So, you have some bugs in your chia seeds.
Are they worm-like? Mites? Or even adult moths?
I don’t think you need their source of protein mixed in with your nutritious chia, right?
I mean, the last thing you want to do before sprinkling a teaspoon of chia on your yogurt is to see a small white worm squirming around on the surface of your yogurt like it’s a swimming pool.
So let’s find out how you can get rid of bugs in your chia seeds (and prevent them in the future).
In this guide, we’ll talk about:
- Why you have bugs in your bag of chia seeds
- Ways to get rid of them naturally
- How to keep bugs away from your seeds
- And more FAQs
By the end of this page, you should never have to deal with any pest eating your seeds again (except other humans).
Sound good? Let’s get the bugs of your chia.
Why are my chia seeds moving?
But seriously. Bugs.
There are a few known culprits to be commonly found in dry goods like chia seeds. Namely, meal moths.
To the untrained eye, you may see small white worms, maggots, grubs, or even adult moths.
All of these are probably the same bug- the Indian meal moth (AKA “pantry moth.”). This is a common pest found in cereal, flour, powders, seeds, nuts, and other dry storage foods.
They can get inside the smallest crevices which allows them to feed all day and night. Foods that are stored in resealable plastic bags, food storage Tupperware, or even glass mason jars are all prone to being infested with these little buggers.
Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to get rid of meal moths.
It’s easy to identify the bugs in your seeds.
After all, cracking your favorite bag of seeds open only to see a bunch of larvae squirming around is disgusting.
You may see any of the following:
- Small white, shiny worms about ⅔” in length
- Clumps of white webbing
- Black or brown heads on the worms
- Shed worm skin
- Frass (looks like powder)
- Larvae hanging on the walls near your pantry
- Cocoons on the edges of the food package
- Webby material in the bag or on the seeds
- Adult moths (dead or alive)- you may also see them flying around your kitchen at night
Why are there bugs in my chia seeds?
It’s no other than they’re attracted to the seeds and they have a place to mate and lay eggs.
Chia seeds are often sold in packaged bags, which naturally has a lot of folds as it sags down. These folds offer a place for the moth to lay their eggs and hide, which then give rise to the worms you notice in the seeds.
They like the food source because it’s nutritious for them, and they like the environment because it’s humid, dark, and has a lot of hiding places. This is why you transfer to glass ASAP.
Where do chia bugs come from?
Sometimes they may come in directly from the processing plant.
It’s common for them to be infested with some degree of pests. And meal moths are a prevalent pest that many farmers and plants have to deal with.
It only takes a few eggs to be hidden in the packaging or seeds for it to emerge later as a worm. This is not exclusive to chia- it also can be found in dog food, flour, pasta, and even crackers.
If the processing facility isn’t 100% pest-free (which most aren’t), then it gives way for moths and other mites, worms, and beetles to find their way into your food.
Otherwise, bugs can also come from:
- Nearby foods in your pantry that are infested
- From outside your home into your kitchen
- Or hitchhikers from food that you regularly buy- once you stow the infested food in your pantry, the bugs can escape and infest other foods
What bugs eat chia seeds?
Here are some of the most popular pests that you’ll commonly find in stored, dry good.
As mentioned earlier, the most common bug you’ll find munching on your bag of seeds is the pantry moth or meal moth.
The adults are capable of flying around and getting into open packages or even the tiniest crack in your resealable package.
Once they’re in, they start depositing eggs that hatch into dozens of larvae which is where those small “worms” come from.
These are the larvae of adult moths. Their only job is to eat your chia until they’re ready to pupate and spin a web. Then they’ll emerge as an adult.
This will leave behind many clues in their metamorphosis.
You’ll find any of the following in your chia seeds:
- Small worms that “squirm” with black heads (about the size of a dime)
- Web or cotton-like materials stuck to the sides of the food packaging or seeds
- Discarded wings
- Adult moths
Mites have also been spotted munching on seeds.
These are small black or gray mites that can be seen crawling across the seeds. There are many different household mites that will gladly eat your dry goods.
Here are some guides that you may find helpful:
Ants will also be attracted to chia seeds, though to a lesser extent. Kitchen ants are a prime pest, especially the tiny ants.
These ants are easy to miss if you don’t look closely.
Since chia seeds are dark in color, the ants camouflage right in and you may not even know that you have an ant problem until you’re helping them down.
But hey, extra spice to flavor your chia, right?
If you have ants eating your chia, here’s a guide to getting rid of them.
Out of all the seed infestations, these three pests seem to be the most prominent.
If you’re dealing with something else entirely, you can still use the resources on this page to help control whatever it is that’s making your chia seeds move.
Do chia seeds attract pests?
Some may say that chia seeds have oils that naturally repel pests, but from my experience, this doesn’t work on meal moths.
If anything, the oils from the chia seeds only help make the moths stronger.
That’s probably why they’re always found buzzing around seeds.
If chia seeds didn’t attract bugs, then why would people like this be complaining that their bag of seeds has a bunch of bugs in it?
