Header photo credit: Blue Specs Studio

Why, you may ask, would this little guy end up inside unopened packages of pasta and rice? If you’ve been hoarding from the shops (tsk tsk– stop that), you may have discovered that this unpleasant little creature loves to burrow its way through packaging to decimate stores of flour, rice and pasta.

What’s a weevil? Is it evil?

A weevil is a type of beetle, but unlike most beetles that live and feed on food items, weevils actually live and feed inside the food. The female chews her way into a grain kernel and deposits an egg inside, then seals up the hole, leaving the egg within the food. When the egg hatches, the baby weevil feeds on the grain until it is fully grown and then eats its way out. Lovely.

Weevils are dark coloured and have long snouts, making them much more menacing looking (we think) than ants, and they can live for up to eight months. There are actually a bunch of different types of weevil (rice weevils can fly!), and although not harmful to humans and non-toxic if ingested, they are all pesky if they get inside your pantry.

Weevil in rice

Photo credit: Ian Jacobs

How do we get weevils at home?

Well, they may have come inside the packaging, as mentioned above. Then they spawn further and further, continuing to eat their way through the bag or box of pasta, flour or rice until you notice them in horror. Or they may have caught the scent of your tasty bag of flour using their incredibly long and hideous noses (sorry, entomologists and general bug lovers out there – we’re sure there is great beauty in them when they’re not reproducing inside our dry goods), and here’s the clincher: they can chew through plastic to get inside their new homes filled with endless eating opportunities. They also thrive in warm conditions and mature more quickly under higher temperatures.

Jarred dry goods

Photo credit: Steve Lum

How do we get rid of weevils?

  • Wipe shelves with white vinegar
  • Dispose of garbage and vacuum bags containing weevils away from home
  • Regularly check your dry goods – it may take awhile to completely get rid of them
  • Store grains in thick plastic, sealed glass or metal containers
  • Regularly clean pantry shelves and pay particular attention to any cracks or crevices (if they aren’t already in your food when you’ve purchased it, weevils can enter buildings by crawling through openings around foundations, doors and windows)
  • When weevils are found indoors, remove them with a vacuum or broom and dustpan

Tips for future purchasing

  • Buy grains in small quantities and eat within a reasonable period of time
  • Small bags of black pepper placed around dry goods are said to repel weevils
  • Freeze dry goods for four days after purchasing. This will kill all the larvae and eggs if there are any inside the packaging. After that, you can store them in the usual way in tightly sealed glass, plastic or metal containers and rest easy…

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