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Home » Preserving Food

How To Get Rid of Weevils In The House

Submitted by on October 30, 2012 – 8:50 am 54 Comments
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Weevil Photo

The other day, I killed three homeschooling birds with one stone. Math, Science, and Character Building lessons were all taught in one unfortunate equation:

125 lbs of organic wheat + 4 months of procrastination = one billion weevils

It all started one day last week, when my three year old came to me with a tightly closed fist, obviously concealing some great prize. Grinning proudly, she looked up at me and exclaimed, “Look Mommy!” And she opened her grasp to reveal a palm-full of little black bugs, scattering in a mad-dash for freedom.

I looked closely, not recognizing what they were, then shrugged it off and told her to throw them outside. Honestly, it’s no big thing to find bugs in our house. We’ve had plenty of critters visit us this year; ladybugs, stinkbugs, ants, spiders, wheelbugs… yep, we get ‘em all. So to find another creepy crawly in the house was nothing out of the ordinary. I figured, as long as they didn’t hurt anybody they warranted no concern.

Ha.

The next day, Xia found a few more of those bugs. I found her playing with them in her bed when she was supposed to be napping. Later that evening she had a jar with even more to show me.

Still, I didn’t really give it any more thought other than, “Hmph, that’s strange. I wonder what those are…”

But on the third day, when Xia brought yet another jar crawling with little black unidentified bugs to me, I realized I might need to investigate into this a little further. Obviously, this was more than just a couple of bugs getting in.

“Xia,” I asked her after she proudly displayed her “friends”, “where are you finding these bugs?” Her bright eyes lit up with excitement as she ran to show me what seemed to be like hidden treasure to her.

“In there,” she grinned and pointed, “in the closet!”

Uh-oh. Her closet.

The closet where I had bags and bags of wheat stored.

Oh gosh. I hesitated, afraid of what I’d find.

After pausing for a moment, I opened the door. And there, easily spotted against the contrasting color of white bucket lids, were hundreds of tiny black bugs. As my eyes scanned the small space, I focused on more of them making their way up the walls, and the doorframe, and the door…

They were EVERYWHERE!

I quickly closed the door, knowing full well it wouldn’t keep them in. But still. Yikes.

Although I’d never seen one before, I had a pretty good guess what these critters might be. A quick google search confirmed what I already knew in my heart.

Weevils. Those little funny-nosed bugs that hatch out in bags of rice, beans, and grains, and destroy your food if you haven’t properly stored it.

Oh, wait, you mean you didn’t know there were bug eggs in your food? Oh yes my friends, if you have dry grains or beans, you can guarantee you’re eating bug eggs. Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. It’s just kinda creepy to think about. But if you leave those grains long enough, and haven’t taken some precautions to treat the food (more on that in a moment), you will have weevils hatching out in your pantry.

And that is exactly what happened.

I was right about the closet door not containing them. Upon closer examination, I found tons of weevils all around the perimeter of Xia’s room. In the corners of the baseboard, behind her bed and dresser, in the wooden chest full of blankets, and even escaping her bedroom and fleeing down the hallway. Toward the kitchen!

Great. I really should have investigated on Day One. Now they’ve got a lead.

how to get rid of weevils

Enlisting the children in the hunt, our first task was to collect as many escaping weevils as we could find and flush them down the toilet. The kids, of course, thought this was great fun, and made a game of who could find the most. I was grateful for their enthusiasm, and their keen eyesight!

We focused on the positives while we worked. At least they don’t sting, or bite, or fly.

One female weevil can lay up to about 250 eggs; we had to get every single weevil out of the house to avoid further infestation. Each and every item in Xia’s room had to be thoroughly examined and then removed if I was to find all of the bugs.

As you can imagine, this process took the good part of the day. Every single blanket in the chest, every piece of clothing, every toy, every everything had to be looked over, then taken to another room in the house.

When the room was clear of everything except the dresser and the bed frame, I hauled the vacuum in. With hose in hand, I readied myself to tackle the closet with a vengeance. The kids watched from behind as I forcefully sucked up every little black speck I could find. When all but the weevils-in-hiding were enjoying their new home in my vacuum canister, every single item in the closet had to be examined and removed.

I know. Fun times.

About nine hours into the project, I was finally ready to really tackle the issue. The bags of wheat, which I had totally put off storing, had been not-so-patiently waiting for me in two large cardboard barrels. They have a lovely, locking plastic lid which seals and gives the illusion of safe-keeping. And so, tucked nicely in my daughter’s closet, they had pretty much been forgotten about.

