Q: I have tiny brown beetles everywhere in my pantry! They crawl on the shelves and get in my rice. What should I do to evict them?
A: The insects you have are called drugstore beetles. They are a common pest of stored foods. Here is one 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 (available in a tube from any hardware store) to seal all cracks at the edges of shelves and around floor molding.
2. Purchase a product called “diatomaceous earth”. This product will be a bit more difficult to find but one local store that carries it is Hastings Garden Center. It is a fine powder, like talcum, which 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. Seal each food container which is not metal in a gallon Ziploc bag. Boxes of cereal, rice, raisins … everything that is not in a metal or glass container, must be sealed in a plastic bag. Place your food, in the bags, back in your pantry.
4. One week later, remove the food from the pantry and examine the Ziploc bags. If beetles are seen inside, discard the food. Replace the food that seems clean. Two weeks later, re-examine the food bags, discarding those that are infested.
5. After this treatment, any new food that you purchase must be sealed in bags for storage. However, you can discontinue storage in plastic bags when you are confident the beetles have been wiped out and are not in your pantry anymore. 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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