What are weevils, and how did they get into my food?

November 15, 2021

We know when you read the blog’s headline, you felt a little heebie-jeebies. Weevils summon up images of bugs in your food and pantry and make most homeowners feel unsanitary and unclean. Not true.

What are Weevils?

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Close up of adult rice weevils (Sitophilus oryzae) on rice grains

Weevils are a type of beetle with a longer snout. They are often referred to as flour bugs because that is where they are most frequently found. Weevils do not just eat pantry foods such as grains, cereal, nuts, and dried beans; they lay eggs inside the food. These eggs eventually hatch, and the larvae consume the food to support their growth. Yet, weevils are of no danger to humans or pets. Weevils, specifically grain weevils, are pretty industrious. According to thekitchn.com, the author states, Due to past insect problems, we’re diligent about storing all foods in glass jars or plastic zip-top bags. Unfortunately, grain weevils (Sitophilus granarius, also called granary weevils or wheat weevils) can chew through paper and plastic packaging. That’s how they got out of the bag of wheatberries we had bought and into the rest of the kitchen. But how did the weevils get there in the first place? You may want to skip this part if you’re squeamish, but we think it’s actually quite fascinating. A female weevil lays an egg inside a grain kernel. (She can do this up to 254 times!) The egg hatches and for one to five months depending on the season, the larva lives inside and feeds on the kernel as it grows. Upon reaching adulthood, the weevil emerges from the kernel to mate — and look for new grains to invade.

How did I get weevils in my food?

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Weevils can appear as early in the process like harvesting and manufacturing. They can chew through paper and plastic to feed and reproduce. However, once inside the packaging, they can live undetected for quite a while.

How long do weevils live?

The lifespan of a weevil—from egg to adult—can last up to about 45 days. Adult rice weevils can live as long as 6 months. In that time, a female weevil can produce as many as three hundred eggs. She perforates seeds or kernels, then seals them with a secretion. Her weevil larvae eat the seed or kernel from the inside out, leaving nothing but a husk. The grain weevil (also known as a wheat weevil) has nearly as long a lifespan. In short, the weevil larvae can destroy grains as they grow, mate, and lay their own eggs while safely inside a sealed bag of grains. according to bobvila.com.

How can I stop weevils from getting into my food and my home?

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Since they are challenging to see at first glance, the best defensive line is to inspect all packages before placing them in your shopping cart. Then, take a moment and check the store shelves; you may be surprised. Farmer’s markets also put products on open tables with produce when bugs can enter packages virtually unseen. We all bring visitors home when purchasing grains, oatmeal, flour, cereals, and birdseed. Buy only what you need in a size that you will use in time. Old boxes that have been hiding out in the back of your pantry or shelves make for perfect breeding grounds for weevils to go through the stages of life.

Now that I have weevils, how do I get rid of them?

Please inspect all items near the infected package, and when in doubt, throw it out! Next, open all packages that you wish to save and examine them thoroughly. We strongly suggest you purchase a glass or thick plastic container to store these foods. Once you have completed this process, clean the area and surrounding areas with hot soapy water. A wipe with white vinegar works wonders too. Do not use pesticides since it is so close to the food supply. Note: when you dispose of these packages contaminated with weevils, do not just throw them in the garbage can. Instead, dispose of the bags outside of your home. Sometimes when packages are opened, other visitors appear to feast on the food sources such as mice, cockroaches, and Indian Meal Moths.  If you see signs of other pests, a licensed pest control service like Accurate Pest Control can inspect your home and provide solutions for sealing entry points and safely eradicating unwanted visitors.

Accurate Pest Control can help.

Our technicians are trained on all aspects of pest and nuisance wildlife treatments and removal. So whether you have a bat in your attic or termites under your porch, our team will thoroughly inspect your home and offer solutions and treatment plans to return your home and family to a safe and healthy environment. Contact Stu for a free inspection.

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