Keeping Bugs Out Of Your Food

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how to kill bugs in flour

Keeping Bugs Out Of Your Food

My mom has told me about some of her childhood experiences visiting her grandparents in the summer. Often, when they poured out the syrup there were ants floating in it. (Those were the days before pesticides). She vividly remembers how her grandpa told them they had to eat the syrup anyway.

I love to gross out my grandkids with that story! Today, most of us wouldn’t dream of eating something that had bugs in it but food was very expensive back then, much more so than it is now, even with the rising prices. They made sure not to waste anything.

With rising food prices, many people are trying to to find ways to earn more money but it might be better to learn to take care of the food we do buy and not waste it. This would go a long way in saving money on our grocery budgets.

One way to do avoid waste is to take care of the bugs. Here are a couple of tips to help you prevent bugs from getting out of control:

  1. Place flour in your freezer for 24 hours. This will kill any bugs or larva in the flour. Yes, there are usually bugs or larva in flour.

    If you tend to find bugs in rice or pasta, freeze those items for 24 hours too.

  2. Wipe down your pantry shelves with Lysol concentrate. It’s the Lysol that comes in the brown bottle, not the spray. At one point, I lived in a house that had been built in 1917 and, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of the weevils and little bugs. An exterminator once told me to completely wipe down the insides of my kitchen cabinets with Lysol concentrate and it was the only thing that worked.

    You might want to wipe down everything with Lysol once a year. It’s a good way to keep your cabinets cleaned and organized. It will also help you find and use food you forgot you had that might have been getting outdated.

I know this may take some extra work but if paying attention to little details like this helps you avoid having to get a second or third job it may be worth it.


photo by: advencap


  1. Lisa says

    Thanks for this article. I live in an old house and always seem to be fighting ants. I’ll give the Lysol concentrate a try.

    • says

      Lisa I don’t know if the Lysol will work for ants or not. They are so hard to get rid of. I used the Lysol for weavils, and the like. Ants are really hard to get rid of. You might try the Lysol though because when I used it I didn’t have a problem with ants.

  2. jett9020 says

    Regarding the ants, try finding their paths, then sprinkle some corn meal over it. They will take it back to the nest and it should work. At least it did for me. Their digestive system can’t handle it.

    Love to hear from you if, it worked.

    • mellie says

      Yes, Jett, it does work. It takes a little time, a couple of days, because the ants take it back to the nests, eat it, and then it expands inside them, and they explode. Dead ants.

  3. says

    if you can find where the ants are coming in or leaving pour some black pepper around the area.

    another tip for those little black beetles that get into drawers is to put a bay leaf in the drawer. Don’t know why it works but it does. It works for other bugs and smells nice so I toss them in all my cupboards. Even the ones for dishes as sometimes bugs like to investigate there.

  4. Jodee says

    One day when I was at the food bank where I volunteered, a young woman came in demanding that her rice be replaced because it had weevils in it (also threatening to sue us for “giving her bad food,” but that’s another story.) One of the other ladies there had grown up in WWII Europe and was horrified by the idea that someone in need would throw out food. She showed me how to put rice in a large bowl, fill it with water, swirl it around, pour off anything that rose to the top, and continue repeating the process until the water stayed clean, then drain it off, add fresh water, and cook the rice. She pointed out that rice fresh from the field has contaminants and must be cleaned, too. Since she had been doing it for roughly 60 years and hadn’t been harmed, I gave it a try and still do it to this day. Some people might find that distasteful, but I find unnecessary waste distasteful.

  5. Christy says

    I use bleach to wipe down the areas where I see ants coming in the house, works like a charm. Just becarefull if you have little ones and pets.

  6. Heike says

    We live in a home that has been neglected for years before we moved in. I have ants everywhere 9 months out of the year. A great “topical” killer that works on contact is Simple Green, and my most favorite semi-permanent killer is traps (jars or bottle with hole punched in lid) filled with 1 t grape jelly and 1 t peanut butter, mixed with 1/4 t borax. The ants go crazy over it and are all gone the next day. I will put several of these traps all over my house to try to keep them in check this year.

    • michelle says

      this also works for fruit flies I use a piece of banana and vinegar the flies go in and can’t get out

  7. Heike says

    Question on the actual topic: do you use the concentrate pure or do you dilute it according to the bottle instructions?

  8. Sandi says

    I’ve used the freezer for flour, rice, and pasta ever since I had a very bad infestation of those little tiny moths that leave webbing in the food. I even keep the cream of wheat and cream of rice cereal in the freezer all the time. For ants, I wipe down every place they are with a very soapy sponge and let it dry without rinsing. It can take several times, but with one son having very severe asthma I couldn’t use sprays. I would have sworn the house we lived in for 20 years was built on an ant hill.

  9. Lisa says

    A fool proof way to get rid of ants is Terro. You can find it at Home Depot, or Lowe’s. You put the bait out, and at first you will be swarmed with ants, but DON’T kill them. Let them take the bait back to their nest and feed it to the queen. It will eliminate your ant problem.

