Keep Weevils at Bay (or Why I Put Dirt in My Cupboard)

It was a beautiful morning. I was crossing things off the to-do list with delightful speed. I pulled out the bucket of oatmeal to whip up a huge batch of homemade granola. As I set the lid down, I noticed a bug.

It must have been sitting right on the rim of the bucket, I thought.

I looked in the bucket again. There was another bug. Hmmm, that’s odd, I thought. It must have slid inside when I opened it. 

And then the awful truth, which I was trying desperately to avoid, sank in. The bugs weren’t from the outside of the bucket. They were crawling out of it. And it wasn’t just one or two.

As I learned to my dismay, weevils can make their way into your cupboard from a bag of flour! Major yuck! Be proactive and protect your food with diatomaceous earth.

 Thank goodness this was not my pantry. It was disgusting, but nowhere near this bad. (photo credit)

Tiny black bugs infested the bucket of oatmeal. In dismay, I turned to the internet to try to figure out what the disgusting little critters were… and how to get rid of them.

The identification was easy: weevils. Getting rid of them was a much more difficult task.

Opinions on the gravity of the situation varied from “OH MY GOODNESS! I saw a weevil in my crackers and threw EVERYTHING in the pantry in the dumpster, bleached all surfaces in the kitchen and have an exterminator on the way,” to “No big deal! It’s just a bit of protein. Besides, you’ve almost certainly eaten some without knowing it.”

The first position seemed rather extreme, but (as all guests we’ve hosted recently will be relieved to know) I’d much prefer serving my family other sources of protein.

So, what to do if you find a weevil in your oatmeal?

Natural Kitchen Pest Control

First, don’t panic.

As disgusting as it sounds, you’ve probably eaten a fair number of weevils without knowing it and survived. Grain weevils lay their eggs in, you guessed it, grain. Given the right conditions, the eggs hatch and the weevils multiply. Chances are, the weevil larva entered your home in food you bought.

Second, survey the damage.

As I feared, it wasn’t just the oatmeal that was infested. I completely cleared out the pantry and found weevils in flour, shelled nuts, chips, crackers and more. Thankfully, I’d already started storing many things in mason jars with lids tightly shut. These little stinkers can chew through cardboard and plastic, but not glass.

Properly dispose of infested food

(unless you hold to the “it’s just protein” camp): I gave bulk grains to a friend with chickens and carefully disposed of other infested food in the dumpster (putting it in the garbage can in the kitchen would just spread the problem!) Anything suspicious got tossed or frozen.

Clean thoroughly

Add tea tree essential oil to dish soap for additional cleaning power. If you need to vacuum out crevices, make sure you throw the vacuum bag in the dumpster.

Store food carefully

I love having a well-stocked pantry, but sure don’t want a repeat of that disaster! Rice and other grains go straight to the freezer for a week to kill any larva that might have been present in the store. Things like Saltine crackers that we don’t eat often but keep on hand in case we get sick either get stored in mason jars or in the freezer.

After tossing about $150 worth of food and cleaning like crazy, I thought the pantry was weevil-free. Guess what I found a few days later crawling in the pantry? Yep! Another weevil.

Did you know that you can carry weevils home in a bag of flour or box of cereal? Keep your cupboards safe from infestation with diatomaceous earth!

Food-grade diatomaceous Earth from the Bulk Herb Store 

Spread diatomaceous earth in the crevices

Clearly we needed something to kill off the rest of the weevils, but I didn’t want to use anything toxic in the pantry. Diatomaceous earth to the rescue! (Thanks Mom!) Diatomaceous earth, or fossil shell flour, comes from hard-shelled algae. Although it’s safe for mammals and earthworms to take internally, when weevils or other insect pests crawl through it, it dries out their exoskeletons and kills them. (Make sure to use the food-grade kind!)

I sprinkled it generously around the edges of each shelf, under any bags of chips that didn’t fit in the freezer, and inside the buckets of un-infested grains. “Dirt” pretty much covered all the crevices of my freshly-cleaned pantry. Then I sprinkled diatomaceous earth in all the cupboards that weren’t affected, just in case.

