What Are Flour Bugs and Should I Be Worried About Accidentally Eating Them?
And how do you get rid of them?
You might call them flour bugs, flour beetles, flour weevils, or even flour mites—but there's one thing for certain. These pests are nasty. After you've had flour bugs invade your pantry once, you'll do everything in your power to prevent flour bugs from entering your home again. But what are flour bugs, exactly? It turns out that there are several different types of bugs that might invade and destroy your bags of flour and boxes of cereal, all of which are generally referred to as flour bugs or weevils. But the most common bugs that you'll find in your flour are technically beetles.
As their name suggests, flour beetles are attracted to flour, though experts at the pest-control company Orkin note that these bugs don't attack whole wheat flour. So you could just switch to using exclusively whole wheat flour if you're really committed to preventing flour bug infestations, but that seems unlikely and unrealistic.
Ultimately, it's hard to prevent an infestation of flour bugs because these bugs are everywhere, from the mill where the flour is made to your home. Plus, flour bugs are sneaky. "The female beetle deposits eggs into food or into crevices in food packages," explain the folks at Orkin. "The larvae hatch and make their way into the product to eat." And the eggs are so small that they're hard to see in the flour itself, and more often than not, you don't know you're using flour infested with flour bugs until you can actually see the little pests, wiggling around the bag.
But there are a few tried and true ways to prevent flour weevil infestations. The first is to store your flour correctly: in an air-tight, sealed container instead of a paper bag. That prevents bugs from laying eggs in your stash, but that doesn't help if the bugs infested the flour at the mill or grocery store. If you're really feeling strongly about it, you can freeze your flour for about a week before using it. That'll kill any bugs that might be living in it—and storing flour in the freezer is actually a good way to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
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If you can't successfully prevent flour weevils from getting into your pantry, you'll unfortunately have to dump everything. But hey, that's better than eating bugs.