Flour weevils: how to avoid them

I was at my mother-in-law’s house one afternoon several years ago, and she went to open a bag of flour for something she was cooking. When she opened the bag, she jumped back in revulsion and declared that the flour had weevils and was therefore no good. WEEVILS?! I had never heard of such a thing, but when I looked into the bag there was no mistaking it: inside there were lots of tiny little grub-type creatures wiggling around inside. It repulsed me as well, especially to think that it would be all to easy to slip these into your cooking or baking undetected. My mother-in-law said that she would have to check all the flour in the cupboard now in case they had got into any other packs, and pointed out that this is why you should really store your flour in sealed jars.

Well, of course, when I moved into my first real flat (post-student accommodation) and started building up my kitchen, one of the first things I bought were some kilner jars to store my flour. EVERY time I use flour now I think of the weevils, although touch wood I’ve never had any yet. However, when I decided to write this post in the interest of public safety, I did a bit of research into these weevils and boy am I glad I did! After my first encounter with the weevils I had convinced myself that they just sort of “flew in” and settled into your flour, and therefore my nice, airtight jars would keep the nasty weevils away. OH HOW WRONG I WAS. Weevils are apparently present in most flour, as the grain will invariably have some fauna on it, although the good news is that there ARE things that you can do to avoid a weevil infestation.

1) When you buy flour, put it in the freezer for at least 96 hours before using it, and then store it in the usual way. This will prevent any weevil eggs from hatching.

2) Store flour in sealed containers. This will prevent the migration of any weevils that hatch to other items in your cupboards. Weevils feed on anything starchy so beans, pasta, cereals etc can all get infested with weevils!

3) Allegedly bay leaves can keep them at bay (erm, no pun intended!), so putting some in your cupboards can deter the weevils.

4) The quicker you use the flour, the less likely it is to develop weevils. It takes a while for the weevils to hatch and grow, so the quicker you use it the less chance there is of encountering the little blighters. If you buy flour and it’s got weevils in, or gets them very soon after you’ve bought it, then take it back because it must have been old stock! Buy small bags of flour if you don’t use it very much.

Obviously anything made from grains is likely to contain some form of weevils and you can’t really avoid eating them. BUT, I would much rather take the relevant precautions to either stop the eggs hatching or stop the weevils spreading than have to deal with a full-blown infestation, and have to throw away the contents of my cupboards and disinfect the entire kitchen. Not to mention have to deal with a bag full of wriggling bugs. Now I just need to make some space in the freezer…

Some good links on how to deal with weevils:
Bugs in Your Cupboards
Rentokil – Insects Found in Food (be warned: if you visit this site you may never eat anything again..)