So, you need to get rid of rice weevils that are chewing up your dry goods.
In this complete guide for rice weevil control, you’ll learn:
- Why you have rice bugs
- Where they’re coming from
- Naturally ways to get rid of weevils
- How to remove the rice bugs from your grains, cereal, flour, and rice
- If it’s okay to eat weevil-infested foods
- And more
By the end of this guide, you’ll have everything you need to know to control and manage weevils.
You should be able to cook rice and eat it without seeing tiny black beetles no longer!
Sound good? Let’s dive in and get rid of the weevils!
What’s a rice weevil?
A rice weevil is a small, dark, beetle-like pest often found in dry goods like rice, oats, cereal, flour, and powder.
Their scientific name is Sitophilus oryzae and they’re part of the Curculionidae family and are considered a beetle. There are many weevils out there in nature and not all of them eat rice.
It’s a non-poisonous bug that’s harmless and doesn’t bite humans.
But just the fact that you have rice bugs in your food can be enough of a headache to deal with!
These bugs multiply rapidly and are excellent at hiding as they eat up your grains slowly without you knowing.
They have the ability to fly and chew through plastic and paper, which can lead to food spoilage and damage.
Rice weevils are also called:
- Rice bugs
- Tiny black rice bugs
- Rice beetles
- Rice black bugs
- Maize weevils
- Corn weevils
- Wheat weevil
Although there are many different types of bugs in rice, the rice weevil is one of the most popular rice pests found in the United States.
They’re also one of the most common bugs to get into rice since they hide inside the kernel and are hidden from view.
Where are rice bugs found?
They’re usually found in grain processing or storage facilities and infest a variety of dry goods like wheat, oats, cereal, flour, barley, rice, corn, buckwheat, pasta, and more.
They can also be found eating bird seeds, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, spaghetti, macaroni, and even dog food.
The most common source of rice weevil infestation is straight from the store, as the larvae hide inside kernels which keeps them hidden from the human eye.
What do they look like?
Rice weevils are about 2-3 mm in length when full size.
They have a dull, dark appearance with a hard outer shell that often is described as “black bugs” or “rice beetles.”
They have shaped pits on the thorax and 4 lighter yellow spots on the wing covers (elytra). When born as larvae, they have no legs and have a humpback with a small white head.
After becoming an adult, they can fly and are attracted to dim lights. They have 6 visible legs and a long “mouthpiece” in the front. Two large visible segments can be seen from the dorsal and side views.
Rice weevils are quick-moving and will come out during the day. They’re active during both day and night, but you’ll notice them mainly when you’re cooking or eating in the kitchen area.
Depending on the species of weevil, the appearance can slightly differ. Rice weevils are smaller than maize (corn) weevil. The coloration can also be different depending on the species.
Can rice weevils fly?
Yes, adult weevils have a developed wingspan and are capable of flight. Larvae and nymphs don’t have wings yet, so they can’t until they reach adulthood.
Rice weevil life cycle
Rice weevils have a simple life cycle.
The adult female will lay 4 eggs per day and produce about 400 eggs during its fertile lifetime.
The eggs hatch in 3 days and the larvae emerge and eat the inside of grain kernels for 18 days. After that, the pupal lasts about 6 days.
Then the new adult will remain inside the grain kernel for 3 days while its cuticle hardens and it gets a hard outer shell.
A single generation of rice weevil can be completed in just under a month, which allows them to multiply rapidly.
Since they’re hiding inside grains, this makes them easy to spread and infect new food sources.
Sometimes when you bring home grains from the store, they can already be infested with weevil eggs and you don’t even know until it hatches from inside the grain!
How long do rice weevils live?
Rice weevils complete their life cycle in about 8 months to become an adult with wings.
They live about two years depending on the environment conditions. Females will lay up to 400 eggs over their lifetime at an average of 3-6 eggs per day.
Do weevils bite humans?
No, rice weevils will not bite or sting humans. They’re also not dangerous or harmful to humans or pets, nor do they have any diseases and are not poisonous.
They’re also not known to transmit any diseases to humans or pets, as they’re completely harmless and aren’t interested in us because they’re not carnivorous.