  10. Fiona says

    I live in a hot desert land! Ants and insects used to be a major problem in the summer, and we always used to find them in their hundreds near our cat’s food bowls.
    I took a tip from the locals: Strategically position a cinnamon stick along the skirting of the room, or in a corner. It can be discreetly placed and few people will actually notice it at all!
    A few days later, you will find you will be rid of the ants, – they hate cinnamon. A good tip as it is hae=rmless to pets and children.

  11. says

    I found that putting a bay leaf or two in my containers keep the weavels out.I used to have major problem with weavels especially in cornmeal and flour until I started doing this.

  12. Angie says

    Bay leaves do the trick for me, too. I don’t like to use a strong chemical like Lysol, so I wipe my cupboards with vinegar. I freeze new bags of flour etc. but the big one seems to be bay leaves. I tape a couple to the side of the cupboard and pop one into each jar of dried beans and grains. I refresh once a year. Works like a charm and smells great, too!

  13. says

    put a thin line of dishsoap around the openings the ants come from and the ants won’t cross the soap line, I use a q tip to put soap around my outlets because for some reason this is a place ants come in. I also freeze my flour and grain. I wonder if a bay leaf would work in a big container of flour?

  14. nicole schooper says

    I don’t have an ant problem but i had a weevil problem a while ago. I cleaned everything out and they went away for a while but they came back in a few weeks. I searched the web for solutions on how to get rid of them and came across a product called Weevil Away. They have these little adhesive sticky pads that have a natural/organic solution on them. They repel the weevils which sounded like a great idea to me. I’d rather repel them in the first place rather than wait for them to show up and then try to get rid of them. I stuck one in every one of my cupboards and hoped for the best. The smell is fantastic and it’s been almost a year and still no weevils. Love this stuff!

  15. Betty says

    PLEASE help me find a way to get rid of roaches. I borrowed an appliance from a friend to use for a few weeks and then returned it. I found out that she had roaches and they were in the appliance motor and I now have roaches all over my kitchen. They are driving me crazy amd I just want to burn down my kitchen….I’ve tried everything, including commercial sprays. HELP!

    • says

      Betty it is a nightmare to get rid of them. I have lived where they have roaches for years. Once I kept bombing and spraying my house and they were still every where. 4 bug guys and much torn out hair later, I found out they were nesting under the siding on my house and after I sprayed or bombed they would soon come marching back in literally.

      I don’t mean to sound discouraging and you can get it under control. Be careful. Some people spend money, work and time on natural remedies and by the time they have messed with these they end up with a mess and an awful infestation. Natural things just don’t work and if someone says they do they don’t live where there are real bugs or at least not the hardy bugs we have.

      You will need to bomb (fog) the house.Anything like the floor that you need to mop before you fog. My best friend was an exterminator and he said the biggest mistake people make is they fog then go in and clean everything down and wipe it all away. You need to give it a day or two to work.You have to open every cabinet and drawer. Yes it is a pain and a mess but the only way. I usually set the dishes on the table and cover with a tablecloth then cover things like canisters, toaster, coffee pot with tea towels. I will put some things in my fridge or oven to protect them. Can goods and things in sturdy boxes I don’t worry about but things like sacks of sugar or flour I would cover too. Don’t forget pet bowls (I set those in the oven) and fish tanks. Anything that you will eat and is open you need to cover or close.

      Don’t just fog the kitchen but fog the whole house although I would just open closet doors and bathroom cabinet doors and leave it at that. If you just fog the kitchen they will run into other areas of the house and don’t for get the garage. Thank goodness the stuff they use now doesn’t smell like it use to and doesn’t leave a gummy film any more. You will need to wipe down that counter tops, table tops and places where you prepare food then when you are done. If you have crawling babies or toddlers you may have to mop the floor even though I said not too but I would leave a couple of inches from the baseboards unmopped. I had toddlers and I myself was raised around much stronger stuff and it seem to not have done us any harm at all.

      Be cautious but not overly paranoid. The way I figure those roaches are going to bring in more diseases and harm my family worse then any bug bomb will. Before you put things away for extra protection then spray around the baseboards and under the sink. Now don’t panic if you see even more for a day or two after you do this. The fog is bringing them out from hiding to die. Also if in a week or two you see any more you may have to do it again. I know big pain. But if you keep on top of it once or twice you should be good to go.

    • says

      One other thing I forgot to mention is you need to know the nature of bugs to understand why fogging or using bug bombs are better then natural things or even chemical sprays. There are many things that will kill a bug (a foot, fly swatter :) just kidding). Tawra has had me use plain old dish detergent in a bottle of water for years for aphids and it works really well but what people sometimes forget is bugs like roaches have nests inside of your walls and every where.

