Flour Mites — tips on getting rid, the Irish consumer forum

Flour Mites — tips on getting rid


Frequent Poster

Have found infestation of mites in cupboard where flour/sugar/cereal is stored. I have binned, cleaned and disinfected the press and thought all was well but the little buggers have put in a re-appearance in the one new bag of sugar that I put back up there. I am off to buy sealed containers later but in case some still show perseverance, any ideas on how to get rid?


Frequent Poster

I’ve heard that the best natural way to get rid of them (as you don’t want to be using insecticides in your food cupboards) is to starve them. Apparently they are quite choosy and will only really go for flour/grain.

Completely empty the cupboard in question and wash out, dump infected food stuffs then leave for about a week before reusing the same cupboard. There will always be some that you’ve missed or can’t be seen etc — a week without food should kill them off.

Also, they tend to be attracted to flour/grains that are damp — so this may be a problem you should address.


We’ve bought these in Atlantic —

We put the bag of flour into one (leaving hte flour in the bag) and it works.


This one specifically —


Frequent Poster


Frequent Poster


Frequent Poster

Sue Ellen


As already mentioned dampness IMHO also encourages their appearance. Kitchens can be quite steamy/damp areas so encourage as much of a flow-through of air as possible.

stir crazy


A few years ago I went through a phase where I taught myself to cook. I experimented among other things with creating the batter which goes on sweet and sour chicken hong kong style

My cupboards were always spotlessly clean and perfect before I added the flour (stored in a fairly airtight biscuit tin) yet those damn little annoying things always appeared inside the flour.
I have never seen them in my sugar or outside in the cupboard itself but only in any bag of flour I brought home.

I always thought the mites came from within the flour itself and only appeared when it had ‘gone off’ ? (I also assumed that flour doesnt have much of a shelf life). Was I wrong ? Where do they come from ? If they’re attracted from somewhere then how do they live when I have no flour in the house ?


Frequent Poster

My understanding is that these creatures arrive in the early stages of flour/grain production — on the actual crops themselves. The milling process gets rid of most of them but yes, I think it is the case that they can be actually present in small quantities within the finished packaged product.

On the plus side, generally they are completely harmless if eaten — although heavily infested foodstuffs may provide health risks. At this stage however, the product would have acquired a sickly «off» smell and it’s low quality would be very noticeable.

Two folk tips I’ve heard of are: freeze any new bags of flour/grain as soon as you get it which apparently kills them. Not sure about this and not sure how something like flour would survive the freezing/thawing process.

Also, it is believed that these mites hate bay leaves — so no harm in throwing a few around in the cupboards.

Also, remember, during an year the average person unwittingly consumes a certain amount of insects anyway!

Regarding the damp/humid conditions required consider things like how well extractors are working, the positioning of the kettle to the cupboard in question etc.


The definitive (and long!) answer —

King’s College London

Psocids in the home
(B.D.Turner- text of a pamphlet written for the Pre-packed flour Industry)
To their dismay some people occasionally find that their food cupboards and especially dry goods such as flour, milk powder, sugar or semolina, have become infested with tiny grey or brown insects.They naturally, but wrongly, assume that the products themselves are always at fault.
Psocids are common but harmless household insects, between 1 and 2mm long, that can live in dry powdery type foods.
They do not like light or disturbance but prefer to live in dark, warm, humid places such as the folds of packaging in food cupboards.
They can live for about six months and in that time a female may lay up to 100 eggs. They can feed on a wide variety of dry food products from flour to cayenne pepper and also on the microscopic moulds that can develop in humid conditions.
They are not caused by poor hygiene; they are just as common in the cleanest of homes be they old or new.Research has shown that the sorts of psocids (there are several different types) that may cause problems in homes are rarely found where food is produced, so it is very unlikely that they get into the product during manufacture.
They prefer areas with a high humidity but can tolerate dry conditions for some days. Moisture in the home generally could be due to condensation from not having enough ventilation in the kitchen or bathroom. In new homes moisture is given off as plaster dries. Some food products, including flour, naturally contain some moisture. The kitchen is likely to provide the conditions they need, and fitted cupboards provide the darkness which attracts them.
In warm conditions they can rapidly increase in number. This is most likely to occur during the summer months when temperatures are higher. Any psocid problems are most likely to be noticed at the end of the summer.