As added precaution, I taped bay leaves to bucket lids and put them on each shelf because they are traditionally reputed to discourage weevils.

It’s been about three months. I’ve seen a few dead weevils (who appeared to have trekked through the “dirt”) but NO MORE LIVING WEEVILS. Hurray!

Be proactive. Prevent a disgusting weevil infestation with diatomaceous earth... because weevils could be lurking in the bag of flour or box of cereal you just brought home!

Keep your cupboards weevil free

Even if you’ve never seen a weevil in your pantry, I highly recommended sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the edges of your pantry, just in case. Believe me, dealing with an infestation is not fun.

Anyone else had a pantry infestation? What did you do?

 [Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.]
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Comments

  1. says

    Diatomaceous earth also works for spiders. 🙂 Put some in those corners of the house where spiders like to dwell. Just don’t vacuum it up when you clean house. 😉

    • anna says

      Yes! I’m hoping to tame the spiders that seem to love our house (thankfully we’ve not seen any scary varieties yet…)

  2. says

    This was very good information, but gross! LOL (Gross because I get so squeamish thinking/reading about bugs). I’m glad I read through – especially to the comments about the spiders. We have spiders every year and I really don’t like that. I’m going to have to bookmark this and purchase some DE soon! Thanks for the information. 🙂

    • anna says

      Hopefully it was the nastiest post you’ll have to read in a long time, lol! I do wish I’d put some DE out *before* having to get rid of so much food though. I think it’s helping with out spiders…we had them pretty bad this year!

  3. says

    We have used DE, too, and found it effective when we lived on the farm. Since we don’t have a basement or crawl (we built an earth bed with radiant heat tubes in 30″ of pea gravel under our concrete slab) here, we have had almost zero bugs. I used to add it to water to drink, too, but haven’t don it in a while. Love you blog so much! Congratulations to your parents!! 30 years is terrific! Praise God for them 🙂
    Blessings to you and your family, Anna.

    • anna says

      How lovely to not have to battle bugs. I feel like they’re constantly challenging my creativity, lol. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your encouraging comment. <3 you!

  4. Sir Randall says

    Thanks for sharing. Found these suckers in a sealed jar of oatmeal weeks ago and still see them crawling around. Annoyed since I’ve never had bug problems living in Florida where they are abundant.

  5. Cindy says

    We have been dealing with these bugs for a number of months. I rarely see them in my kitchen now, thankfully, but I see quite a few in my dirty laundry piles and in the bedrooms where there are carpeted floors and harder to spot. I’m wondering if you think it would be a good idea to spread DE around the trim in the bedrooms?

    • anna says

      I would! It’s best to avoid putting it where babies/pets might crawl since it is irritating to the eyes, but I brushed DE into the cracks and crevices of our baseboards. You don’t really see it and it seemed to help! So sorry you’re having to deal with them–weevils are no fun!

  6. Darlene says

    Please make sure what you’re buying is labeled food grade. There is diatomaceous earth that is used in swimming pools, and it is not the same thing.

  7. Bekah says

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve been researching natural ways to get rid of these pesky little bugs and I’m so glad DE exists. I’m spreading it around my pantries now as we speak!

  8. Diane says

    When you purchase items that can harbor the little monsters like rolled oats or flour put said items in your freezer for 48 hours. That kills any eggs that’s in the package. Which is usually how they get in.

  9. Lisa says

    I’ve been battling these things for two months in my pantry. I’ve thrown so much food out. They are extremely bad in my kids bathroom, where there is no food. I have no idea why they would be attracted to their shower, floor and counter. I’ve never heard of DE but I will try and find it and try it everywhere. I’m so done with these. Every time I see one crawling I pick it up and flush it in hopes it drowns. Thanks for the info on DE. Where would I find DE?

    • anna says

      SO sorry Lisa! They’re awful! Since it will be around food and kids, I’d definitely get food grade. I know you can order it through the Bulk Herb Store and probably Amazon too.

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