Rice bugs will only eat rice grains, nuts, seeds, and some fruits. Thus, they feed exclusively on plant matter (herbivores) and won’t bite you or your pets.
Both rice weevils and granary weevils are harmless pests. Therefore, rice weevils are a mere annoyance as they don’t bite, but it can still be hard to exterminate from your food.
How long can weevils survive without food?
Rice weevils can survive up to a month or longer without any food.
This makes them hard to kill, especially because they’re small and good at hiding. If you plan to starve them, be sure to wait at least a month before proceeding.
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You should consider using heat or freezing to kill them rather than starving them because the process is delicate and can take a very long time. And they don’t need much food to eat either.
So if they come across some dry good scraps, they can refuel and don’t need to eat again for another month.
Can weevils damage furniture?
Rice weevils won’t damage your furniture, curtains, carpet, clothing, or other household items.
They’re not interested in eating your possessions and only eat grains, nuts, and fruits.
This pest is completely harmless towards humans and pets but can be annoying when discovered in your bag of rice because they can be difficult to get rid of.
Can weevils eat through plastic?
Yes, rice weevils can munch through thin plastic containers and bags.
They can also eat through paper packaging easily. This is why dry goods, rice, and grains stored in plastic bags or paper containers aren’t safe from weevils and are prone to infestation.
You should always transfer any flour, rice, or other grains from their original packaging into a new, weevil-proof, airtight container to protect the dry goods from being infested.
As long as the storage container is airtight and made from thick plastic or glass, weevils will have no chance to enter it. You should do this for all foods that are prone to weevils.
Also, be sure to inspect the grains and rice you buy from the store before transferring into an existing container. If you’re buying more rice and adding to a previous container, you’ll want to make sure that the new rice you’re buying has no rice bugs first.
Or else you’ll risk having weevils infest the old rice from the new rice. You must repeat this process for all the foods you buy where you add to a previous container. This will ensure that you stop and prevent future rice bugs for good.
How do weevils get in pasta?
Weevils can get into your pasta just like how they get into any of your other dry goods.
Poorly sealed or opened packages are all prime targets for weevil problems.
They can chew through thin plastic bags or containers and also make their way through paper packaging. Since most pasta containers are thin paper and are often not airtight, rice bugs can find their way into the dry goods easily.
That’s why you need to use an airtight solid container made from metal or thick plastic to stay weevil-proof.
Can you eat rice with rice weevils?
Rice weevils can be difficult to exterminate after they infest your rice grains as they’re small and multiply rapidly.
Even if you find rice bugs in a new bag of rice, you can still safely eat the rice after you rinse and wash it. When you wash the rice, manually remove all the bugs you can see that float to the surface by hand.
Rinse and cook the rice
Drain the water and repeat the process a few times until you don’t see any more bugs floating.
Then continue prepping and cooking the rice as usual. The rinsing process will remove the majority of rice weevils from the grains and the cooking will kill the remaining bugs and their larvae.
If the idea of eating rice grains that have been infested grosses you out, consider returning the bag of rice to the store or exchanging it. If it’s a new bag that came infested, you should be able to return it without issue.
Check to see where the bugs are coming from
However, if you’ve had the bag for some time and it became infested with rice bugs, then it may be your fault and they may not accept returns.
If this is the case, you’ll want to do a thorough inspection around your kitchen pantry area to see where the rice bugs are coming from.
- Are they eating up your stored goods in a nearby cupboard?
- Or do you already have some kind of powder, grain, mix, flour, cereal, or fruit stored nearby that already has a weevil problem?
You’ll want to tear apart your kitchen or food storage area and see what’s going on before you buy more items because they’ll be prone to infestation.
The weevils may be difficult to control, but if you really identify the infested food, you’ll be on your way to reducing their numbers and eliminating the population.
What do rice weevils eat?
Other than rice grains, these bugs have been known to eat a variety of foods that are all plant-based.