Try to deny them the conditions they need to survive and multiply- warmth and moisture.Always keep your dry foodstuffs, cereals and the like, in a cool, dry, well ventilated place.Clear out your cupboards regularly getting rid of old and outdated dry foods which may get pushed to the back of the cupboard.
If you clean the cupboards using water, always make sure they are completely dry before you put the food back. The edges of chipboard shelves that are hidden from view are usually unsealed. Use a mastic sealer to prevent psocids, and water getting into the chipboard.
When you are cooking or boiling the kettle or even just using the washing machine or tumble drier, make sure that the kitchen is properly ventilated.
If condensation shows on windows it is being produced on all other surfaces as well, and may lead to mould growth on which psocids can thrive.
Remove the infested food immediately and dispose of it outside. Check everything else in the cupboard.

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Any dry goods that look alright can be placed in a plastic bag and left in a deep freezer for 24 hours. This will kill any booklice or their eggs that may be present in the folds of the packaging.

Food in cans and bottles will still be all right but make sure that there are no insects hiding under the labels.

Clean out all the dust, crumbs etc. then make sure the cupboard is completely dry before using it again.
Foodstuffs in packets can be stored in jars, tins or other airtight containers.
Inspect your food cupboards regularly and repeat treatment if necessary.
Remember, prevention is better than cure.
Always store dry foods in a cool dry place.


Flour mites!

Have just discovered flour mites in my cupboard, help! I put two bags of flour in a tupperware box so have been tightly sealed and just looked in the box and its crawling with them! Searched internet and discovered you cant wash them away as they love damp areas. Cant understand how we are so infested as flour has been kept in sealed tub and not in damp area. Any suggestions on how to get rid of them and how to prevent this happening again?

Oooh Yuck — they are vile aren’t they — we had them just before Xmas !! I just emptied the cupboard, swept everything out — wiped with a Flash Wipe and dried with kitchen roll, threw all the affected flour away and they haven’t been back since !

where do they come from? Are the eggs already in the flour? ewww?

Yuck indeed! They are nasty little critters that are making me itch. Just made DH get all the food out the cupboards to check there none elsewhere. Am about to disinfect but would love to know if anyone knows how to prevent them?

tinslebehindthefire — said on internet lays hundreds of eggs in the flour that hatch and lay hundreds more. Itch, Itch, Itch!! God knows how you get them but they have screwed up my plans of making a pie!

I had an infestation about 2 years ago and did what Scatterbrain suggests. Ended up throwing away anything that was ‘open’ (pasta, flour, noodles, cereal) regardless of whether there was any mite evidence.

No repeat so far — I check regularly!

i don’t think you can prevent them, all flour has them, its only a matter of time til they appear. best thing to do is buy flour in smaller quantities so you’re not storing it over a long period of time. our whole kitchen in our old house got infested once, from what i read on the internet, think they are called weevils, best thing to do is empty cupboards and hoover them.

Thanks ladies. Will get the hoover out and begin zapping the little critters. Wish me luck!

Yep — as scatterbrain says — remove infested/open packages and give the cupboard a thorough clean (and dry). They wont want to be where they have no food source.

Maybe its me — but I wouldn’t want weevils in my hoover — I’d sweep ’em out and bin’em !

Ok, I am well a truely paranoid now! Am going to be having nightmares that they are in all my cupboards and in my hoover! Mind you, I quite fancy a new hoover so could say to DH refuse to use it as may have them in there so MUST buy new one! Bang goes new years resolution for reducing our household waste and its only 2nd Jan.

oh crap. a whole new thing I didn’t know about to worry about.

It sounds like weevils. They are in the flour already, they don’t get in. If the flour was stored in a proper Tupperware container they cannot get out and so the rest of your food should be okay. It has to be real Tupperware, sealed properly to be certain though.

They can get in and out of virtually any other kind of container.

Weeviles in flour are one of the major sources of protein in the third world.

Many years ago I used to work in the consumer relations department of a large company that sold many different products, including cornflour and I remember when someone sent back cornfour complaining of little beasts (called psocids) it was just because of humidity. We told them to avoid having the kettle below a cabinet that contained any food as the steam made the ideal environment for them. And they just appear! They also could have become contaminated from incorrect storage in the shop — which I would have thought was more likely as they were in a sealed container. Is your kettle below the cupboard? We used to be sent back maggots in tinned toms and once a dehydrated tree frog in some dried pasta.

