Are Pantry Bugs Harmful if Eaten? Learn How to get rid of Each

Are Pantry Bugs Harmful if Eaten. Also learn how to get rid of them

Have you ever opened your kitchen cabinet to retrieve something just to find some bugs lurking in the shadows? Well, I have and I promise you that I was shocked. That is when I sought to know if these pantry bugs could be harmful if eaten.

Basically, pantry bugs are pests that infest the pantry or the kitchen and eat up foods mainly cereals and flour.

Other the most common foods pantry bugs target include bread, crackers, pasta, powdered milk and nuts among others.

Basically, pantry bugs include all the pests found lurking within the kitchen cabinets and around your food store.

Are Pantry Bugs Harmful if Eaten?

Most pantry bugs are not harmful if eaten, even though the sight of the pests is unappealing and the idea of consuming them unknowingly is gross. However, try not to eat them because some could be carrying disease-causing pathogens that can harm your health.

Are Pantry Bugs dangerous if Eaten

Most pantry pests have not been connected to any parasites, diseases, or parabens currently.

Pantry bugs can be ingested during their egg, larvae, pupa, or adult stage depending on their size or the food supplies they are in.

There are different types of pantry bugs that can be found in the kitchen.

However, the most common types are classified into moths, beetles, and weevils.

The most common pantry moth is Indianmeal moth, while the common pantry beetles are Sawtoothed grain beetles and Drugstore beetles

The most common pantry weevil is the Granary, rice and maize weevils.  

1. Indianmeal moths

The moth, which is scientifically known as Plodia interpunctella, is the most common pantry moth in homes. When mature, they have a wingspan of between half and five-eighths of an inch.

Indian meal moth on cereals and nuts

Indianmeal moth can eat and attack a wide variety of grains, plants, other products consumed by humans.

The moths can feed on cereal, birdseed, plant-based dry pet food, nuts, dried fruits, rice, soup mixes, pasta, flour, bread, and spices.

According to pantry bug info from the University of Florida, the wheat from northern Manitoba facilitates the development cycle of the moth.

The optional plant-based food products eaten and infested by the moth include almonds and American yellow corn.

However, maize meal and groundnuts slow the development cycle of the bug.

The Life cycle of the Indianmeal moth

The Indianmeal moth has a life cycle characterized by four stages. Those stages are egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. The eggs are located where grain or other human food supplies are stored.

For the eggs to develop, the temperatures around them should be more than 10 °C (50 °F). The eggs are light grey with a length ranging from 0.3mm to 0.5mm, and they are laid directly on the food.

The mature female can lay the eggs in clusters of 12 to 30 or singly, and the total number it lays at a time can be from 100 to 400 eggs.

The eggs hatch between the seventh and the eighth day after being laid at 20 °C, and between a third and fourth day at 30 °C.

This marks the beginning of the larvae stage. They immediately disperse and establish their food source in a few hours.

The larval development can take between six and eight weeks if the temperatures are between 18 °C and 35 °C.

Depending on the temperatures and the food source, the larval instars’ number can vary between five and seven.

The more mature larvae consume grain germ while the newly-hatched consume grain. The fully developed larvae are capable of spinning webs that are left as trails of their travel.

They can also create threaded cocoons. The pupal stage is characterized by dormancy because the larva is transforming into an adult moth.

The stage lasts between 15 and 20 days at a temperature of 20 °C, and between 7 and 8 days at a temperature of 30 °C.

The pantry bugs info from the University of Minnesota suggests that the adult stage of the Indianmeal moth is meant for mating and renewing the life cycle of the pantry bug.

Mating and laying eggs usually occur three days after the emergence of the adult. The life cycle of the bug can take about 30 to 300 days.

However, the typical cycle lasts about 50 days while optimal conditions can result in a short 28 days.

The cold winter months delay the development of individual stages which can result in 300 days. This is what is known as diapause.

Can Indianmeal moth harm when eaten?

Consumption of the Indianmeal moth is not harmful to humans as it is with other pantry bugs. As determined in another article, pantry moths cannot harm humans even when eaten.

Humans can ingest the eggs, the larvae, or the pupa of the moth accidentally or unknowingly through a wide range of dried foods that are plant-based.

Such foodstuffs include bread, cereal, rice, pasta, flour, couscous, spices, nuts, and dried fruits.

They can also be consumed through chocolate, crushed red pepper, cookies, coffee substitute, cocoa beans, and mangel-wurzel.

They can infest commercial foodstuffs for pets such as cat and dog food, and birdseed.

2. Sawtoothed grain beetles

This species of pantry bugs are scientifically known as Oryzaephilus surinamensis.

It is very common globally and it infests plant-based products such as grain (like rice and cereals), chocolate, tobacco, and drugs.

The botanical name of the species translates to “rice-lover from Surinam” because the first specimens to be studied were from Surinam.

Apart from feeding on plant-based foodstuffs in the house like dried nuts, seeds, cereals, and fruits, the pantry bug also feeds on dried meat and macaroni.