Some of the most popular pantry foods that have been attacked by weevils include foods like beans, cereals, corn, seeds, nuts, fruits, flour, oatmeal, mixes, dog food, chili powder, whole grain rice (jasmine, brown, etc.), roots, quinoa, oats, barley, wheat berries, and pasta.
Although these bugs get their name from “rice” begging that they’re called rice weevils, they don’t feed exclusively on rice grains.
So don’t be surprised if you find a rice bug crawling around on your dried fruits or seeds!
How to get rid of rice weevils naturally
Here are some of the most popular methods for rice weevil control that you can do at home. Try a few and see which works for you.
Use bay leaves in food containers
You can use bay leaves as a natural repellent to get rid of rice bugs.
These leaves are cheap and available in bulk packages at many specialty supermarkets. They’re often found as a cooking ingredient available at international markets.
Buy a few bay leaves and place them directly into your pantry or kitchen cabinets and drawers as a powerful repellent.
The aroma released by the bay leaves act as a natural way to get rid of rice weevils and many other kitchen bugs.
Place bay leaves into the rice or grain containers
You can even place the leaves into small socks (such as vegetables or thistle socks) and then directly into the containers with your grains, oats, cereals, and rice.
The smell will spread throughout the container, especially if it’s an airtight container, and this will keep the rice weevils away. Use bay leaves both inside your flour, rice, grain, and cereal containers.
And use them around kitchen cabinets and pantry
And use them around your pantry, drawers, and cabinets. You want to distribute the scent as far and wide throughout your entire kitchen and food storage areas as possible.
Use strong herbs
There are a few other powerful and aromatic herbs you can use to help repel rice weevils. Use cloves, rosemary, onion, and peppercorn around your kitchen or food storage areas.
You can use a thistle sock and fill it up with a combination of any of these herbs to make a powerful and natural weevil repellent.
Make a few socks and place them around your kitchen grains, oats, and cereals to keep the rice bugs out.
Note that bay leaves and herbs may end up adding flavor to your grains, flour, and rice. If you want to avoid this, don’t use the leaves or herbs directly in the same container with the dry goods.
Can vinegar kill weevils?
Vinegar is effective against rice weevils. You can spray pure vinegar onto weevils to kill them, then wipe them down to remove them.
Be careful spraying near food items because the taste of vinegar will be added to foods you spray. Vinegar is best used for cleaning purposes, such as sanitizing kitchen cabinets from weevils.
Soap water is a spray that kills weevils. You can make it at home by mixing 1 cup of tap water with a 8-12 drops of dish soap. Swirl together and then place it into a spray bottle.
Spray the solution directly onto any rice bugs you come across or use it to clean your kitchen pantry. The mixture will kill weevils, larvae, and their eggs.
The pungent odor of garlic is a powerful and natural way to keep rice bugs out. You can buy a few cloves of garlic.
You can cut them up fresh or dice and mince them into a sock. Place the garlic around the kitchen in your pantry and the weevils will tend to stay away from it.
The smell of garlic eventually takes over your entire kitchen and will drive the majority of pests out. Weevils are just one bug that hates garlic, some others include spiders, thrips, and even centipedes.
The best part about this method is that you can easily swap out the garlic when it loses the scent and becomes ineffective. Then replace it again with fresh garlic to power up again.
Repeat until the weevils are driven out of your cabinets. Note that this doesn’t work for rice bugs that are already in your food containers as the garlic scent will have a hard time getting into the container.
Just like bay leaves, neem leaves can also be a very effective natural repellent for rice bugs.
You can buy neem leaves from specialty stores and place them around your kitchen pantry. The scent from the leaves helps keep weevils out.
You can also place the laces inside the food containers so the scent spreads and is trapped inside.
This can deter and keep new bugs from infesting your foods. Neem leaves are an effective DIY remedy to keep rice weevils out of your rice.
You can use a fresh slice of ginger in your pantry to act as a natural repellent.
You can also cut a few slices and place them into the dry goods container to keep the rice bugs away.
The scent of ginger is powerful and acts as a natural way to get rid of rice weevils due to the aroma. Ginger has little scent towards humans, which makes it an easy way to drive the bugs out without disturbing you.
You can use old matchboxes or matches to help repel rice bugs.
