How To Get Rid Of Flour Mites And Protect Your Pantry

Flour mites are a common pantry pest that can be hard to detect. They feed on dry foods stored in cupboards, like flour and pasta, and prefer dark humid places. They're hard to notice because their bodies are white with brown legs and measure less than a millimeter in length. It's almost impossible to notice them until they create an infestation.

If there are flour mites in your dry goods you don't have to be too concerned, according to 24/7 Pest Control. They are only poisonous if you're allergic to them, in which case you may experience skin irritation, throat swelling, and heavy breathing. However, if you're not allergic to them, accidentally eating living or dead flour mites won't cause you any lasting health problems. Getting a flour mite infestation is mainly up to chance. They are typically brought into homes when cheap flour, wheat products, grains, or even dry pet food are purchased with the bugs already living inside. When dry goods are kept in a dark, warm environment the flour mites will lay eggs that hatch and increase the infestation.

Throw away infested foods

Since flour mites live in our food, they cannot be removed with pesticides. Throwing away the affected food is the best thing to do when the infestation has grown too large to handle. It is safer to dispose of the flour than to attempt to clean the flour mites out of it. It's not unhealthy to eat a couple of flour mites, but no one wants to purposely eat them. Plus, flour mites can create a moldy flavor in your baked goods.

To dispose of infested dry foods, place everything that came into contact with the contaminated food in a sealed bag and throw it in an outdoor garbage can, recommends 24/7 Pest Control. It is wasteful to throw food away, but this will prevent the infestation from growing and affecting the other foods in your pantry. Once the food source is removed, vacuum your cupboards, paying extra attention to the corners. To prevent a reoccurrence the vacuum's contents should be thrown away in an outdoor garbage can too. Then use warm soapy water to thoroughly clean the cupboards.

Freeze your dry goods

Freezing the new dry foods you bring into your home is one of the best ways to prevent flour mites from making a home in your pantry. As soon as you bring your groceries home, any flour, wheat, or grain products should be put in the freezer. It will need to be kept below 0℉ for four to seven days to ensure that any flour mites that may be present are dead, according to Tips Bulletin.

This method works best as a precaution, to kill any flour mites that may or may not be present in the dry goods you purchase. The freezer will kill all living flour mites and larvae as well as prevent any eggs from hatching. Once the seven days have past the flour should be sifted to remove any possible flour mites since the freezer will only kill them, not remove them from the food.

Dry, cool pantry

Prevention is the best way to handle flour mites. They eat the grains in flour and other dry goods so they can't be sprayed with pesticides. In addition to other methods of preventing flour mites, like freezing your flour, you can create an environment in your pantry that flour mites will hate.

Flour mites thrive in a warm, dark, and humid environment. There are a couple of things you can do to make your pantry a place where flour mites can't thrive. Placing a fan in your pantry will help to keep the air cool and dry out any humidity, notes 24/7 Pest Control. Mini dehumidifiers are another way to keep the air in your cabinets cool and dry. It's inevitable that the insides of your pantry cupboards will be dark so focusing on adding a fan or mini dehumidifier is your best bet along with other preventative measures.

Clean airtight containers

How you store your dry goods will affect the severity of a flour mites infestation. Storing dry goods in clear containers that have airtight seals is the best way to prevent a few flour mites in your flour from growing into an infestation in your entire pantry, warns Tips Bulletin. You want the containers to be transparent so you can clearly see if there are any bugs inside. It's also important that these containers are clean so any unknown flour mites aren't transferred to a new bag of flour when it's added to the container.

Another way to prevent flour mites is to use food-safe insect repellents. This can be done by putting a couple of bay leaves in your flour container and around your pantry. They're also safe to put in your flour container because they don't have a strong flavor so it won't affect the taste of your baked goods. Bay leaves work as pest repellents because pests don't like the bitter smell or taste of bay leaves.

Spray essential oils

Along with bay leaves, there are a couple of other natural ways to deter flour mites from infesting your pantry. Essential oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, neem, and pine are scents that flour mites don't like, so they will stay far away from wherever you spay it. To use essential oil you will need to put 2 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of the essential oil of your choice in a spray bottle. According to Tips Bulletin, you can then spray the mixture in your cupboards and on your shelves. Another method is to soak cotton balls in essential oil and put them in the corners of your cupboards.

If you would rather not use essential oils another option is food-grade diatomaceous earth. This method would kill the flour mites as they walk through it, preventing an infestation from spreading between your dry goods. To use diatomaceous earth, first, clean your cupboards with soap and water, then liberally sprinkle the powder along the edges of the shelves and in the corners.