      You can kill a few bugs by using soapy water (like I mentioned above) or spray with different things or even putting powders out but what happens with these is it only kills those that have come out in the open and often only the adults. For every 10 adults you catch with soapy water or by walking in what you spray there are millions of babies and eggs left behind in every nook and cranny of your house. The fog penetrates into every crack there is, behind switch plates, corners of book shelves, cracks in walls, everywhere and it not only kills the adults but most of them now kill the babies and eggs. It will draw them out from the deepest places in your house and kill them. That is why I said you would maybe see a bunch after you fog because they are trying to escape from inside of places.

      Natural things and some chemical sprays only kill the bugs that are out in the open and not inside and hidden. Some natural things can be carried to the nests but even then that won’t always kill the eggs.

      I hate to sound like I’m on a soap box but I hate bugs. I have lived where they have not had things as nice as we have here in the states and it is not pretty at all. I don’t mean to gross anyone out with this story but I don’t think we understand how bad it can be if we don’t have pesticides. Years ago a missionary told a story of how when she first arrived at Hatti to do mission work. She had a new baby that she was nursing one night in bed and fell asleep. She all of a sudden woke up and here covering her and her baby were hundreds of big black roaches. They had been attracted to the sweet milk that had leaked from her and were clinging to her all over.

      Like I said I didn’t want to gross anyone out but we don’t even begin to have an idea of a world with no pesticides and the fact that bed bugs are getting worse since they have started regulating them shows what is to come and is just the tip of the ice burg of what it is going to be like.

  16. Michelle says

    I warm up grains and flours to 200 degrees for an hour in the stove. Then I store them in glass jars that I used my bag sealer to suck out the air. I have a jar attachment for this. Since doing this I haven’t had any problems with bugs. I had a huge problem a year ago with stuff from the grocery getting bugs within a few weeks of bringing it home…it was the store because others who were shopping there had the same problem. The flour and grains really stay fresh and the quality doesn’t seem to be hurt at all. In fact in some cases I think it tastes better. I believe I read about this in countryside magazine, though I don’t put glass in the stove. I fill my big stainless steal bowls, cook, and then pour into wide mouth jars, and then seal of course.

  17. Betty says

    I am trying all of your suggestions at this time and I can only hope they work. In reference to the “fruit fly” problem, since we are now getting fresh pineapples at a reasonable price at ALDI, I have discovered when they get really ripe, the fruit flies appear overnight. Can I use a canning jar for the trap? and how many holes do I put in the lid? just poke the holes with an ice pick?

    • says

      You can use a canning jar and about 4 holes will be fine with an ice pick but I would instead use a closed baggie or sandwich bag and poke a couple of small holes with the scissors, knife or ice pick. It would be much easier. Make sure the holes are small about the size of a pin head. Leave it over night or until you have caught a bunch then carefully without disturbing the bag too much, lay a piece of tape over the holes. Then pick up the whole thing and toss in the trash. Don’t forget to put a piece of ripe fruit or peel in the bag first.

      When using the ice pick in the jar don’t make it as big as the thickness of the whole pick but just the very tip.

  18. Jeanene Overholt says

    Some years ago I had put a bay leaf in my flour. I do not bake very often so my flour lasts quite a while. Finally I made some cookies but they had a funny taste from the bay leaf. A person who uses their flour quickly probably would not have that problem.

  19. says

    You can get a shallow glass dish, put some water and a few drops of dish detergent in it and using a plant rack for a stand over the dish, install a plug in cord with a GREEN light bulb in a socket, (hovering about a foot above the dish) and it will attract all kinds of pest: flees, flies, spiders, ants, etc. When you see bugs drowned in the water, dump it out and put in clean water & dish soap. Also use food grade diatomaceous earth, use 1 to 2 cups of this miracle white powder, put in spray bottle and spray everything and everywhere. Kills all insects. Last summer we had a bad inch worm infestation on our fruit trees, I sprayed and they just dropped off dead to the ground, instantly. It kills head lice on kids, I again used it on my granddaughter and daughter in law, it kills bed bugs (I didn’t have them), flees on pets, etc. It also has medicinal properties for human consumption. Please try it, BUT make sure to use food grade. Put it outside on the perimeter of your property and you will never live without it again. It works on everything.

  20. Karen says

    Being in the South we have roaches everywhere. The only thing I have found that works is Boric Acid. It is harmless to pets and humans in small quantities, but will repel roaches big time. You can get in powder form or sometimes in tablet form. I will pur some inside cabinets, especially under sinks where they can get in by the pipes. by doors and windows. I have eves put it inside walls by opening wall sockets and squirting it inside. Change once a year and roaches will be gone.

  21. annie says

    When you use diatomaceous earth and put it in a spray bottle, how much water is added? Or do you add water? Sorry, but I’ve never used it before.

  22. Maureen Weldon says

    We have found a syringe paste @ Home Depot/Lowe’s. Inforcer is one brand. You can get it for roaches and or ants. basically, the bugs take it back to the queen. Therefore killing off the colony. Works great.

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