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By November 14, 2012 Read More →

Weevils: Learn to Love the Bugs – Or – do something About It

An article or so ago I focused on the Mealy Moth and how destructive it can be to the foods in your pantry.   I promised that I would continue helping you deal with the other creatures that lurk in our pantries and cupboards and consider all foods there to be their preparedness pantry for several generations.

 When it comes to bugs and foods, attitude is important.  In an emergency, itwon’t take long to decide who is going to survive – you or the weevil.  In some situations, you may not have a choice as to whether or not you can throw out infested foods and buy more.

Unlike the cockroach or mouse, the weevil is a clean bug. (Honest.) If it is raised in whole wheat, it turns brown; in whole wheat flour, it is beige; in white flour it is white.  (I just knew you would want to know that, especially if you had oatmeal and raisins planned for breakfast tomorrow.)  You can sift weevil out and eat the food anyway; or you can  ignore them altogether.  A little weevil never hurt anyone – that I know of.

And yes, I tease a lot, but some of you may live in a part of the country where bugs are a way of life, and you do learn to ignore them or sift them out.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, there have been several instances in my family’s life where that was not a choice.  In order to have that oatmeal, we learned that the bugs do float and we did not die from some horrendous, long named, awful disease.  That’s  just how it was  at the time.  Start now to figure out what you will do, and what your attitude will be,  should the time come to make the decision:  Is it going to be you or the bugs?

Here is one simple method of eliminating  bugs that are evident in your foods.  Simply heat-treat them   by spreading dried foods such as grains, beans, cereals or nuts evenly on a cookie sheet that has a turned up edge. (Do not attempt to heat treat dry milk or sugars).  Do not mound the product on the cookie sheet.  Place it in the oven at the lowest degree that the oven will register – 140 º, or 210 º, or 175º, whatever is the very lowest registered degree for a half  hour.  When the time is up, allow the foods to cool, then gently bounce or shake the tray, so that the grain settles and the weevil and hull rise to the top. Using a dry dish cloth, or other cloth, gently wipe across the top of the heat- treated product, holding or propping the sheet over the sink.

Some people recommend food-grade diatomaceous earth as a product to put in your foods.  It is finely crushed sea shells and will kill insects.  Before you choose to use it, investigate it further as to the pros and cons.

Minimize re-infestation of your foods by storing them in air tight containers.  Do not put them back into the  same container without thoroughly washing, rinsing and drying it.  That must include the lid, because sometimes the weevil hides in the threads of the lid, as well as the threads on the jar.  This also includes the lids of food-grade plastic buckets.  Yes, they are tenacious creatures.  (That is another good trivia point for you.)

If you are using the popular plastic food-grade, clean plastic buckets, there is no need for plastic bag liners!  Containers should be as air-tight as possible. No thickness of the plastic in bags, or liners is sufficient to stop hungry weevil, or mice for that matter.  They will chew right through it.  Plastic liners are an unnecessary expense.  The rule of thumb for storage is to use clean, food grade containers, no matter the size you choose.  If you are using a liner, hoping to protect the food from  residue or odor in the container, it doesn’t work. For example, it won’t take long for you or your family members to discover that you have put your flour in a container that once held dill pickles.  J  Use a clean container in the first place.  Never use containers that are not food grade or that have been used for non-food products!

Just your pantry pointer for the week: chocolate chips, either bulk or in their packages, store very well in the plastic buckets.  Make sure they are kept as dark and cool as possible.  It is very difficult to get out a 25 pound lump of chips if you have inadvertently allowed the said bucket to sit in the sun or next to the heater vent.  Chocolate when stored sometimes turns white.  It does not affect the flavor or cooking capabilities at all.

See, even when I talk about bugs, I can somehow work in the chocolate!!

So, have you decided yet?  Are you going to love the bugs and share your food  … Or?



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18 Comments on "Weevils: Learn to Love the Bugs – Or – do something About It"

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  1. There is another way to rid your dry goods of weevils, by freezing them at -23 C or a -9.5 F degrees for 24 hours. The trick I learned from an ex-miller is if you freeze the flour or grain, the existing weevils will die but the cysts will hatch a few days after the flour warms. This requires a refreeze a couple of days after the first. A CO2 pack (aka DRY ICE) will also kill the weevils and cysts. Just add the dry ice and seal it up for a while. The nice thing about these two methods is that it doesn’t expose your dry goods to any heat. 