Well, Jada made the observation that one of these barrels’ lid was askew. “That’s how they’re getting out!” she determined. And indeed, she was right. I shuttered at the thought of what was going on in the other, still closed barrel. One disaster at a time.

how to get rid of weevils

I cautiously removed the lid from the opened barrel and Jada and I gasped in horror at… not what we saw (we were prepared for that)… at what we heard!

The sound, it was coming from the uppermost bag of wheat in the stack.

Crunching. Crackling. The sound of a million moving and munching insects inside the bag, destroying my grains. It was horrifyingly loud. Like Rice Krispies popping in milk. And the sound continued, even after I quickly covered it back over. How did we not hear this before?!

Jada and I looked at each other. Now what?! I wasn’t about to take that creepy crawly bag out of the barrel to remove it! I had to get the entire barrel outside before I attempted to remove the infested bag. Problem was, with five 25-pound bags of wheat inside of it, that barrel weighed more than I did! How was I to get it outside?

I remembered Jerry had a hand-truck out in his pickup. Just what I needed! I went and got it, and with a little heaving and hoeing, it was on the dolly and out the door in just a few minutes.

I wheeled the barrel to the waterstove. As much as I hated to do it, I was going to have to destroy that bag of wheat. And fire seemed like the best way to do it.

But first. Jada was DYING to see inside of the noisy sack. As freaky as it was, there was some driving curiosity which led both of us to have to know if it was as bad in there as our imaginations led us to believe.

As my scissors got closer to the crunching and crackling bag, I almost couldn’t do it. Did we really have to see what was in there?

Yes. For the sake of appeasing my daughter’s raging curiosity, I did.

how to get rid of weevils

And yes. It was as bad as I’d imagined. Lovely. Aren’t we glad we looked.

I donned leather work gloves, and quickly hoisted the bag up and tossed it into the open waterstove’s firebox. Wheat and weevils spilled out of the open bag, and I grabbed some tinder to start a fire with.

One bag down.

I looked into the barrel to find the other four bags of wheat covered in the crawling black bugs. I determined I had to open each one to know whether or not it was worth salvaging before just chucking them all. And that’s what I did.

I prayed that I wouldn’t have to learn this lesson too expensively.

And to my complete shock and delight, three of those bags had zero weevils in them, and one had minimal infestation. Saved!! Immediately, I washed four buckets and lids, dried them, lined them with mylar bags, filled them with the clean wheat, dropped a 2000cc oxygen absorber into each bag, sealed them with a hair straightening iron, and covered the buckets with lids.

I did this even with the one with a few weevils in it. The O2 absorbers will kill any living bugs, and will prevent eggs from hatching. I just marked the buckets to remind me to sift the wheat before using it.

DONE.

Thank goodness 100 lbs of wheat was spared!

With that out of the way, I turned my attention toward the other barrel in the closet. ANOTHER 125 lbs of organic wheat. I cringed at the thought of what I would find in there. Would they be infested, too? It took me a minute of struggling with the lid before I finally got it off.

Relief flooded my soul as I found no weevils inside. And again, I quickly got the wheat properly stored.

Nothing like a good ol’ bug infestation to kick you in the hind end with a dose of motivation!

Once the second barrel was removed from the closet, I worked well into the night vacuuming the weevils that kept coming out of the woodwork. I even had to pull the carpet up in the closet to hurry the process. Those little guys love to hide in the nooks and crannies of the molding, and only come out when they feel it is safe to do so.

We were blessed that not all of our 250 lbs of wheat was ruined!

After setting the living bag of wheat ablaze in the waterstove, it dawned on me that I should have fed it to the chickens instead. A smack-your-forehead kinda moment. Fortunately, the wheat didn’t easily ignite, and only the bag burned a bit. I’ve been scooping the grains out of the firebox and tossing them to the chickens, so it wasn’t a total loss.

What’s frustrating is that I KNEW BETTER! I knew weevils could hatch out in my wheat. I guess I just figured I had more time than just a few months. Maybe it depends upon the bag itself. I dunno. But take a tip from me- get it stored properly right away! If you don’t have oxygen absorbers, you can freeze your grains for several days and that will kill bug eggs as well.

It has been five days since the cleanup, and we’re still finding random weevils throughout the house.

Oh look! Xia just brought me two more. How lovely.

Whenever one is spotted on the floor, or wall, or countertop, we dutifully pick it up and drop it into the potty. Fortunately, their numbers are dwindling to one or two a day. We’re over the hump, it seems.

(I promise I don’t do stupid things just to have something to blog about.)

And that’s how to get rid of weevils. One stinking bug at a time.

 

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54 Comments »

  • Jen says:

    P.S. My original question was: do weevils get into tea bags? Anyone?

