The kitchen is the one place you need to be sanitary at all times but it’s also the most likely to attract pests. If you have tiny bugs in your kitchen, don’t panic, there are plenty of ways to get rid of them.
A pest infestation in your kitchen can range from ants to beetles and everything in between. If you want to get rid of tiny bugs in your kitchen, you’ll have to identify the problem and then treat it. Luckily, that’s easy to do even if you’re not familiar with insects.
Identification of Little Bugs in Kitchen or Pantry
If you have tiny bugs in your kitchen or pantry, identifying them is the first step to getting rid of them. This list of common pantry bugs includes insects most likely to be the culprits of your infestation.
Ants are small, fast, and very easily recognizable. We probably don’t even have to tell you that they have 6 legs, a distinct 3-part body, and long antennae. But, ants are one of the most common kitchen or pantry insects. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most difficult to get rid of. You’ll likely need an insecticide specially formulated for ants and a sealant to get rid of the entryway to your home.
Termites are often small, black, and can flood your kitchen. If they do, getting rid of them will be essential to protecting your home and foundation, as these wood-boring insects can cause significant damage in very little time. If they’ve moved into your kitchen, removing them should be relatively easy, with the right treatment. Termites look like ants except they don’t have a joint in the middle of the abdomen and the antennae are normally straight. Many termites are also softer and plumper looking and are more likely to have wings.
Spider beetles are small brown or black beetles with long spindly legs. They nest in kitchens to feed on food products – especially flour, unsealed bread, and waste in the trash. If you have an infestation, it’s likely because of open, poorly sealed, or spilled food.
Skin & Carpet Beetles
Skin and carpet beetles are small, oval-to-round beetles that feed on dead skin, detritus, and waste. If you have unsealed food, like flour or an open trash can, you can easily attack them. These beetles are harmless. However, once they lay eggs, you could end up with a swarm of writhing, small black beetle larvae. Luckily, skin and carpet beetles are easy to get rid of.
Weevils, known as wheat weevils, grain weevils, and granary weevils feed on cereals and grains. They’re also incredibly common. If you’re finding small, elongated black bugs in your kitchen, chances are, it’s a weevil. These tiny bugs look like miniature beetles with long suckers. They also tend to show up in grain products such as dry flour and oats. You’ll have to get rid of contaminated products. However, you can keep them away by choosing sealable storage containers for cereal and grains.
Flour beetles and the very similar mealworm beetles congregate around trash, open flour, open grain products (rolled oats, etc.), and trash. They’re larger than weevils but otherwise look very similar. However, these small black beetles have mandibles rather than an elongated snout – making them easy to differentiate up close. Like skin and carpet beetles, flour beetles can lay significant numbers of eggs which can be a problem. However, they’re also easy to get rid of.
If your kitchen is full of tiny black bugs that roll into a ball when threatened, you have a pill bug infestation. The good news is, these harmless bugs are easy to get rid of. They also feed on rotting vegetation and plant matter. Getting rid of them is relatively easy – providing you can locate the source of where they’re getting into the house.
Tiny black flies or gnats can be a plague in your home throughout the year. These insects are colloquially known as fruit flies but can include any of dozens of species. These gnats often feed on fruit sugars, rotting vegetation, and on decaying plant matter. That means they can come from fruit bowls, plants in your window, water sitting out, or any of a number of other locations. The good news is, you get rid of the source, and you get rid of the fruit flies.
While most silverfish are grey, as the name would suggest, plenty of species are black. These tiny, long black insects are also hard to get rid of. In most cases, they live in walls, under counters, and in cool, dark spaces between walls and foundations. They might also feed on books, stored food, and even clothing. The good news is that they are also harmless. However, they can be unpleasant, and you might want to get rid of them.
Are Pantry Bugs Harmful If Eaten?
Most insects you find in your pantry are harmless. However, that depends on what the insect is. For example, if you eat an ant, it could bite the inside of your mouth or throat, resulting in discomfort or an anaphylactic reaction. Silverfish and pill bugs are not toxic. However, they may have picked up bacteria or contaminates from your floor. Eventually, you shouldn’t eat bugs because they aren’t sanitary, and you could get sick. However, they are not expressly toxic.
How To Get Rid of Bugs in the Kitchen: 3 Effective Strategies
Getting rid of tiny bugs in kitchen spaces can be difficult. That’s especially true if you’re dealing with insects living under the foundation. However, these 3 effective strategies will get you started. In most cases, you want to try all three strategies.
Find the Source
Where are the bugs coming from? If you can identify the primary source, you can take steps to prevent it. For example, termites and ants usually come from foundations – so look for cracks and holes along baseboards and walls. Corners, spots around wall outlets, and water and sewage pipes or drains are often culprits.
