-Flour beetles are a type of insect that can be found in flour. The two main types are confused flour beetles and Red Flour Beetle, but the most common catch-all term for them is “flour beetle.”
-Adult Flour beetles measure 1/8th of an inch long and appear reddish-brown in color. Flour beetles don’t like to eat or lay eggs in grain, but will readily eat and drop eggs in flour and cereal products.
-Both of these Flour Beetle species look nearly identical and in fact, that is why one is named the “Confused” Flour Beetle because of how often they can be mistaken with the red flour beetle.
-The way to best tell these two Flour Beetle species apart is by looking at their antennae (with a magnifying glass). The Red Flour Beetle antennae stops abruptly in a distinct, three-segmented club while the Confused Flour Beetle’s antennae gets gradually larger towards the tip and ends with a four-segmented club.
-While the red flour beetle adults are exceptional fliers, the confused flour beetle doesn’t fly at all. Both flour beetle species have shiny, reddish-brown colored bodies and are about the same size and shape.
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. They are one of the worst offenders of a pantry pest.
Not only will you have to get rid of the infected foods, but you also need to find the source. It’s quite possible the flour was contaminated before you brought it home.
Getting rid of the confused flour 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 of 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.
Use a vacuum to clean inside the areas where food goods are stored. Vacuum the corners, sides, top, and bottom of pantries, shelves, cabinets, and the areas where food goods are stored. Next, take a cloth soaked in soapy water and wash the inside of the cabinets, shelves, and pantries. When vacuuming is complete, toss out the bag or clean the canister with warm soapy water.
Cleanse with the 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.
Use a toothpick to clear out and clean the pegs where the screws are located, these areas are notorious for holding eggs. Next, if needed, use caulking to seal and close off any crack and crevices inside these areas to prevent the infestation from spreading.
Make sure all the cabinets, pantries, and shelves are completely empty and there are no food items inside before applying any professional products. Since we are talking about food storage, you are limited in the type of insecticide you can use to kill the confused 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 spraying 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. These airtight food containers are very useful.
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 your pet’s dishes immediately.
Take all pet food that is dry 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 as well as any food for pets. 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.
- Purchase less food at a time so you are not storing food for long periods of time. 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.