The sulfur found in the matches is a natural deterrent and you can place it near your rice grains, cereals, flour, or oats to keep the weevils out.
A box of matches seems to work better than single matches, as the scent is multiplied when many matches are in a small area.
Rice weevils don’t like any bright light and tend to hide in dark areas. If you’re able to open up your kitchen blinds and let natural sunlight shine into your pantry, this can help stop them from establishing a nest in your dry goods.
You can also consider moving infested goods outdoors in a sheltered area to let the sunlight shine on them. This may help drive the weevils out.
Be careful if they decide to take shelter and hide under the grains of rice. You’ll want to check before you move the food back into your kitchen for bugs.
Sunlight is a natural and safe way to keep rice weevils away- just make sure your food isn’t perishable in sunlight.
Clean up your kitchen
Keeping your entire kitchen clean and well-maintained is the one of the best and most effective things you can do to control rice bugs and many other kitchen pests.
These bugs often find their way to your kitchen from infested foods but will keep their extended stay by infesting other foods that are poorly sealed.
This is why you should take measures to dispose of all infested foods and seal up clean foods. This is actually the only way to truly break the cycle.
As long as you have some dry goods that have weevils, you’ll never be able to completely get rid of them. You need to eliminate and throw out all foods that have possibly been infested.
Dispose all infested foods
So start by disposing of all dry goods that you suspect weevils to be present in. if you’re unsure, throw it out.
Even just a few rice weevils can multiply and reproduce, which will cause you headache down the line. You want to take no chances are throw out anything that has weevils.
Transfer to weevil-proof food containers
Next, separate the dry goods that you know for sure are NOT infested.
Transfer them to 100% airtight containers with thick plastic walls. This will prevent and protect your dry goods from future weevil problems.
Cleanse the entire kitchen
Lastly, clean up your kitchen in general.
This means doing basic practices like:
- Wipe down your pantry
- Add shelving liner or replacing damaged ones
- Dispose of old kitchen tools or gadgets
- Throw out old food, spices, herbs, or other dry goods
- Replace damaged containers for food storage or prep
- Throw out foods that have poor packaging or sealing
- Throw out foods that haven’t been sealed properly, have holes in the packaging, or don’t have airtight seals
- Dispose of unknown foods or goods that have unmarked expiration dates
This will help finally control and manage your weevil problem. Once you clean up your kitchen and do a thorough cleanse, keep it maintained to stop weevils forever.
Vacuum cabinets and under appliances
This deserves its own section because weevils will travel for food prices to find new things to eat.
You’ll want to vacuum all your kitchen drawers, cabinets, and pantry to suck up any weevils and their eggs. They’ll also feed on food scraps, waste, and other products.
Clean up under your appliances like your fridge, toaster, microwave, toaster oven, blender, and other surfaces where food exists.
Clean contaminated food storage containers
If you plan to reuse food storage containers that once had weevils, make sure you rinse them under hot water with soap a few times.
If the container is safe for the dishwasher, run it through the cycle to remove any larvae or weevil eggs.
Discard all infested foods
Not all foods can be cleansed and cleaned from weevils. They’re a persistent pest that can be hard to get rid of.
Some dry goods like cereal, flour, and powders can’t be baked and can’t be rinsed under clean water. You have no choice but to throw these foods out.
Make sure that the bugs don’t have a chance to transfer to other nearby foods. Use a tightly-sealed bag and toss it outdoors so they don’t have a chance to come back.
Weevils can eat their way out of thin plastic bags, so you need to make sure you act quickly.
Stop pests from entering your kitchen
Lastly, you’ll want to perform some basic kitchen repairs to stop weevils and other bugs from coming into your kitchen.
Check around the kitchen and home for damaged weatherstripping around your window seals or patio doors. Repair any damaged vents. Fix any caulk that’s missing. Replace damaged screens in your windows and doors. Caulk up cracks and crevices in your kitchen cabinets, drawers, and pantry.
All of these basic practices can help keep weevils out of your kitchen permanently.
How to get rid of bugs in rice
If you have weevils in your rice, you can safely kill them by doing the following steps. These are some effective ways to keep weevils out of your rice.
