How to Identify Grain Beetles

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The number of different types of insects that will invade grains, flours and other foodstuffs stored in your home is truly dizzying. The list includes: foreign grain beetles, red flour beetles, confused flour beetle, rice weevils, granary weevils, sawtoothed grain beetles, merchant grain beetles, shiny spider beetles and American spider beetles. By feeding on the grain and breeding among it, they will contaminate it. Here's how to identify two of the most common flour-nibbling pests: sawtoothed and merchant grain beetles.

  • Find a small, clean and dry glass container.

  • Warm the container to at least 70 degrees, but not hotter than 100 degrees. A little warmer than the average room temperature is about right.

  • Place the live insects that you wish to identify in the glass container and place it on a firm, flat surface. The warmth of the glass container will encourage the insects to be active.

  • Observe the insects closely. If they walk up the vertical side of the container, they are very likely to be either rice and granary weevils or sawtoothed and merchant grain beetles. If they have curved, elongated snouts, they are probably weevils.

  • Look for six teeth on each side of the insects' bodies resembling a saw, a mark of both sawtoothed and merchant grain beetles. Their brown bodies are about 1/8-inch long, have a narrow, oval shape and are quite flat, enabling them to crawl into very small spaces-even into certain foodstuffs that you might think are well sealed.

  • Gid of pests in your pantry and prevent any further infestation by disposing of all grain and foodstuffs that have already been infested.

  • Clean all shelves with a strong disinfectant cleaner, ensuring that all cracks, corners and hard-to-reach places are completely clean.

  • Place all food that has not been infested in airtight plastic containers that can be completely sealed and isolated.

  • Avoid grain and other food spillages on shelves and pantry surfaces. Immediately clean up any spills that occur in the future.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before disposing of infested food, lower its temperature as rapidly as possible by placing it in a sealed plastic container and putting it in a freezer for four days. This will kill off the insect pests, preventing them from infesting any other location.
  • Grain beetles don't just eat grain and flour. They'll snack on a wide variety of foodstuffs including cereals, cornmeal, cornstarch, popcorn, rice, dried fruits, rolled oats, bran, macaroni, sugar, spices, herbs, candy, dried meats, chocolate, bread, nuts, crackers, and dried dog and cat food.
  • Do not spray insecticides close to food or in places where food is stored. Insecticides are poisonous to humans as well as to insects and may cause you and your family to feel ill.
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