    • Jen,

      I’ve had tea bags stored in the cabinet for years and have never had weevils get into them. I’m not sure if they do sometimes, but I’ve never had that problem. The weevils that are coming from the flour and sugar you’ve stored in containers are probably hatching out from eggs already in the grain. Freezing your grains will help. Good luck!

  • Jen says:

    In my house I thought weevils were only getting into one cupboard, so I keep most grains and rice in the fridge. I tried putting flour and sugar into air-tight containers in the cupboard, but they got in. So I used my linen closet. That worked for a couple years, but they made it over there too. Buggers! My point being don’t get complacent when you think you’ve killed them, they are sneaky! VERY grateful for the freezing idea! Thank You!

  • Bipin, says:

    Very hard to get rid of weevils . .
    kindly advise me about biological control of weevils or weevils predators . .

  • Mr Cardinal says:

    Hi Kendra!

    Appreciate finding some good guidance on weevils.

    We just noticed weevils in our high-end bird seed that was stored on a shelf in the garage for three months and always sealed with a binder clip. Its been a decade or two since I’ve had a weevil problem.

    I scooped up a bit, only about 6 oz or so, into a white plastic cup. After a few seconds the weevils were quite evident among the seeds.

    I immediately double bagged the infested bag of seeds in a white 13 gal bag and placed it in a garbage can with a lid and put the can on the curb (today is trash day).

    Fortunately the container with the bugs was never inside the house. However, a cup of seeds was on the patio for several days and we had the sliding doors open on occasion. A few of these critters could have wandered inside to the kitchen about 15 feet away.

    We are placing everything (such as rice) into sealed plastic containers just in case, and I’m undertaking a full inspection of the pantry.

    Just added bird seed (to be stored in a sealed plastic can) and bay leaves to my shopping list.

    Cheers!

  • D says:

    About how long until you didn’t see any more of these little bugs? It’s been over 4 months and I am losing my mind!! I know they are harmless but they still make me cringe :)

  • D says:

    We have weevils in our basement. They started from corn hole bags. They escaped and we are finding them under the baseboards. Any ideas how to eliminate? Been going through this for months. Probably are finding about 20 a week now but still frustrating to vacuum these little creatures up everyday. Any advice much appreciated!

    Thanks!

  • Lisa says:

    Bay leaves never worked for me. Freezing is great, and I freeze as many things as can. Although, in the rush of life, this step is often skipped or forgotten. When it comes to bugs, I’m not one to balk at chemical interference. I heard about something that I have found works great. Animal flea collars! I get mine at the dollar store. Wear gloves and activate them according to the directions. Then cut them into 1-1 1/2″ sections, and scatter throughout your cabinets. I still find the occasional bugs, but they seen to stay confined to where specific package or shelf that the ‘host’ package lives. The effects of the collars wears off after a while, but not as fast as on animals. I replace mine about once a year. I swear by this! Hope this helps.

  • Karina says:

    I was trying to look for reviews about Weevil Away and came across various blogs, where “nicole schooper” commented with her identical message featured above. I really don’t know if the product she’s advertising is any good or not. Just saying that she has commented 47 times with the same message about Weevil Away. I too say “hmm…”. Too bad I can’t find any other reviews on the product or any other spray that might help repelling the buggers.

  • nicole schooper says:

    i had a weevil problem a while ago. I cleaned everything out and they went away for a while but they came back in a few weeks. I searched the web for solutions on how to get rid of them and came across a product called Weevil Away. They have these little adhesive sticky pads that have a natural/organic solution on them. They repel the weevils which sounded like a great idea to me. I’d rather repel them in the first place rather than wait for them to show up and then try to get rid of them. I stuck one in every one of my cupboards and hoped for the best. The smell is fantastic and it’s been almost a year and still no weevils. Love this stuff!

  • Jackie says:

    Oh I see it… diatamaceous earth

  • Jackie says:

    Vickie, jay jay didn’t say put bay leaves IN the food. He said put it in the pantry and food cabinets. I for one am gonna try it. It can’t hurt!

  • jayjay says:

    explain using the diatamaceous earth in flour to me please. Do you mix it in our does it go in sachets? So you leave it in the flour for cooking? I need details lol

    My freezers stay full of meats from the slaughter house, on sale bacons, bologna, hot dogs, etc. so I don’t have room for dry goods for days.
    When I buy in bulk, I buy a 5 gallon bucket, a couple tablespoons on the bottom, a couple in the center, and a couple on the top..lid hammered on.
    For 4 years, never a bug…yet.
    I do have bay leaf in all my kitchen cabinets.
    Oh, I got ants every spring for 4 years in this house—DE sprinkled under mats at all doorways, around baseboards, no ants–wouldn’t hurt to sprinkle DE in cabinets if no bay leaf.
    Hope this helps.