The life cycle of Sawtoothed grain beetles

The pantry bugs info on the beetle indicates that it has a lifespan of between six and ten months. Within their lifespan, the female can lay between 43 and 285 eggs which are usually deposited on foodstuffs.

The most favorable range of temperatures for the development of larva in the eggs is between 80 °F and 85 °F (27 °C and 29 °C). If such conditions are constant, the eggs can hatch between three and five days.

The larval stage is characterized by the emergence of whitish-yellow larvae with brown heads that can reach up to 3mm in length.

The larvae crawl freely within the foodstuffs while feeding on grain debris or the kernels of grains that have been damaged by other pantry bugs.

They can also bore into the grain if they are large enough. The larval stage accounts for the greatest damage of the foodstuffs stored within the pantry. Before transforming into pupae, the larvae molt 2 to 4 times.

The pupae stage is characterized by dormancy. In preparation for the pupation period, the larvae construct coverings that resemble cocoons suing grain debris. The adult Sawtoothed grain beetle emerges after about seven days.

The average lifespan of an adult Sawtoothed grain beetle is between six and ten months. However, some can have a lifespan of close to three years.

Within the adult stage, the pantry bugs may move out to seek new food sources which are also their preferred breeding places.

In places with severe infestations, the bugs can nibble on people’s skin.

Can Sawtoothed grain beetles harm when eaten?

The pantry bugs info provided by health and safety researchers from the University of Minnesota indicates that the consumption of the Sawtoothed grain beetle is not harmful to human health.

This pantry bug is not harmful if eaten. However, in severe cases of infestation when the adult bugs nibble on people’s skin, the bites are also not harmful.

This occurs when people consume dried foodstuffs in their pantry that have not been properly sealed in their containers.

The bug may also find its way into the pantry from the processing and storage facilities.

3. Drugstore beetles

Drugstore beetles are common globally, but their abundance is concentrated in warmer places or regions, or within heated structures in temperate climates.

The drugstore beetle

The pantry bug is scientifically known as Stegobium paniceum.

The drugstore beetle is commonly referred to as biscuit beetle or the bread beetle.

It infests and eats a wide variety of plant-based products that have been dried.

Drugstore beetle also has a habit of consuming prescription drugs hence its name.

While in the pantry, it feeds and infests flours, bread, dry mixes, cookies, cookies, and spices and sweets.

They also infests and consume materials that are non-food like leather, hair, horn, wool, and museum specimen. It can bore into wooden objects, books, and in some cases lead sheets, aluminum or tin foils.

The life cycle of the drugstore beetle

The pantry bugs info from the University of Florida states that the adult drugstore female beetle can lay close to 75 eggs within the foodstuffs.

The larval stage ranges between four and twenty weeks depending on the quantity and type of food source. Drugstore beetles’ larvae crawl within the foodstuff while feeding.

When the larvae are fully developed, they build a cocoon and transform into a pupa. The pupation stage is also characterized by dormancy for about 12 to 18 days.

The adult drugstore beetles can live between 13 and 65 days. Even though the average lifespan of an adult drugstore beetle should be less than 2 months, some may live for 7 months.

This is because their lifespan and the life cycle are dependent on the prevailing temperature and the type of food source and quantity. The standard temperature for the bug’s development is between 15 °C and 34 °C (60 °F and 93 °F).

The optimal conditions of its development are about 30 °C (85 °F) with a relative humidity of between 60% and 90%.

Can the drugstore beetle harm humans if eaten?

Just like other pantry bugs, the drugstore beetle is not harmful to humans if eaten.

Can the drugstore beetle and other pantry bugs harm humans if eaten in food or cakes or biscuits

People may accidentally consume the eggs, larvae, pupae, or adult bugs from a whole and processed grains, and vegetable products.

The infested food that people may eat the bugs include beans, flour, rice, bread, pasta, cereals, tea, spices, and tobacco.

Freezing the infested foodstuffs below -20 degrees Celsius can eliminate the bug in all developmental stages.

4. Granary, rice and maize weevils

The weevil, which is also known as the maize weevil, is scientifically known as Sitophilus zeamais. It is also known as the greater rice weevil in the United States.

The maize weevil is commonly found within the tropical regions globally and in the United States.

It majorly attacks and eats standing and stored maize and other cereals like rice and wheat.

Other cereals that are common targets include sorghum, barley, oats, rye, peas, buckwheat, and cottonseed.

The weevil also infests and consumes stored processed cereals such as cassava, milled grains, pasta, and stored fruits such as apples.

This shows that this species of bugs is the most dominant and destructive pest globally.

The life cycle of a maize weevil

For the bug to be fully developed, it takes an average of 36 days. When the female is fully mature and ready to lay fertilized eggs, the weevil bores a hole through the preferred grain surface and deposits a small white egg that is oval in shape.

The female weevil then covers the bored hole using a waxy secretion as the ovipositor is removed, thus creating a plug.

