Q: My kitchen has been invaded by tiny little brownish-black bugs. They have a hard shell that “crunches” when you smash them. They get in cereal, baking goods, etc. They also get into the dog treats and can leave one of those looking real “holey”. What do I need to do to get rid of them?
A: The bugs are probably cigarette beetles or drugstore beetles. They are a common pest of dog food and can move from there to your kitchen. Here is a five-step strategy for fighting them:
1. Remove all food and containers from your pantry. Wipe down each shelf with soapy water to remove food debris. Use a tube of bathroom sealing caulk to seal all cracks at the edges of shelves, top and bottom.
2. Purchase a product called “diatomaceous earth”. Hastings Garden Center and other local nurseries carry it. It is a fine powder, like talcum, which cuts and dries out insects. It is not toxic to humans and can be used around food. Sprinkle a light dusting of diatomaceous earth on the surface of your pantry shelves.
3. Place each food container which is not glass or metal into a resealable plastic bag. Boxes of cereal, rice, raisins … everything that is not in a metal or glass container, must be sealed in a plastic bag. Place the food, in the bags, back in your pantry.
4. One week later, remove the food from the pantry and examine the bags. If beetles are seen inside, discard the food. Keep the food that still seems clean. Two weeks later, re-examine the food bags, discarding those that are infested.
5. You can discontinue storage in plastic bags when you are confident the beetles have been wiped out. If the diatomaceous earth on your shelves is not too unsightly, leave it in your pantry to catch any beetles which come in later.
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