Rinse the rice
Take the rice you wish to cook and place it into a large container and run it under hot water. Let the pot fill up with hot water and you stir the rice.
You should start to see some rice bugs floating to the top of the water surface. Remove them by scooping them out with a strainer or by hand. Be careful of the hot water.
Repeat the process 2-3 times. Each time you’ll see fewer and fewer rice bugs. When you see no more, the rice is good to go.
Rinsing works best for whole rice, buckwheat, and barely. You can also use a comb to comb through eh grains to catch any loose bugs.
Cook the rice
After you’ve cleansed and rinsed the rice, you can cook it as normal. This will kill any rice bugs remaining in the rice that you missed earlier.
You should expect to see a few cooked weevils in the finished product, which you can remove by hand before servicing.
Until you can fully secure your rice storage, you’ll continue to have rice bugs appear.
This is why it’s important to transfer uninfested rice to an airtight storage container and always inspect new rice before adding to any existing rice containers.
How to get rid of bugs in grains, cereal, powder, or flour
If you have rice weevils in your rice, powder, or grains, the safest method is to bake the dry goods to kill and get rid of all the pests.
You can either heat or freeze the grains- both methods work well to purify infested grains or to kill any larvae or bugs in newly purchased grains.
If you just bought some rice or other grains and you want to make sure it has no bugs, you can bake or freeze it.
Whether you’re killing weevils in infested dry goods, or you’re trying to kill weevils in a new bag of rice or flour, you can bake it to achieve a 100% kill rate.
Baking should only be used for whole grains, but not for ground grains, flours, or powders. This is one way to get rid of weevils that works well.
- Lay the grains on a baking sheet in a large baking pan.
- Distribute the rice or grains evenly
- Place the entire pan into the oven at 140F for 20 minutes.
- Let it cool.
- Transfer the entire pan to an airtight container.
This will kill any pests that are currently living in your rice or whole grains.
You can freeze both ground and whole grains, flour, powder, rice, cereal, seeds, nuts, or most any other dry goods that you want to get rid of weevils from.
Take your bag of new dry goods that you just bought and place it in the freezer for 72 hours. Take it out afterward and check for any pest activity. Remove any dead bugs by hand. Transfer to a new airtight container.
If you’re using the freezing method to cleanse already infested products, follow the same process.
Is it OK to eat rice with bugs?
Yes, you can eat rice with rice bugs as long as you rinse it a few times and remove them by hand.
After that, be sure to cook the rice at the appropriate temperature to kill off any remaining bugs, larvae, and eggs.
This will ensure that all the rice weevils are dead. You may want to do a once over one last time and remove any rice bugs you can find by hand.
Although they aren’t dangerous to humans and have no positions, finding a bug in your rice isn’t a pleasurable experience.
Is it OK to use flour with weevils?
Yes, as long as you bake the flour to the appropriate temperature.
You can also try removing them by hand before you start baking if you come across any. And then remove them once again after baking.
Use a fine comb to sift through the flour and catch any loose rice weevils. These bugs don’t carry any diseases, but you should still try to remove them.
How to get rid of insects in a rice bag
If you have rice bugs in your rice bag, you’ll want to heat the rice to get rid of them.
Since the weevils are tumbling around in the bag of rice, it’s hard to remove them by hand. The safest and most effective way is to take all of the remaining rice and place it onto a baking pan with a baking sheet.
This works best for smaller batches of infested rice. Bake the rice at 140F for 20 minutes, then remove it and let it cool. Check for dead weevils and remove them by hand.
Place the baked and purified rice into a new airtight container. Do NOT place it back into the previous rice bag, as there may be weevil larvae or adults still in the bag. Dispose of the bag. Always assume the bag is infested.
If you have a large bag of rice, you may have to break it into smaller batches to bake it.
How to get rid of rice weevils in the house
If you have rice weevils in your home, chances are that they escaped the kitchen and have wandered off into you house.
Naturally, these pests aren’t suited for bedroom or living room environments because there’s no food.