The plug hardens leaving a small raised notch on the seed’s surface.

Maize Weevil in action eating maize

The female weevil only lays a single egg per grain.

The egg hatches and releases a white larva without legs.

It remains within the hole inside the seed while feeding on it.

The larvae will remain inside the seed until it pupates. The pupa will also remain inside the seed until it has fully transformed into an adult maize weevil.

The adult weevil creates an exit hole through the seed to emerge. It is believed that one female maize weevil can lay between 300 and 400 eggs within her lifetime.

Adults live between five and eight months. The conducive conditions for breeding are temperatures ranging from 15 °C to 34 °C, and with a relative humidity of 40%.

When the adult maize weevils emerge from the grain, the females release sex pheromones after they have moved to a higher surface. This attracts the male maize weevils to begin mating.

How to get rid of different pantry bugs

Many people facing pantry bug infestation in their homes and kitchens wish that they can get rid of them once and for all.

The good news is that there are methods and products that can be used to eliminate the infestation.

The following are the best practices you can apply to defend your home against pantry bugs:

How to get rid of the Indianmeal moth

While at the store, inspect the packages of the foodstuffs before purchasing them. Look for broken seals and holes. Older products may give eggs more time to hatch.

When you bring the products home, check for damage or holes within the internal packaging.

After that, apply the following ways of controling indian meal moths in your house.

  1. Trap and monitor Indianmeal moths using sticky traps from products like a Pantry Pest Trap. In fact, pantry traps are effective because they help interrupt the breeding of the bugs.
  2. You should then store your foodstuffs in sealed containers to avoid entry of the moth.
  3. If you discover an infestation in any of your stored food products, toss it away while sealed in a recyclable grocery bag.
  4. Treating the infested foodstuffs can be an option if you do not want to toss it away. The first option is to freeze the foodstuffs for seven days. Microwaving them for 5 minutes can kill the infestation.
  5. The next step is to completely disinfect your pantry and home using products like Catchmaster Pantry Pest and Moth Traps, and Terro Pantry Moth Traps.

Getting rid of the Sawtoothed grain beetles

  • While at the store, inspect the packages of the foodstuffs before purchasing them. Look for broken seals and holes. Older products may give eggs more time to hatch.
  • When you bring the products home, check for damage or holes within the internal packaging.
  • Store your dried foodstuffs in sealed bags and containers.
  • If there is an existing infestation, identify the affected products and dispose of them.
  • You can also freeze the affected foodstuffs for six to seven days if you do not want to dispose of the foodstuffs.
  • You can also use fumigation as an option. This procedure can take up to six months depending on the severity.
  • You can use products like Black Flag, Terro, and Catchmaster.

Getting rid of the Drugstore beetles

  • While at the store, inspect the packages of the foodstuffs before purchasing them. Look for broken seals and holes. Older products may give eggs more time to hatch.
  • When you bring the products home, check for damage or holes within the internal packaging.
  • You should then store your foodstuffs in sealed containers to avoid entry of the moth.
  • If you discover an infestation in any of your stored food products, toss it away while sealed in a recyclable grocery bag.
  • Treating the infested foodstuffs can be an option if you do not want to toss it away.
  • The first option is to freeze the foodstuffs for 16 days. Microwaving them for 7 minutes can kill the infestation.
  • The chemical products available for getting rid of the bugs include JF oakes Pro Pest Pantry Moth & Beetle Trap, and Pro-Pest Pantry Moths & Beetle Trap.

Getting rid of the Granary, rice and maize weevils

  • While at the store, inspect the packages of the foodstuffs before purchasing them. Look for broken seals and holes. Older products may give eggs more time to hatch.
  • When you bring the products home, check for damage or holes within the internal packaging.
  • You can freeze the infested food products to kill them.
  • An easily applicable home remedy can be purchasing neem or bay leaves and putting them inside containers with foodstuffs that are prone to contamination.
  • Sprinkling clove leaves around the pantry area can fight off the infestation because the bugs hate them.
  • Keeping an open matchbox near the prone foodstuffs will fight the infestation because weevils dislike the smell of sulphur.
  • Fumigation can also help in fighting the infestation. You can use Eco Defense Pest Block, Able Catch Pantry Pest Trap, and Greenway Pantry Patrol Insect Trap.

FAQs on whether Pantry Bugs are Harmful if Eaten

Where do pantry bugs come from?

They originate from food processing and storage facilities. They can also find their way into your home by flying, crawling, or attaching themselves to your clothes.

 How do you keep bugs out of flour?

The best method is to completely seal the container with the flour.

 What are the little flying bugs in my pantry?

They are mostly Indianmeal moths and weevils.

 Do weevils carry diseases?

No study has shown that they carry diseases.

Can you eat rice with bugs in it?

There is no health risk when you eat rice with bugs in it.

Can you use flour with weevils in it?

Yes, you can use it if you don’t mind their presence.

You may actually be eating weevils in your food. Check this out 

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