Over the past month, we have had numerous residents call or visit the Extension office with samples of tiny insects found in and around kitchens and pantries. In all cases, the insects were identified as small beetles commonly known as flour beetles and drugstore beetles (see images).

Both of these insects feed on stored grains and foods either in homes or in other places where these products are found, such as grain storage bins. They are nuisance pests only and do not bite humans.

The flour beetle. The flour beetle primarily feeds on broken or fine-ground grains such as meals and flours. The flour beetle is generally considered a pest of grain bins, mills and warehouses, but can also be found in the home. Flour beetles will eat and reproduce where there is ample food. An adult beetle can live for approximately one year and lay over 400 eggs. When hatched, small brown worms grow to 3/16” and develop into the adult beetle in about 6 weeks.

The drugstore beetle. In addition to flour, other food sources for drugstore beetles include grains, tobacco, pastas, spices, nuts, dried fruits, bird seed and pet food. Female beetles can lay up to 100 eggs that hatch into small, white worms that grow to 3/16”. These worms develop into beetles in roughly 6 to 8 weeks.

What can homeowners do? If small beetles are found in your kitchen or pantry, you must locate the source and dispose of it. Check cupboards, pantries, drawers, storage areas, and pet food bowls. Vacuum all surfaces and wipe them down with soapy water. When beetles are found in a stored food or pet product, discard the infested material. Alternatively, heat small quantities of infested materials to 125°F for 2 to 4 hours or keep in a 0°F freezer for one week to kill all life stages of the beetles.

The key to managing both of these pests is prevention. Homeowners should keep all grains, food products, and pet foods in sealed containers where beetles cannot enter. Clean up all traces of flour, fine dusts or materials that may attract beetles in and around kitchen and pantry areas. Pesticides are not recommended for control. They can eliminate adult beetles, but do not control those in the larval stages.

For additional information, please contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at Scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.