Remember that time when you went to get a package of rice or noodles and it was full of weevils? Apart from the unpleasant feeling of seeing insects in the food and where is it stored, it is important to know why weevil bugs appear.
At the same time, you must consider how to eliminate them, are weevils harmful to your health, and if there is any way to prevent them. But first, let us see what weevils are.
What Are Weevils? (Weevil Characteristics)
Weevils belong to the “herbivorous coleoptera” family, the most important and diverse of the Curculionidae superfamily. So, technically, the weevil’s scientific name is Curculionidae, and they are part of one of the largest families of animals, with 5,489 genera and 86,100 species in the world.
Weevils are phytophagous insects, that is, they feed on plant foods. These types of insects have a long masticatory apparatus and antennae with club ends. Compared to other beetles, a weevil bug is very small. When you find them in your food, you can clearly see that their size is small. In fact, when mature, they only measure around 5-6 millimeters.
Another fact regarding their structure is the exoskeleton they have. Like all beetle species, weevils also have a hard shell that covers their abdomen.
Weevil larvae are small, soft, white, and have no legs. As they mature, they take on a dark brownish color.
Weevil Life Cycle
The weevil life cycle is between 4 to 5 months. Other sources mention lower (2 to 3 months) or longer life span for these creatures (8 to 10 months). We have another bad news too; the females can lay up to 400 eggs during their lifetime.
Where Are Weevils Found?
Now that you know what are weevils, do you know where they can be found? Since they prefer warm, moist environments, they are easily found in stored food products. However, some species live and breed among plants and their rolled-up leaves.
Are Weevils Harmful?
They are harmful pests for crops and many products in our homes. Therefore, you should not ignore their presence in the cupboard foods. That is, weevils do not harm humans or animals, but they cause extensive damage to stored goods.
Types of Weevil Bug
The main and important types of these bugs are not actually the ones that appear in cupboards and make our heads scratch. They include:
- Hazel weevil
- Banana weevil
- Cigar weevil
- Eucalyptus weevil
In the kitchen or pantry, the classic pests that usually appear are wheat and rice weevils, which appear in packages of rice and different products made with wheat flour. Other types of such insects include chili pepper, boll, and pine weevil.
How to Get Rid of Weevils?
After knowing what these insects are, what types they have, and some of their main characteristics, it is important to know how to get rid of weevils. Especially since they can appear at any time in the cupboard!
What to Do with Contaminated Food
Do not hesitate and throw the food away completely in a sealed bag. This is not only for your and your family’s food safety, but also to prevent other products from being invaded by weevils, which often happens and ends up ruining more than one food in the cupboard.
Can You Consume the Contaminated Food?
You see some weevils in flour or rice weevils, you remove them, and there seem to be no more left. Now can you use or eat it?
As mentioned, food products that have had these insects are usually not toxic for us. However, there are not a lot of studies done on this. Additionally, it is likely that the quality of the food decreases due to contamination, especially in the case of weevils in flour or products that need further cooking to be prepared.
What to Do with the Rest of the Food
Unfortunately, the pests may have affected other foods and still be hidden, as they reproduce through small weevil larvae. That is why it is recommended to place all pest-free food in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. The cold eliminates the larvae that could be in that food.
Clean Cupboard Regularly
It is a good idea to keep the pantry, cupboard, or under counter always clean. As mentioned earlier, weevil bug usually appears in humid areas.
So, thorough cleaning on a regular basis helps you ensure that everything is nice and dry, which is one of the main prevention methods for rice weevil and other types.
Package and Store Food Correctly
Although many believe that weevils in flour or other products appear because the package has been opened, this is not always the case.
Most of the time, these pests appear in food because there are already larvae in it that did not reproduce previously. This is the reason why they often appear even inside packages of rice, wheat, etc. that have never been opened.
If there are weevil bugs in an open package, they can “infect” others. So, it is recommended to keep the food in hermetically sealed containers. It does not matter if you go with jars, plastic containers, and other options, just make sure that the air cannot exit nor enter. But jars are profanely the best option.
Although it seems obvious, not all people do it. Many open a bag, be it beans or rice and leave it open for weeks. As mentioned above, if there is humidity, weevil bugs are more likely to appear.
Preventing Weevil in Flour, Rice, etc.
Harvesting, cleaning, drying, shelling, and freezing must be done quickly since all the insects that attack stored grains are characterized by their quick reproduction.
Subsequently, it is necessary to store the grains in a suitable, fresh, and hygienic place. Insects can be present in the pantry and the worst part is that they are often difficult to get rid of.
Rice bought at the supermarket may look clean, yet it may be infested with rice weevil larvae that cannot be seen with the naked eye until they hatch, that is until they transform into mature insects.
If you found any insects, check all the products stored nearby, as the spread of the pest is very rapid and sometimes unavoidable. You can also place grains in water, let them rest, and find floating weevil bugs on the surface after a few hours.
Hopefully, this info and tips help you get rid of these pests and prevent them. Do you have any experience with weevils in flour or rice bugs? Let us know in the comments.