains or even dry pet food is bad news. These bugs are capable of destroying good batches of grains like rice and more.
Since they mostly enter homes through the food that they buy from the market, you should be extremely careful about what you bring to your house.
If they have already entered your home, use the suggestions given in the article to get rid of them. Thank you for reading the article.
Pantry beetles are the scourge of kitchen cabinets and other places where food is stored all over the world. Many of our readers have struggled with them in the past.
Read on to find out more about real experiences and techniques used by our readers – hopefully, one of these methods might work for you as well!
Letter 1 – Pantry Beetles hitch a ride!!
I found your site today and have looked through it but couldn’t find anything that even remotely resembles the bugs I’m dealing with. I’m completely lost and desperate – please help! Here is my situation – I have bugs in my car! I live in an urban area of the hill country of central Texas. Several months ago (I’m thinking maybe in March?) I started noticing these bugs in my car. At first it was just a few, but they have become more plentiful. The bugs are a little larger than a flea, smaller than a tick. They are completely black. This is where I’m going to sound dumb – I’m not sure if they have wings or not. They have no visible wings, but I think they may lay against their body, if they do have them. I think I have seen a few of them fly, but only for a short stint. Most of them do not fly. I’m not sure if it’s possible that only some would have wings while the majority wouldn’t. They don’t move fast. I can pick them up with ease, they don’t run away. Lately I’ve also found their larvae. The larvae look like tiny meal worms. The picture of the beetle grub that you have on your website closely resembles this larvae, but these are much much smaller and a more "normal’ larvae color. I’m guessing that these bugs are some sort of beetle but I have no idea what type. Shortly before I started noticing them I found a lady bug in my car. A friend indicated that she had similar bugs in her house once and they turned out to be baby lady bugs, but I’m not really sure that she knows what she is talking about. The bugs are most abundant in the backseat but are also showing up on the floor boards, headliner, sun visors, etc. The bugs seemed to originate from the area where the back part of the back seat and the seat part of the back seat meet. My back seat doesn’t fold down so I have no way of getting in there to clean it out really well. I have tried vacuuming in this crevice many times but I can’t get rid of the bugs (although I have decreased their population). I’ve also tried spraying the area where they are most prevalent with bug spray. This also hasn’t been fruitful, I think in part due to the fact that I have no idea what I’m trying to kill. They seem to be attracted to "bread" type products like crackers (and crumbs) and they attach themselves to any fabric items that I leave in the car (jackets, sweaters, diaper bags, etc) but they seem to avoid my umbrella. I washed several items that had been in my car recently and found LIVING larvae still on the items after I removed them from the washing machine. I’m so confused and I have no idea what to do. I’ve searched the internet for information on these bugs but have come up empty. My next options are to bug-bomb my car or sell it. If you could help me figure out what I’m dealing with I’d really appreciate it. If you could give me some hints to get rid of them, I’d be forever grateful.
Thanks for your anticipated help with this desperate situation!
Infested in Texas
It does sound like you have pantry beetles munching on a stash of food under the seat. Since you are unable to clean up the problem, I think fumigation might be the answer. We don’t like to recommend that, but I can’t imagine what else to tell you.
Letter 2 – Pantry Beetles
bugs everywhere now
I’ve had these bugs at least a year. I thought they might die out with the winter but it was wishful thinking. They flock to my light fixtures in the kitchen and die there. They are all over my kitchen stove when I get up each morning . They are attracted to white surfaces. Now they are also in the bathroom, all over the bathtub, in the sink. Can you please tell me what these things are. They also get into the flour, cereals, herbs etc. Is there anything I can do to get rid of them? Thanks!
Keeping the pantry free of stored grain products and keeping your spices in tightly sealed containers should help you control your Pantry Beetles.
Letter 3 – Varied Carpet Beetle larva
Pantry Beetles? I have been finding these around the house occasionally. But today I found 5 in one unopened package and one in another unopened package of saltine crackers. There were some very tiny cracks at the corner of the packages where crackers contacted though much smaller than these bugs. Can you tell me what they are and if they could have came in the packages or if they may have entered through the tiny cracks. They range in size from less than 1/8″ to almost 1/4″. Thanks Merle Yes Merle, you have pantry beetles. It is possible to buy pre-infested food at the market, which is a good reason to check the expiration date. They will quickly spread to other stored foods in your pantry. Update: July 20, 2019 We just received a comment for the scientific name of this larva. It appears to be a Varied Carpet Beetle larva, Anthrenus verbasci, which is pictured on BugGuide.
Letter 4 – Unknown Pantry Beetle
Kitchen annoyance Location: Southwestern Ontario November 7, 2010 10:10 pm Hello, These bugs pop up every once in a while in my kitchen. I lived in a different house where we had a complete infestation of them. They were in the sugar, flour, SALT, really just everything. We had to throw it ALL out and completely bleached our kitchen and cupboards – and now keep EVERYTHING sealed. In our new place, I haven’t found them anywhere near the food. In fact, when I do find them, it’s only one at a time, and they are at the other end of the kitchen from where the food is stored. Could you tell me what type of bug I’m dealing with? It doesn’t really look like anything I’ve found information about on the internet… Signature: Kimbah Dear Kimbah, There are many different Pantry Pests from many different beetle families that infest stored foods. Though the antennae do not look right, your beetles look most like the Grain Beetles in the genus Oryzaephilus which are well represented on our site under Pantry Beetles as well as on BugGuide.