If you have weevils or flour beetles, identifying the source can be a lot more difficult. For example, you may have simply purchased a bag of flour with microscopic weevil eggs in it. While that’s unlikely, it’s also difficult to trace the source for pests of this nature. In this case, you’re better off taking steps to get rid of them than to identify where they came from.
That’s especially true in the case of cockroach and ant colonies, which can nest under cupboards in the space between the floor of the cupboard and the floor. If you have persistent bug problems, you may want to lift up your counters and see what’s underneath.
Use an Insect Poison
Most hardware stores sell poison to get rid of or to prevent hundreds of different types of insects. Many of these insect killers also work against different types of pests – which can be useful even if you don’t know what it is infesting your kitchen. Buy a quantity based on the size of your kitchen and the size of the infestation. It’s also crucial to always follow the directions on the packaging.
Insect poisons are toxic to helpful insects that we need for the ecology as well. So, you always want to avoid using insecticides around water sources or outdoors – unless the product is specifically rated for doing so.
A thorough cleaning can get rid of many types of small insects in your kitchen. For example, if you have weevils or meal beetles, the answer is to simply throw away the infected products. Go through everything in your kitchen and make sure everything is clean. Stripping out your kitchen, moving the counters, moving the refrigerator, and giving everything a good, deep clean can rid you of bugs for a long time.
- Check cabinets in the back and in corners to ensure bugs are not eating the wood
- Clean out the plumbing in the kitchen sink, especially if insects frequently climb up through the drain
- Pay special attention to corners and spaces behind the stove or cabinets
That’s also true in the case of fruit flies. These insects lay eggs on sugary and wet surfaces. You might have them because you have plants or because you keep a bowl of bananas on the counter. In the case of plants, you can simply use sticky tape or a sugar water trap to catch the flies, repot your plants to rid yourself of the larvae.
3 Tips to Prevent Tiny Bugs in Kitchen
If you want bugs gone for good, these 3 tips should help. However, you may want to take steps to identify what the problem is before taking action.
Seal Walls and Spaces
Kitchen and pantry bugs normally get in through holes and cracks in the kitchen. Large gaps between the kitchen floor and the cupboards could provide a haven for bugs like cockroaches and silverfish. Taking time to thoroughly seal your kitchen can greatly reduce your problems with insects. For example, if you have ant problems, sealing the floor and corners with silicone or a floor sealant will solve the problem.
On the other hand, many bugs and insects get in via open doors and windows. You don’t likely want to start closing those. However, you may want to invest in screens to limit bugs getting into your home.
- Use expanding foam to fill large holes
- Seal corners, small cracks, and seams (e.g., wall joins, cabinets touching floors, etc.) with silicone or a similar sealant
- Professional services are available to offer sealing services, which may get you a better result
- If you have bugs in the cabinets, you might also want to treat the wood
Package Food in Sealed Containers
Food often draws insects and bugs. For example, many pantry pests are drawn by unsealed bags of flour, pasta, or even beans. Simply throwing away infected packages and replacing them can rid you of your problem. However, you want to ensure that you store future products in sealed jars. Tupperware is a cheap and effective solution. You might also want to choose glass jars. However, it’s important to ensure any container you choose has a seal, or a rubber ring on it, to make sure it’s actually keeping bugs out.
Opt for a Sealed Trash Can
Trash cans, like unsealed food, draw a lot of bugs. If you have an open or poorly closing trash can, you could be drawing in insects. Unfortunately, those are hard to prevent if you have open doors and windows. Instead, your best option is to buy a sealing trash can. Here, you want an option that eliminates odors or offers protection from insects. Otherwise, it’s not enough to stop small insects from getting into the trash.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions about getting rid of tiny bugs in your kitchen, this FAQ should help.
How long do pantry bugs live?
That depends on the pantry bug in question. Fruit flies live 40-50 days on average. An ant can live for years. In most cases, your larger priority is not how long the insect lives, but in disrupting the lifecycle. So, the easiest way to get rid of any insect is to kill it before it matures to an adult and lays eggs.
Where do pantry bugs come from?
Pantry bugs can come from almost anywhere. They might come in with you on your clothing. They might come in on poorly sealed food. You might have cracks or poorly sealed windows or doors. Or, you might have a long-term infestation resulting from poor sealing that happened in the past.
Should I throw out flour with weevils?
Yes. While weevils are not necessarily toxic to consume, they can carry pathogens which could make you sick. In addition, weevils defecate in flour. Therefore, while it may be safe to eat it, you probably don’t want to. Throw out any infected flour to be sure.
Small bugs in your kitchen could be any of a dozen different bugs. However, getting rid of most bugs means cleaning, sealing your space, and maybe using an insecticide. That will, of course, change depending on what the infestation is. Either way, good luck clearing up the insects in your house.