  • LaNae says:

    For years everything that I buy, cereals , pancake mix, flour, rice, beans, pasta of any kind go in the freezer as soon as I get home from the store. I have even started freezing potato chips when they are on sale. We live out in the country so a quick trip to town may not be possible when something is needed. Any dry goods goes directly into the freezer and remains until I need it.

  • Judi says:

    I was going to offer the bayleaf as well. I have always kept leaves in my pantry (Weevils seem to love Florida). My Momma taught me that when I was a kid – they will also leave if you put bay leaves in the closet.

  • Michelle says:

    Just wondering if anyone else uses dried bay leaves in their flour and other dried foods. Keeps weevils out. Of course it’s a good thing to take precautions first but for some reason weavils will stay away from anything that has dried bay leaves. Been using this for the last 35 years. No problems. Just suggesting a tried a true method of prevention. Story was amusing though. Good writing!

  • Yogesh says:

    Here in India, rise is a staple food. We store plenty of rice. My grandma mixes boric acid powder to the rice to keep these bugs away. We simply wash the rice before we steam it. And rice is generally stored in earthenware vessels/urns.

  • gypsy moon says:

    Put a bay leaf in all grains. It does keep the critters out and away. I store my stuff in plastic tupperware and have never had a problem because I use bay leaves.

  • GratefulPrepper says:

    I am so glad to learn about the freezing trick. I just lost a LOT of Rice because of those buggers.

    I found out by accident, through soaking the rice to feed the chickens, that the bugs (perhaps only the live ones) float to the top and eventually drown.

    We replaced the rice today and will definitely put it in the freezer, maybe for 2 weeks just to be safe before storing it.

    Thanks to everyone for the tips!

  • Bonnie says:

    I too have experiences this! And sadly there are bugs in alot of things, even pastas and cereal! Anything I bring home that is grain/rice based I freeze for a few weeks before I repackage to store. I even opened stored cake mix and found creepy crawleys, so they go in the freezer too! Remember also that food grade Diotomaceous Earth can be sprinkled in your grains to deal with this also. It is safe for people and animals, even if ingested. The one thing you need to watch is it is a fine powder, like flour and is hard on the respitory system so wear a mask if spreading it and causing a “dust cloud”. Works well for fleas too, cover critters, floors, kennels, carpets, mattresses, etc. Glad you didn’t lose much! Lessons like this tend to work well at keeping us more deligent though!

  • helen says:

    About the meal moths…I use diotomaceous earth, but I also dustbacillus thurengis around jar and bucket lids, and in the corners of cupboards where the little moths love to hide. BT is accepted on food crops as organic and only affects moths and butterflies. I use BT on my wool yarn and in the bags of fleece as well.

  • RevAllyson says:

    We got the dreaded pantry moths in a bag of corn we had. I had stored most of it in buckets, and the “mostly empty” bag fell behind the buckets and got forgotten. We started getting pantry moths and couldn’t figure out for *weeks* what it was. When I finally did find the bag, it was… moving. Yeah. It went in the compost bin. So gross! We re-packaged all our grain in 2lb heat sealed bags after that, then froze the bags for 72 hours each. I do NOT want those things back. Icky!!!

  • patricia says:

    explain using the diatamaceous earth in flour to me please. Do you mix it in our does it go in sachets? So you leave it in the flour for cooking? I need details lol

  • Sandi says:

    What grinder do you use, Kendra?

  • Mike says:

    I place all dry goods in deep freeze for 1-2 weeks before storage.I have never had a problem with bugs.

  • Sara says:

    I run a grain company- if youre not ready to store the grains in an oxygen-free enviornment yet, you can add diatomaceous earth (we use 10 lbs/ton) and it does a good job. It doesnt do anything against grain moths, but weevils hate it. Make sure the DE is food grade. Make SURE you keep the DE dry, its water soluble and doesnt work if you mix it with water.

  • leslie moore says:

    Hi i have some kind of critter that gets into my dry goods but it looks like a single maggot then comes out as a small white moth do you know what they are and how to get rid of them? thank you.

    • Leslie,

      Sounds like you have meal moths. Same kinda thing as weevils. They hatch out in your dried goods. They come from stuff like cereal, rice, flour, grains, pasta, nuts, and other dried grains/meals. You need to freeze these items for about three days before putting them into your pantry to avoid infestation. If you have bulk items, store them in jars or buckets with oxygen absorbers.

