What are weevils?
Weevils are insects that live and feed off of certain foods. There are over 60,000 species in total measuring 3mm to 10mm in length, although only three main types are commonly found in kitchens across Australia; Indian meal moths and grain/rice weevils. Indian meal moths are known for their tiny maggot-like larvae and leaving a powdery substance or webbing in packets of grain, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate and even dry dog food. Grain weevils, on the other hand, prefer hard cereal products (e.g. spaghetti) and rice weevils mostly attack grains and seeds.
How do you get weevils?
The majority of the time, the produce is already infested by weevils before you bring it home – whether this occurred at the processing plant, grocery store or even a delivery vehicle. The problem is they breed quickly.
According to the AEPMA, female weevils lay between 60 and 400 eggs on any given food surface, which hatch after 2 and 14 days. Then, depending on the temperature, the larval stage will last approximately 2 to 41 weeks.
"The larvae are able to penetrate even well-sealed packaging… After 5 to 6 months, larvae will climb to wall/ceiling intersections where only a small proportion of them will pupate immediately, the rest entering a resting phase (diapause), which allows the extended emergence period.”
What happens if you digest them?
Weevils (including the moths, larvae and eggs) are perfectly safe to eat, albeit slightly unsavoury! In fact, it’s very common for both humans and animals to ingest them along with the food they have infested.
What can you do to get rid of them?
It’s important to act fast as soon as you spot the first signs of weevils:
- Inspect all stored foods to find and dispose of anything the weevils have been feeding on.
- Remove all foods (even those not infested) from the pantry.
- Vacuum the shelves (both top and bottom) and surrounding floor, paying close attention to edges and corners of shelves.
- Wipe shelves clean, getting into cracks, crevices, and corners with a natural cleaner, e.g. eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil or vinegar.
- Return any non-infested food to the pantry, ensuring they are in tightly sealed containers.
Note: Weevils don’t just live inside the pantry! It is important to check anywhere in the home food is stored to ensure all weevils are found and eliminated.
How can you prevent further infestation?
- Store items such as flour, grains, cereals and pulses in the freezer.
- Leave dried bay leaves in each airtight container along with your food.
- Source non-toxic, pesticide-free pantry moth traps.
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