Kettle is beneath the cupboard and near the boiler so all in all a perfect breeding ground for them. Actually feel the lucky one reading your message about the maggots and frog, yuck! I guess there are far worse things to come across but am still itching!!

oh well glad you’ve sorted it then. Maybe have a shift of items around and put plates etc in that cupboard instead. Don’t worry I think they only lived in powdery substances so I don’ think you’ll find yourself munching on some next time you reach for a biscuit!

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Grain weevils — they come in infected products not in all flour, maybe low quality stuff? — I got some in bird seed, but they spread to pasta, biscuits etc. As well as chucking everything out, cleaning and putting all grain stuff in containers I got insect killer for weevilly things from supermarket. It took two or three weeks for them all to go, they can live on little crumbs, but I haven’t had a reinfestation since.

I had them once, I also remember my mum having them when I was small. It was awful when I found them in the flour, to be honest I had had the flour for ages (don’t bake often) so now I just buy flour when I need it and I throw away any that is left over.

I have got little moths in my food cupboard which lay eggs and turn into maggots, are they the same as weebils or flour mites

I have got little moths in my food cupboard which lay eggs and turn into maggots, are they the same as weebils or flour mites

No, they are different, but the treatment is the same — chuck out everything that is infested (look for live moths and larvae, but also anything with spidery web stuff on or in it. If in doubt, bin), then spend all of your money on storage jars and make sure you seal them properly.

You need to store things in air tight glass or thick plastic, they will chew paper or thin plastic bags.

You can buy moth traps from Robert Dyas for kitchen moths, but they only catch the males. They can be really persistent so cleaning and chucking is the quickest way to get rid of most of them. Good luck! They are real little fuckers.


Grain Mite: Is That What’s In My Pantry?

Never heard of grain mites? You aren’t alone. This small pest can have a big impact on the food we store inside our pantries. Grain mites, or flour mites, as they are also called, are typically pale whitish-gray pests. They are small , the biggest measuring just a quarter of an inch, but they can cause significant damage when they infest pet food, horse feed, cereals, rice, dried vegetables, cheese, corn, cornmeal and dried fruit. A female grain mite can lay up to 800 eggs, so these pests can spread rapidly throughout the infested food source.

Although this pest largely affects bulk grain storage, grain mites can be found in your home. So, what should you do if you see signs of grain mites in your home and kitchen, is it bad if you unknowingly eat them and how do you get them out of your house? Keep reading to learn more about this tiny pest.

Grain Mites in House

Grain mites can be found in your food, as well as in areas where food is kept, such as your pantry, kitchen and even your child’s bedroom if they sneak dry cereal for a snack and then forget it or hide it under the bed or in their closet.

Since these creatures are so small, the first sign you’ll know they are in your home is typically the dust-like residue they leave behind, which you might mistake for moving lint. Food that has been infested with grain mites may also give off a minty smell. If you detect an odd smell as you are munching on your cereal, bread or crackers, you might want to break out the magnifying glass to inspect a little closer. As you might expect, you may have a difficult time identifying which kind of mite has infested your home. Homeowners often can’t tell the difference between a mold mite , a cheese mite or another type of minuscule pest.

Cheese mites feed on cheese, as their name suggests. You may be surprised to learn that these insects are used to give some cheeses, such as Milbenkäse from Germany and Mimolette from France, a distinct flavor.

Like cheese and flour mites, mold mites feed on a fungus that can grow inside your home. If you have persistent damp or wet conditions in your home, mold mites might be your problem. Getting rid of the mold will help get rid of these mites.

Keep in mind that grain mites, like other mites, prefer hot, humid conditions. One distinction between grain mites and other types of mites is that they prefer dry food, like flour and cereal. Therefore, if you notice an unusual build-up of dust-like material in your pantry or in that type of food, it is most likely a grain mite.

Grain Mites in Kitchen

Since most of your food is stored in the kitchen and more specifically your pantry, this part of your home is the most likely place to be affected by grain mites. These pests may enter your home on your body if you come into contact with infected products from the store. Mites are wingless and smooth, so they don’t travel long distances on their own or move about the planet like other pests, such as ants. Since these insects multiply so rapidly, an infestation of your food can happen rather quickly.

You have a much better chance of bringing in mites on your foodstuffs than bringing them in with you when you enter your home. However, some mites may change into a stage called the hypopus. In this stage, their body hardens and they develop suckers which allow them to attach to insects or other animals and “move” with them.

