Found 100S of TINY, Brown Bugs in the Bottom of My Pantry... HELP!

Updated on July 30, 2009
S.H. asks from Los Alamitos, CA
18 answers

While killing some ants the other day, I noticed something moving in the bottom of my pantry. There were 100s and 100s of these TINY, brownish/greyish bugs. I am not sure if they were going for the pasta or ? but they were mostly in the bottom shelf. I also found a LOT in the cardboard sleeve of some packaged can foods. (That was really weird... it's like they were feeding on the cardboard!) YUCK.

Anyways, totally gross. Threw away all the pasta, flour and sugar on the bottom shelf. Bought airtight packaging for cereals/snacks. Cleaned out ALL shelves... a few days later... I found like 6 more. And today, 6 more again... YUCK...

Does anyone know what this is???? I can't get rid of it if I don't know what it is. They are not weevils (YUCKYUCK!). They are so small, you can't even see legs. They look like a line less than a mm long. My search on the internet says they may be "Grain Mites." Did anyone else find these little critters in your shelves? What did you do???

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So What Happened?

I realize these bugs are not going for the food; it seems they are going for the wood/cupboard itself. The consensus seems to be that they are grain mites/book lice. GROSS! My hubby won't let me call the exterminator so I have to spray (lysol was recommended) and pick them up with masking tape. GROSS!

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A.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Sounds like weevils. Just spray a non-toxic bug spray and keep all items in airtight containers and they won't come back.

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D.L.

answers from Reno on

Hi, S.. Weevels are horrible and very hard to get rid of once you get them. A couple preventative things you can do: keep your grains/flour/pasta in metal shelves instead of wood (some live in certain types of wood); put your flour in the freezer for at least 24-48 hours (then it's ok to put on a shelf); put out bay leaves on the shelves around your food. The bugs don't like the smell of the leaves.
Good luck. :-)

1 mom found this helpful
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D.B.

answers from San Diego on

These are indeed pantry pests. They are really hard to get rid of but what you are doing sounds like you are taking the right steps. It's good that you threw out ALL the old pasta and grains, as that is what they go for. I've even seen them get into a factory sealed, never opened, bottle of Worcestershire sauce, though, so check everything in the pantry! Wipe down all the shelves with a cloth -- I used an antibacterial soap mixed with water to do that.

The stuff you are seeing is actually the fecal matter from the larvae -- it looks kind of like sawdust. The larvae themselves look like little worms -- I know -- gross.

Putting all the grains and flour in airtight Tupperware containers will help. Some also suggest putting as much as you can, like nuts, in the freezer to avoid them becoming infested. The most likely reason this came into your home is because something you bought already had an infestation -- putting them in the freezer will disrupt the life cycle.

They sell "Pantry Pest Trap"s at Home Depot -- these are sticky traps, nontoxic to humans because they work by emitting pheromones, that you can put in your pantry. They are mostly to assess the infestation -- not really a treatment because if you're finding lots of them in the trap, then you probably are still infested.

I had them in my glassware cupboard -- I have NO idea why they decided to settle in there! I did have the exterminator come and spray some really awful stuff and I did not want to use the cupboard and worried about our health with exposure to the chemicals. AND, the stuff still came back. Finally, the exterminator told me to take my canister vacuum (mine is a Euerka Mighty mite) and put on the brush attachment or crevice tool, and vacuum the walls and the area just below the ceiling -- the corners of the ceiling. I did that and it FINALLY got rid of them. I always worry about getting them again though, and they seem to be a problem in more humid areas.

Here is some more info -- and the most likely culprit is the Indian meal moth (see photo if you scroll down).

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/cereal-and-pantr...

And here is another good article:

http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoservices/pesticidesan...

I hope you're able to get rid of yours!

R.V.

answers from Los Angeles on

I've never used an exterminator or any product- just dumped the grains & nuts (and anything I think they might have a chance of getting into---YUCK is right!) and they'd go away. If they didn't, I'd probably missed a box of something. They do return occasionally (maybe 3 times in the past 7 years) & I just do the same thing each time.

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E.G.

answers from San Diego on

we tossed ALL grain products. pasta, flour, rice, rice-a-roni, hamburger helper boxes etc. we noticed the problem and I HAD been using plastic "sealed" containers. the exterminator told me they can sometimes eat through the plastic!
Now we keep basicallly all grain products in the freezer, because I don't want to go through all that again after having to restock. once their food source is gone (like for a few weeks) then they will go too.

