There are several different types of flour beetles with odd names, like the confused flour beetle, false black flour beetle, and others. They all do the same thing however, which is infesting your flour and other foods. Discovering these beetles in your pantry can make you despair and even feel helpless. You might wind up throwing several hundred dollars’ worth of food away and still not solve the problem.
Not only will you have to get rid of the infected foods, you need to find the source. It’s quite possible the flour was contaminated before you brought it home.
Getting rid of the beetles requires several different steps, disposal, finding the source, disinfection, and prevention of future infestations. This can be quite time consuming and exhausting so prepare yourself for a big job.
Disposal of Infested Foods
Search through all your food products that are not sealed airtight. This includes paper sacks, cardboard boxes, and any jars that do not seal well. You will need to check places outside of your food supply also; particularly pet food. Immediately take any infested products out of the house and dispose in the trash, preferably sealed in plastic trash bags.
Pasta, crackers, raisins, rice, boxed dinners, and bread can all become contaminated from infested flour. Do a thorough job of inspecting all your food. Remember that you will not be able to see the eggs so if the container is suspect, throw it out. After you have thrown out all the suspected food, it is time to clean the area.
Remove all food and dishes from the kitchen cabinets and pantries. Vacuum all food particles from all the crevices and shelving. Cleanse with a soapy water mix, or even a bleach water solution. Leave the cabinet doors open so that they can dry. Line the shelving with foil or paper before replacing food and dishes. Do not use the stick down type, as the glue is a food source for flour beetles and other insects. This might have to be repeated a couple of new times as old eggs continue to hatch.
Since we are talking about food storage, you are limited in the type of insecticide you can use to kill the flour beetles. A diatomaceous earth based solution is one of your better choices. Use in a pump sprayer to spray the cracks and crevices around the floor.
Finding the Source of Infestation
If you are lucky, you have gotten rid of the source of the infestation in the disposal step. If not, you are going to be re-infested. Some types of these adult beetles can fly, so the nest can be far away from the food supply. A warm humid environment helps flour beetles thrive, so start searching wherever these conditions are present. For example, the bathroom could even harbor a nest. These beetles are quite small and can get in behind paneling and ceiling tile.
Continue going through the house spaying the diatomaceous earth solution around the floors and sealing any cracks with silicone. Contact paper, wallpaper, glue-on paneling or panel strips all contain glue, a food source which could contain a nest. Remove access to food sources and your flour beetle problem should disappear.
Prevention is the key to stopping future infestations. A lot of flour is infested at the mills so you have to be careful when you buy. Check flour sacks for tiny holes, which could be an indication of flour beetles. Do not buy large quantities that will not be used in a short period of time. This also holds true for other items, including dry dog food packages, cereal boxes, spices, and anything that is not sealed air-tight.
After you get your products home, take them out of their package and store them in a good air-tight container. Freezing these items for 10-15 days should destroy any eggs or larvae that happen to be inside. Clean up any type of food spills, crumbs, and around the pet food dishes immediately.
Take dried pet food out of paper sacks and keep them stored in containers that seal tight. Tupperware type containers with lids that snap shut are excellent for flour, cereals, pastas, and pet food alike. It’s a little costly to invest in a lot of these containers, but it is a one-time cost.
If you have pet birds or feed wild ones, the bird seed can also be a source of food for flour beetles. Finding the food sources for these insects can be a real challenge and require some unorthodox thinking.
Tearing out paneling to get rid of a nest or trying to mix a safe insecticide might be too daunting for a lot of people. This is when it is time to call a professional exterminator. This is what they are trained to do. Do some checking and make sure you find a reputable one.
Remember, you can defeat your flour beetle problem. With the proper planning and attitude, you will be victorious.
- Be diligent when you go food shopping and transfer food from bad packaging to good.
- Clean up food spills immediately.
- Use natural repellents like bay leaves.
- Use pheromone traps to capture adults.
- Try to keep the temperature and humidity levels down.
- Empty and clean the cabinets once a week.
The cabinets with the food require the most attention. Make sure they remain dry and clean. The back and edges of the shelves are most susceptible for collecting food particles. Take extra care in cleaning here and you should remain free of future infestations.