The good news is that mites tend to be picky eaters and stick with those dry goods like cereal and flour and won’t impact other food items in your pantry like canned goods. Therefore, if you see telltale “dust” around these food containers in your pantry, you will want to take a closer look. It may not be that your kids spilled cereal or flour in your pantry; you could be dealing with lots of grain mites.

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When there are too many mites feeding in one area, they will move in search of food. You’ll want to check all of your food for the mites, in case they have migrated elsewhere. It is this movement from one place to the other that causes the “dust” you may see on your pantry shelves or other places where they feed.

What Happens if You Eat Flour Mites?

No one wants to admit it, but chances are high that most people have swallowed a gnat or other bug during your lifetime, whether you were running, biking, riding in a convertible or on a motorcycle when it happened. If your mouth is open, a bug can get in. You probably are alive to tell the tale, so the impact is likely negligible, except for the “eww” factor.

Although these pests are nasty to think about, flour mites are generally harmless to people. Just like swallowing a gnat or other insect in small quantities, ingesting a grain mite won’t hurt you. However, some people are allergic to mites and can develop an inflammation.

Even if you aren’t allergic, if you find out that mites have infested your food, you still don’t want to eat it. If mites get into enough of your food, disposing of infested food, purchasing replacements and cleaning out your pantry can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Some people are reluctant to throw out entire bags of food. If you were to make a loaf of bread using infested flour, you may detect a muddy taste to it. The mites themselves wouldn’t survive the oven, but your food still won’t taste quite the same.

If you find mites in your pet or horse food, don’t feed it to your animal. Mite-infested animal feed can cause allergic reactions, diarrhea, inflammation of the intestines. Feeding your animals food with mites in it can impair their growth and cause them to eat less. Since our animals can’t tell us what’s wrong, the only way we’ll know is if they get sick or reject the food altogether.

How to Get Rid of Grain Mites

Discovering that you have tiny creatures in your food or pantry can be alarming. If you determine that you indeed have grain mites, there are several things a homeowner can do to get rid of them. Consider taking the following 10 steps to make your home mite-free:

  1. Discard any infested food. For example, if you find mites in your pet’s food, throw out the entire bag. If your box of cereal has turned into a mite buffet, discard the whole thing in your outdoor trash.
  2. If grain mites are in your pantry, closely inspect each package or product and throw out infested items as needed. You may want to use a magnifying glass to identify which containers have become infested.
  3. Temporarily move your uninfested food to another location.
  4. Clean out your pantry with hot water and soap or a weak bleach solution. Remember to use warm or hot water, because it kills the mites on contact, and to rinse out the rag you are using so you don’t unknowingly move mites around your kitchen.
  5. Vacuum your pantry shelves, cracks and crevices, because these pests can hide in these areas too. Make sure to dispose of the contents of your vacuum outside of your home, since mites can reproduce so quickly. If you have a canister vacuum, empty it into a sealable plastic bag and add talcum powder to it.
  6. Put all of your food back into the pantry.
  7. Repeat this same process throughout your entire kitchen in areas where grains are stores. Wipe down all your surfaces with hot, soapy water and then vacuum.
  8. To prevent future infestations, consider putting your food in canisters with screwable or sealable lids. To prevent a future mite infestation, focus on your cereals, flours and other dry goods.
  9. Keep your pantry well lit and dry by reducing humidity to less than 55 to 60 percent since grain mites like dark, humid places. Avoid purchasing food in damaged packaging to reduce your risk of bringing these pests home.
  10. Regularly clean out your pantry and throw out old or expired food.

If the mites were found in another area of your home, thoroughly inspect and clean that area. Remember, if you find the tell-tale “dust”, they’re most likely on the move to another location.

Grain mites typically have a one-month life cycle, so even if you’ve missed any of the tiny bugs, once you deprive them of their food source, they should die off. That said, grain mites can also enter a “resting” cycle. If you complete all of the above steps and still have a problem, you may consider calling in a professional to remove the grain mites from your home.

Once you’ve handled a mite infestation, prevention will be key to keeping these creepy crawlies at bay. Remember to keep food in sealed containers and keep your humidity levels low to prevent these pests from invading your pantry and feasting on your flour.

ABC Can Handle Your Household Pests

ABC has been helping homeowners identify and manage pests for years. Our pest pros know all about every type of insect which might find their way into your home, and most importantly, how to get them out, for good. With ABC’s help, you can learn what signs to look for if you suspect you have an infestation and ways to make your home less hospitable for pests that thrive in our part of the country.


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