However, if you happen to store dry goods (flour, powder, cereal, oats, etc.) in other rooms throughout your home, that could explain why. Wherever you have grains for them to eat, rice weevils can establish a home there.
This is why it’s important to treat weevil problems ASAP because once they mate and lay eggs, they can be difficult to get rid of unless you remove all traces of infested food.
The first step would be to dispose of all the possible food sources they could be eating nearby.
Weevils in the bedroom
Check your bedroom, living room, bathroom, and other rooms for food. These could be table scraps, pet food, or food storage containers. Check for weevils eating up those foods and dispose of them.
Next, you’ll want to purify any other food storage that you’re unsure about.
When in doubt, throw it out. Otherwise, bake or freeze the food using the methods outlined above to kill off any rice bugs hiding in it. Transfer any goods that aren’t infested to airtight metal or thick plastic containers.
Lastly, you’ll want to clean up the other areas of your home. This means your bedroom, living room, and other areas of your home that you notice weevils. Remember that weevils don’t just migrate to other areas randomly.
They stay where the food is. If you notice weevils throughout your home that has no food nearby, it would have hitchhiked on you, your dog, laundry, or something else and ended up there.
They do tend to search for food, but they don’t leave the primary food source that often.
What repels weevils?
There are many natural remedies you can use to repel weevils. Some of the most popular solutions are matchboxes, sunlight, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, neem leaves, and ginger.
You can use a combination of them for a powerful and organic weevil repellent to keep rice bugs out of your kitchen pantry.
How to prevent weevil bugs
After you’ve ridden your kitchen from rice bugs, you’ll want to make sure that you never introduce these bugs into your food storage again.
It’s very difficult to inspect and verify that grains and cereals are 100% free from weevils before buying, as most rice, flours, and cereals contain some degree of pests- it’s just that most of the time, you don’t see it or they haven’t hatched yet.
However, here are some additional tips to prevent future weevil problems:
Inspect the packaging
Never buy any damaged or opened food packaging. Some retailers will mark down food items that are deemed safe to resell at a marginal discount.
The problem with this is that the original container is damaged, dented, or ripped. This means pests can easily enter the original packaging, breed, and feed off the food product.
Weevils and other pests in the retail store can find their way into your next meal if the food packaging has been compromised, so you should always avoid buying products that have damaged labeling or packaging- whether discounted or not. Is your health worth the few dollars you save?
Check for holes, torn corners, punctures, another sign of damage on the package.
Check the product when possible
Buy packages that have transparent or see-through plastic containers that let you see the actual contents. This means you can see the flour, cereal, rice, grains, or other contents.
Check for any moving or dead pests and look for weevils. Shake up the containers to shuffle the contents around and check for any visible bugs before buying.
Buy in bulk
Not only does buying in bulk save you money, but you can also package the food yourself.
Some retailers have a “self-service” area where you can fill up a bag full of dry goods yourself and you’ll pay based on how many pounds or kilograms you scooped. This lets you check the grains and rice yourself for bugs.
Use weevil-proof food containers
After you bring home some dry goods from the store, transfer it to a weevil-proof container.
This means using large, airtight storage bins. You can find these containers that are made from thick plastic and have an airtight seal around the lid to keep your grains and cereals fresh.
You’ll want to use a thick container to protect your food from weevils as plastic bags and thin containers can be damaged.
Weevils can also chew through thin plastic containers, paper, and bags. Store all of your weevil-prone foods in thick containers to safeguard them from future weevil problems.
You’ll want to do this for all foods that are known to be eaten by rice bugs. Weevils will eat grains, cereal, flour, mixes, quinoa, rice, seeds, nuts, and other dry goods.
Here are some additional resources you may find handy:
- Rice Weevil and Granary Weevil – IAState
- ENY261/IG120: Rice Weevil, Sitophilus oryzae – UFL
- Rice Weevil Identification And Control – Rottler
Did you get rid of the rice weevils?
By now, you should have everything you need to know to control, manage, and get rid of rice bugs permanently.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below or send me a message and I’ll try to help you out!
Or if you found this guide to be helpful, let me know. Consider telling a friend!
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.