As disgusting as it may be, we all have ingested weevils along with our food without knowing, whether they be adults or in the form of invisible eggs. You can find them just about anywhere – in your bedroom, pantry, and kitchen. These insects are such a common and persistent problem that there is simply no way of avoiding them altogether.
Causes of weevil infestation:
The weevil bug mainly thrives by laying eggs in whole grains or seeds stored in dark and moist places. Opened containers containing loose edibles and unsealed packets are their way of getting in. Weevil larvae and eggs too can travel far and wide. These tiny beasts have a special love for anything made with dried seeds and for cotton, depending on the type.
• Grain weevils – These are solid reddish brown in color and do not have spots. They have elongated pits on their thorax. The flour bugs cannot fly and are usually found in the colder regions, which also have the largest consumption of items made of wheat and other grains.
• Rice weevil – These are dull reddish brown in color with four faint yellowish spots on the back of their abdomen. The rice beetles have round pits present on the thorax. The weevils in rice can fly, and live in the warmer and moist regions.
• Boll weevils – Unlike the previous two kinds of weevils, these can cause actual damage to property as these primarily feed on cotton. So you can expect your clothing and your carpets to be infested and subsequently damaged by them. Weevils running all over your body would surely not be a pleasant experience.
How to kill weevils?
1. Soap and water
This is the most basic remedy you can try out to get rid of weevils from your pantry, cabinets, shelves, closet, and cupboards. Remove your shelf paper if required. Mix some liquid soap or detergent with water and wash the shelves with it. While cleaning, take special care of the cracks and crevices. However, do remember to dry those places before putting the things back.
2. Bay leaf
Bay leaf, also known as neem, has been used as a natural remedy since ancient times to help get rid of many problems. In case you prefer to keep flour in containers instead of in packets, chances are there would be greater contamination of weevils. Just put some bay leaves inside the loose flour to keep away the weevils. You can also put them in your cupboards and closets.
3. Vacuum cleaner
This is the easiest way to get rid of weevils. Not only that, the vacuum cleaner also takes care of other tiny creepy crawlies like fleas, mites and spiders, along with dust. This means that you would be free of them for quite some time after the cleaning in case of a light infestation. All you have to do is to empty your shelves of stuff and vacuum them thoroughly.
Clove is another natural ingredient that has a large number of uses. The weevils find its strong smell particularly repulsive. And it is very easy to use, making it a very good and simple solution to your weevil problem. All you need to do is take some cloves and spread them over the areas where you believe there are weevils or their larvae. Do this even on possible breeding grounds. Then try covering the area, like shelves, cupboards and containers. You will be rid of those pesky creatures in no time.
5. Wet clothes trap
Weevils have a particular affinity for dark and moist places. They actually find them more attractive than grains and cereals. You can use this to create a weevils trap in many ways. You can just keep a wet piece of cloth at a convenient place in your kitchen. Once it is full of the weevils, you can soak it in soapy water or you can throw it away after disposing of the weevils so they don’t cause further infestation. You can also place a moist piece of cloth in your cupboard and keep it for the night. In the morning, you will find the weevils crawling all over it. Wash it or throw it away after disposing of the weevils as per your convenience.
6. White vinegar
White vinegar, thanks to its acidic properties, is very uncomfortable for the weevils once it gets to their cutaneous layers. So to use it effectively to repel the weevils, rub your shelves with a solution prepared with the help of white vinegar once you are done cleaning them with water or the soap solution. It not only would make the adult weevils go away, but will also destroy the tiny ones and the larvae.
The matchbox that you use daily for a thousand reasons comes with sulphur which is used to ignite the flames. And the smell that is tingly for us is very unpleasant for the little bugs. So what you can do is keep a matchbox in the enclosed areas you believe to be infested by the pests, like closets or in your container of flour and pasta. The weevils will run away immediately. Repeat this technique after few days as long as they don’t disappear permanently.
A little exposure to heat can accomplish your task of getting rid of weevils very effectively. Heat the oven to around 120 F. Spread a thin layer of the edibles and the grains on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for around an hour. You can also keep the sheet in an oven at 130 F for half an hour in case you are in a hurry. In case you are using a microwave oven for the purpose, put the stuff on a glass plate or dish and microwave it for around 5 minutes. However, remember that this is not the recommended method for seeds that you plan to use for gardening, as the heat may destroy the chances of germination. Also, fine grains like flour may catch fire. And microwaving flour is only a temporary solution, and an oven at controlled temperatures is always the better option.
As has already been mentioned, weevils like dark and moist places, meaning that they would be extremely uncomfortable under harsh sunlight. Just keep the affected item, like cotton clothing or a container of flour, under direct sunlight for around a day, and the weevils will run away of their own accord. You can also take help of sunlight to combat weevils by spreading out the grain or the flour on a paper or something similar to the sunlight. Make sure that they don’t get wet due to rains.
Weevils are creatures that cannot stand extremes of temperatures, whether it is heat or cold. So, freezing things that weevils like, for example, grains, flour, pasta, oats, cornmeal and grits, is also a very efficient way. Not only do they die out, but their eggs dry up as well, preventing further weevil infestation. Flour needs to be kept in the freezer for 96 hours before it can be taken out and stored in normal temperatures.
How to prevent weevils?
A weevil infestation is never pleasant. While it is really impossible to avoid weevil infestation at least quite a few times in your lifetime, there are some ways you can adopt to control the infestation. Here they are listed below:
• Purchase the grains in bulk amounts because that way you get to inspect them right at the time of buying. So next time you are out buying the favorite stuff of weevils, like flours, rice, pasta, barley, corn, and quinoa, buy a large quantity after careful inspection.
• Purchase the food in clear packets if possible. That way, not only can you inspect the food while buying, you can also use treatments like sunlight in the case of an undetected infestation.
Needless to say, damaged or opened packages should be avoided at the time of buying.
• Never, ever dispose off your contaminated and wasted food inside the pantry as that can lead to a severe and stubborn infestation.
• If you see your floor being attacked by weevils only a few weeks after purchase, return it if possible as that can happen only if the flour is old and was milled at least six months back.
• Some people also tend to use chemicals like pyrethrin to fight weevils. However, take care while using them. In the case of pyrethrin, remove all loose and open food from the vicinity and clear the shelves of all containers. Do not fail to wait for the specified period before putting the things back.
• Flour shifter can also be used if you have time and patience.
• You can keep small nags of black pepper in your pantry and on the shelves.
So, you see that it is not really hard, overwhelming though the weevils might be. The things are already there in your pantry, so go use them to go weevil-free. All the best!