I also bleached everything... but those bugs grossed me out, and I would rather have a house that smells like bleach for a day, and keep the baby out of the kitchen for a week than nasty creppy crawlies.

K.K.

answers from San Diego on

Hello, It sounds like weavils. They go for the flour products. I am not sure the best way to get rid of them, but I'm sure Home Depot or Lowe's has something to help you.
Good luck.
K. K.

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J.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hire an exterminator!

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M.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

Wow! I hope you find a solution. How frustrating!

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J.D.

answers from San Diego on

Living in an apartment, bugs come with the territory. No matter how clean my place is, I can't control the other apartments. Those little bugs stopped coming around when I put everything in ziplock bags. I buy pasta, the whole package goes in the bag. Rice, boxed stuff, all of it goes into it's bag. I use the heavy-duty ones, with no space to come in. Not the slide, has to be ziplock. Flour & stuff like that has glass jars with tight lids. The only time I have a problem is when I forget & leave something in there without it being bagged. Of course, that doesn't happen anymore! The bugs can't get to my stuff, and they go away. Good luck!

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R.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

Not sure if you already got this answer, but yes, they are grain bugs and I just heard from Melinda Lee on her program (food expert on KNX 1070) that if you freeze any flour or grains for 2 days in the freezer, that it kills all of the eggs which are present in the grains. Then you can defrost and store as usual, and you will not get any more grain mites. I guess the common misconception is that these bugs find their way itno the grains during storage, but in fact the eggs are already there when you purchase it. Haven't tried it yet, but hope it helps!

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K.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Call American Scientific. What they use to eliminate pest problems is 100% non-toxic and it works! I highly recommend them, they can help with all pest problems.

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A.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Sounds like weevils. Just spray a non-toxic bug spray and keep all items in airtight containers and they won't come back.

A.L.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

i've battled a small (1/8") for years. Never got it all, till I threw everything away and used Lysol to really get into the wood and cracks where there still might be one, or an egg. Saturated the cupboard, then wiped it up. Try a really thorough cleaning, with Lysol before you get professionals. I even had a professional come to my house and this was his suggestion!

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J.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

I had this problem years ago. A friend explained that they like to feed on the paste used on cardboard boxes. A box you buy at the grocery store could be infested before you even buy it. My culprit was a box of dog biscuits. After a couple of ineffective tries to get rid of them, I either threw away or sealed everything from the pantry in water-proof bags or Tupperware. Tupperware (or the )equivalent is really best. Sometimes they find their way into a ziplocbag. Then I wiped down the shelves and walls of the pantry and gave them a good spray with bug killer. I waited a day and wiped everything down again. You don't have to worry about the insecticide getting into your edibles since they are all sealed up. If any bugs show up in anything you've sealed up, take the whole mess and dispose of it outside. Eventually you will be rid of them. Good luck.

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J.Q.

answers from Las Vegas on

Sounds JUST like what we have in our pantry. Our bug people called them Merchant Grain Beetles. They said they like stale/old grains. They said there was something they could spray, but I would need to clear out the entire pantry first, and I haven't done that yet, so don't know if it would help. That is a project I still need to get too. For now, I am keeping all my grains or anything they might get into, in other parts of the kitchen. I've just been putting jars and cans in the pantry. Must get to this, I want my pantry back! Good luck, and so sorry you are dealing with this.

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C.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Jan D is exactly right. I had those little buggers even eating the glue in the cardboard container of SALT. You must throw all of your cardboard products out and inspect everything else. Take EVERYTHING out of that part of the kitchen and make sure that they aren't hiding in another area. Check cans and dishes. EVERYTHING. Then wipe down every surface in your kitchen/pantry with a disinfectant cleaner. Let everything dry and before anything goes back in wipe down the cans etc. When you buy knew products in cardboard containers, open them as soon as you get home and store them in tall plastic locking containers for cereal, rice, flour, pasta, sugar, etc. I have only had to do this twice in 30 years but what a mess. Another name for them is book lice.

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi S.,
I addition to everything else I've read, I would add vacuuming the pantry, before
using any cleaning product - then throwing the vacuum bag away. I've had bugs in my flour, my rice, a container of bread crumbs and in the dog treats at different times. My neighbor gets different bugs, more like moths and the vacuum is great at getting the live ones that hang out on the ceiling.
Best of luck to you.
Linda

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C.Y.

answers from Los Angeles on

sent a big long message, just checking to see if it went thru. Internet is acting up.

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