    All plastics are permeable and slowly allow air to enter. Mylar, has a metallic layer the greatly reduces this exchange. While I would not use a plastic bucket liner, I do use Mylar when my plans are for storage of over two years. It protects my good from air and light and prevents rodents from smelling the contents. 

  2. Storage in mylar with oxygen absorbers will kill off the bugs – they need oxygen.  Also, using DE as the article suggests is a great way of doing it, if you’re going for mid-term storage and so are storing it in an environment with oxygen.  The biggest threat of DE is inhaling the dust, since that can cause silicosis; make sure you use a mask.

  3. Protein is protein i guess. Ive had worse and tasted worse.

  4. It will be, if it comes to it, a love/hate relationship. Hot sauce makes everything taste better, per the USMC LOL

  5. freeze them before you can see them :)

  6. my great grama said when they had rationing,her sugar got ants so she put a small bowl of sugar in a big shallow pan of water and flicked the ants into the water,but for weevils in flour id just use a flour sifter

  7. we put our 5lb. bags flour, oats, etc..in the freezer as soon as we bring them home from the store for at least a day, then seal out the air with a foodsaver bag. Haven’t had any weevils yet. Also place bay leaves in the cupboards to repel weevils and moths.

  8. I read it’s best to put it in the freezer for 2 weeks then store in air-tight container. It can take the full 2 weeks to kill any weevils present. They are present if when brought fresh from the store, just so small u can’t see them. Then they grow and u start seeing them. Atleast that’s what I read…..no expert by any means. Seems that buying the bleached flour would help as well. Thanks for the bay leaves tip!!

  9. I read it’s best to put it in the freezer for 2 weeks then store in air-tight container. It can take the full 2 weeks to kill any weevils present. They are present if when brought fresh from the store, just so small u can’t see them. Then they grow and u start seeing them. Atleast that’s what I read…..no expert by any means. Seems that buying the bleached flour would help as well. Thanks for the bay leaves tip!!

  10. Lourine Kent says:

    I am known on this site as OldOrPioneer

    Some of us oldtimers have learned a lot over the years past. Kitty litter is dicondrous earth,(mined right here in central OR). spread a bit on carpets a day before vacuuming, put some around in kitchen cabinets. This dust destroys beetles by getting under their shells and dries them out. Perhaps even pumice powder would work, it will kill rattle snakes or other scaled kritters.

    Back to weevils: The mormons store many grains, in huge silos, for many years. They use a small vial of formaldyhide corked and totally sealed in wax inside the silos. It works! ???

  11. Jim McClarin says:

    Weevils are not the only beetle grain pest.  Here are some others:
    Oryzaephilus mercator – Merchant Grain Beetle
    Oryzaephilus surinamensis – Sawtoothed Grain Beetle
    Cathartus quadricollis – Square-necked Grain Beetle
    Nausibius clavicornis
    Lasioderma serricorne – Cigarette Beetle
    Rhyzopertha dominica
    Latheticus oryzae – Longheaded Flour Beetle
    Cryptolestes ferrugineus – Rusty Grain Beetle
    Tribolium castaneum – Red Flour Beetle
    Thorictodes heydeni
    Tenebrio molitor – Yellow Mealworm
    Tenebrio obscurus – Dark Mealworm
    Typhaea stercorea – Hairy Fungus Beetle
    Symbiotes gibberosus  

  12. VetMike says:

    Interesting. I practiced Emergency Medicine for thirty years and never saw anyone die from eating a bug although many people were convinced they would. Even cockroach or two isn’t fatal. Sailors put up with mealy bugs in their hardtack and usually died of scurvy not a dreaded bug disease. POf course, convincing people that bugs aren’t necessarily going to kill them may prove difficult. At least until they are hungry.

  13. goofy says:

    I’ve heard you could protect against weevils by microwaving your grains before storing them. Has anyone had any experience with this?

    • Vetmike says:

      The only thing I’ve read is freezing the flour. Soem suggest as long as two weeks. I’ve not seen anything about microwaving. I can’t imagine that microwaving flour would hurt it but flour is explosive so that is a concern.