      If you already have an infestation, you can try traps to catch the moths, or use a good ol’ butterfly net ;) Sift your foods to remove any larvae, then freeze to avoid further eggs from hatching.

  • Vicki says:

    You don’t want to use bay leaves in your grains. USU extension studied it and said they are not effective at preventing bugs. I knew someone who inherited a bucket of flour with bay leaves in it, and the flour tasted so strongly of bay leaves that she couldn’t use it for anything but gravy. I also used bay leaves in some buckets of food once years ago, and the bay leaves actually introduced bugs into the grain. (I only got the bugs in the buckets with the bay leaves in them.) Bay leaves is just an old wives tale.

  • Katie says:

    Thats alotta wheat? I dont even use 5lbs of flour a yr. Diatomaceous Earth will get rid of those bugs. Its also all natural product. Killed the bed bugs we got from traveling this summer n we havent had stink bugs in our house since sprinkling it around the window sills n doorways. Kills all ectoskeleton critters!

    • Katie,

      Well, keep in mind, we’re a family of six, and I grind all of our wheat and make all of our bread and baked goods, so we go through a lot :) Plus, I always want to have an emergency supply on hand. Not to mention that I look at buying commodities like wheat and sugar in bulk as an investment. They’ll store almost indefinitely, and you KNOW the price is only going to go up! Why not stock up while it’s cheap? :)

  • april says:

    been there, done that…but I could not sive mine–but the chickens liked it.

  • jayjay says:

    Spray Diatomaceous Earth in your closet, around your base boards, etc.
    All gone in no time.
    Put D.E. in all your dry goods.
    Kills parasites–bugs!!
    Keep bay leaf in all your kitchen and pantry cabinets.

  • DesertDog says:

    I read in one of these very informative Prepper websites (can’t remember which one)that weevils can be stopped before they start by putting your flour in the selected container, add a whole bay leaf on top of the flour, then seal the container. I have not tried this myself yet, but I will be as I begin stocking beans, wheat and various flours.

  • carmen Bruno says:

    Wow, great that you can share and chalk to a good lesson to learn. I had something similar happen years ago except we had these larvae which turned into little flying insects in our oat groats bag. I was blessed to be able to return the bag and get a credit for it since these bugs were already in the bag before we opened it.

  • I have beans and flour and sugar in quart and half gallon jars with no oxygen absorbers. But, I put the beans and flour in the freezer first. Hopefully, all will be well. I figure that I could only lose it to bugs in quarts.

    Pantry moth lures only catch males. And, only one in eight males that flies near the traps actually goes in the trap. I am still clearing up pantry moths. I found birdseed full of it. So, the chickens will enjoy it.

  • LindaG says:

    Wow. Crazy. I would have thought the containers would have kept them safe.
    Thanks for this post. I have a lot to learn.
    Glad your loss was minimal!

  • Anonymous says:

    I should add that pantry moths can also be a problem with grains, breakfast cereal, tea bags, pastas. Don’t ask me how I know. Sigh.

    On the bright side, the pantry moth traps do work well. They have a phermone lure attached to a sticky trap. Makes one sick to see the number of moths that can end up in a pantry stuck to the trap. Better dead than alive.

    I think many of us have been guilty of procrastinating on such issues at some time or another. Thanks for the reminder to each of us…and so delightfully told too!

  • Amanda says:

    Well done,well done! What a save.

  • Oh girl, this reminds me so much of our flea situation. Nothing is quite as humbling as be overtaken and taught lessons by bugs. Thankful it didn’t turn out too bad :)

  • Jill says:

    Oh how awful! I nearly lost two bags of grass seed to mice but rescued it in time. But I do have lots of dried goods in the basement just sitting in bags. Sad part is, I’ve got a box of half-gallon glass jars sitting right next to them waiting to be filled. DUMB!

    Well, I think we all learned a lesson from your mistake today. I’m so glad you didn’t lose your entire stash!

    And with everything going on out East, it’s a double reminder not to dilly-dally in our prepping efforts!

  • Cris says:

    I now just how you feel, I had to toss 10lbs of corn meal the other day because I found it infested with weevils. Thankfully all of my wheat is in storage buckets already, so is my corn for grinding……..just not the already ground. Live and learn I guess, thank God it wasn’t all of your food storage!

  • Nicole says:

    Hahaha… been there! When I was a girl my mom kept her wheat in a rubbermaid container in the kitchen and had the same thing happen because the lid wasn’t airtight. I think I probably ate more than a few ground up in our flour (oops). Now I am much more cautious about keeping my wheat in airtight buckets, and its probably all due to the problems my mom had.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the hearty laugh! Sounds like you handled it very well

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