Bugs that look like chia seeds
Seeds are seeds. They may look like certain bugs because of their shape- especially beetles that take shelter in your dry foods.
The seeds are small, black, and ovular. Beetles are the same. If you spot something moving around in your food, do a complete inspection and see if it really is some kind of pest.
And if it is, then that’s why you’re here. Let’s find out how to get rid of those bugs.
How to get rid of bugs in your chia seeds
Here’s the process to clean out the infestation so you can enjoy your chia once again.
Step 1: Take out everything
The first thing you need to do is to remove EVERYTHING in the infestation area.
If you kept your chia seeds next to a bag of flour, rice, cereal, pasta, or some other dry good, it may also be harboring pests.
Remove everything in the immediate area- whether it’s a cupboard, drawer, shelf, pantry, etc. Get it all out.
And put it somewhere away from the rest of your kitchen, like outside on a piece of black or white construction paper.
Step 2: Check the affected goods
You already know your chia has bugs, but what about the rest of the foods that were put next to your seeds?
You need to completely and thoroughly check for pests. This is what the construction paper is for.
You dump out the contents onto the paper and the contrast will make it easy to spot bugs.
- Dark-colored bugs will show up on the white paper.
- Light-colored bugs will show up on the dark paper.
You can also use a magnifying glass or the camera on your phone (zoom in) for a makeshift viewer.
Single out the goods that have been infested with pests. Take the rest to your sink and rinse the containers if possible. Then keep them aside.
Step 3: Toss out infested foods
Throw out all the foods that have pest activity. That’s right
Throw ‘em out. If you want to cherry-pick and keep the “good” portions, go for it. But be warned, it’s not easy to spot moth eggs that have yet to hatch.
You may think you’ve emptied all the infested seeds, but there could be hidden eggs, worms, or some other pest stuck to the seeds or hidden from view.
And then when you put everything back in your kitchen, you have another outbreak on your hands.
The best way is to just throw it all out so you eliminate the problem 100% and prevent them from reinfesting your seeds.
Step 4: Do a deep clean of your kitchen
This is the pat you’ll want to be extra through with.
Do a deep clean of your kitchen and clean out everything where the infested goods were placed.
Replace any shelf liners, or wash them with water and dish soap. Make a DIY cleaner (2 tbsp dish soap per quart of water) and use it to rinse your pantry.
You’ll want to check for any hidden eggs that may be stuck to other packages, shelving, cabinetry, drawers, wood, or cupboards.
Pantry moths will stick their eggs in hidden areas, such as behind each unit layer of the shelf. They also hide in the hinges and behind the entire cupboard if there’s a gap between where it meets the wall.
You’ll want to use a flashlight and clean out EVERYTHING.
Or else you’ll just risk the meal moths coming back to your chia seeds. This isn’t some quick clean. This should take you a few hours to thoroughly get everything.
If you can’t reach some areas, you can spray dish soap into the crack.
But make sure the furniture or paint won’t’ get damaged by testing it on a small portion first.
Do this before you wipe down anything as some finishes are sensitive to soaps.
You can use dish soap and water as a base cleaner.
But if you want to be thorough, use a toothpick or toothbrush to clean out the edges and crevices to remove the eggs and any stuck debris. Don’t forget to check around the jar lids!
Next, grab your handheld vacuum cleaner and start sucking up all of the shelving. You can use an upright vacuum and the hose nozzle attachment.
Get inside all the nooks and crannies to remove cocoons, dead skin, and moths that could be hiding.
Change the bag or empty the canister right when you’re done. They can escape out of the vacuum if you don’t and then infect some other part of your home.
Dispose of your trash you used for the day. This will prevent any adult moths or larvae from escaping back into your grains.
Don’t skip this step. They can even hide under the lid of glass jars!
Step 5: Transfer your chia seeds to a secure food container
If they got in the previous package, they’ll get into it again.
Transfer it to something secure such as an airtight mason jar. This will make it a lot harder for them to break through and keep out all sorts of pests.
Dispose of ALL plastic food packaging or cardboard.
Both of these provide tons of hiding places for moths and mites- both of which will eventually migrate to your chia seeds. Transfer all your dry goods to airtight glass containers.
Step 6: Freeze the seeds
Next, take the jar with the seeds and pop them into the freezer after you’re 100% sure that the OUTSIDE of the container is free of larvae, moths, and eggs/cocoons.
You can wash the exterior if needed with some dish soap.
Take it, toss it in the freezer for a week.
The cold will kill the moths and larvae over time, plus the eggs will also wilt and die. Pretty cool.
The chia seeds will be just fine in the cold, so not to worry.
When you take it out, let it warm up to ambient temperature.
Check for any larvae or eggs. If you notice them, it means that it wasn’t 100% clean when you transferred the seeds into the jar.
Dispose of it and buy a new bag. otherwise, you’re good to go.
Step 7: Be quick when you get seeds
The next time you serve yourself some chia, be quick. Take the container and move it somewhere away from your pantry.
Open it and check for pests. If none, use a scoop and scoop out whatever serving size you need.
I suggest leaving the scoop in the container so it makes it harder for something to be transferred into the seeds from outside.
Doing all these steps should clean out your current infestation and help prevent future outbreaks of bugs in your chia seeds.
How to keep bugs out of your chia seeds
Here are some tips to store seeds so that they will not get full of insects the next time you open the bag.
Use airtight containers
You can always get a hold of some airtight Tupperware for your seeds.
These not only keep your food fresh, but they also stop the smallest of pests from getting inside. If air can’t get in, bugs can’t get in.
And even if they could, they’d use up all the oxygen trapped in the container anyway. It’s airtight, right?
The thing to note about these is that you need to seal them correctly. Most use a rubber gasket that lines the lid and container together, effectively keeping the air out. That also makes it waterproof at the same time.
However, if a bug is already in the container (such as sneaking in when you’re snacking), you’ll just end up trapping it in there and letting it eat, breed, and pupate.
Sure, it’ll eventually use up all the available O2 and suffocate.
But if you constantly open and close the container, it exchanges the air each time which may be enough for it to sustain itself over time.
Note all the foods pantry moths eat
Other than your chia seeds, meal moths are attracted to a wide assortment of other foods- anything that’s a DRY GRAIN.
You’ll also find them munching down dried fruit, candy, pet food, herbs, nuts, birdseed, and powdered milk.
If you keep any of these foods near your chia, you want to make sure they don’t come from other foods and then infest your seeds.
Or the other way around.
Meal moths are attracted to any dry foods that are good for long periods. Storing any of next to your seeds will give the possibility of even more pests in the future.
So if you see bugs in your chia seeds, they may also be present in your other packaged foods.
Toss out cardboard and plastic bags
The moths will use this to deposit eggs.
When you keep chia seeds in their original plastic bag, it folds on its own weight which creates a bunch of natural folds in the package. These are prime areas for meal moths to lay their eggs.
They also use cardboard food boxes and seek the little edges and crevices at the corners for egg-laying
So if your chia comes in a bag or cardboard box, transfer it safely to an airtight glass jar.
Make your own bug repellent
You can make your own meal moth repellent with a mixture of vinegar and water.
Add them in equal parts to a spray bottle and a drop or two of peppermint essential oil. This will make a repellent you can use to clean your pantry and repel future pests at the same time.
Keep your dry goods separate
Since bugs that eat dry goods only eat dry goods, you can do some damage control by distributing your food wisely.
Group them by usage or logic and place them separate from each other- in different areas of your kitchen.
For example, you can keep all your spices in one area.
Then, you can keep all your flour, baking powder, and other related things in a cupboard.
Your quick access dry goods like cereal, oats, pasta, seeds, and such can be kept in another separate compartment.
This makes it harder for any bug to infest all your goods at the same time. If a meal moth got into your baking powder, it’d only infest the nearby flour and other baking goods.
But your cereal, oats, pasta, and seeds should be OK. This makes your next kitchen cleaning job a lot easier.
Use bay leaves
You can buy a pack of bay leaves and put them around your pantry to keep moths away.
Just scatter them in key areas and it just may repel the pests from entering your kitchen. People online say that it works, so why not?
Keep your pantry well organized
Keeping everything in its rightful place will not only make it easier for you to find things, but it’ll also help keep bugs away.
You can easily identify what’s infested and remove it when necessary.
Plus, it looks good.
Keep chia seeds in the fridge
You can safely store chia in the fridge if you don’t want to keep getting bugs in them.
You don’t even have to transfer the seeds out of the original packaging if you just store it in the cold.
The only drawback is that you need to chow down cold seeds the next time you eat them.
Otherwise, putting it in the fridge should be good until you need it again. This works best for those who only use seeds once in a while.
Buy only as much as you need
I know. You get the best deals on bulk chia.
But if you have a lot of moth activity in your home, consider only buying smaller quantities of what you need every month.
This will make it easier to toss out if you see another bug problem surface in your kitchen again. Not to mention you get a fresh supply of seeds rather than one stale order.
Here are some additional references you may find useful:
Did you get your chia bug free?
Well, that’s it.
Were you able to use some of these home remedies to get rid of the bugs in your chia?
It’s easy once you get things going. If your kitchen is a mess, clean it up, and store foods properly. Spend a weekend doing a deep clean.
Use a bunch of natural repellents like bay leaves, sticky traps, or simply keeping your kitchen clean. Store foods in glass containers with airtight locking lids.
Getting rid of chia bugs is easy and stopping future pest problems is even easier.
It just takes some work.
Did you have any questions? Post them below and let me know.
Or if you have any feedback or found this page useful, let me know as well. Consider telling a fellow chia head!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.
1 thought on “How to Get Rid of Bugs in Chia Seeds (Naturally)”
I like the bay leaf is a great idea easy and cheap thank you I’ve just started putting my grains in the freezer right from the grocery store for 3 days so now maybe a week then I store them in some glass jars from jam pickles or other things I buy saving my mason jars for things that I make when fruit etc is in season