The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

tiny bugs in my wheat

spsq's picture

tiny bugs in my wheat

Good day, all!  I have a grinder (best purchase ever!) and so I make all my own flour.  After purchasing, I keep it in large sealed plastic ice cream buckets.

The last time I opened a bucket, I noticed several tiny bugs attached to the measuring cup.  I washed it off, but every time I open the bucket, there are more bugs attached to the cup.  They are very tiny, and nothing "flies" around when I shake the wheat, but every time the bucket sits, there are more bugs to be found.

Do I have to discard all the wheat?  Do I have to wash it, then somehow dry it (how?) before grinding it?   Or would one just use it as is, giving it a good shake before grinding?

golgi70's picture

Throw it away before you contaminate other grains in your home.  


holds99's picture

I had this problem a few years ago.  FWIW, I suggest taking the container outside and emptying it into a plastic bag and seal the bag.  Then put the plastic bag containing the contaminated flour into the garbage can and put the lid on the garbage can securely.  Be sure to thoroughly wash the contaminated container with soap and hot water to kill any remaining larvae before using the container again.

ninofiol's picture
cp3o's picture

Hi spsq, my mom taught me to shove a bay leaf into my containers of flour. It keeps the pests away and doesn't affect the quality of the flour.


Nickisafoodie's picture

I use them too: I put 5-10 leaves in a brown paper lunch bag.  fold over once and staple the bag shut.  Place on the top of your 5 gallon pail.  change leaves once per year (i.e. when they lose the aromatics).  Never had a problem...

hanseata's picture

Interesting, I'm always worried about infestations, but I only heard about the flour moth, yet.

I will definitely follow your advice with the bay leaves.



possum-liz's picture

If you've got room in your freezer, put the grain in there for a couple of weeks or until you use it. It's supposed to kill the little blighters. The eggs are everywhere that flour/grain is common, so freezing and quick turnover are the best remedies for me. I use bay leaves as well.

spsq's picture

I think I'll dispose of this batch of wheat, and use the bay leaf approach on the next batch.  Which I'll put in the freezer for a week before putting in containers.

Can I just dump it outside or will it infect other plants?

possum-liz's picture

If you've got chickens or birds around they'll love the treat (with extra protein?). Otherwise compost it. Just get it out of the house.

Janetcook's picture

I get flour moths.  Start as a small work and then turn into small moths.  Happens with my rye berries only but the infestations are huge.  Just clumps of the grain are effected which are easy to scoop out and toss.  When I have gotten all the 'clumps' out I put the remainder into plastic bags and freeze it.  This kills and remaining eggs.  

For the moths I buy "Pantry Moth' fly traps at my local Ace Hardware store.  Work like a charm. 

Last year I had many more moths then this year.

Good luck with the bay leaf idea.  Sounds like a really simple solution.

Take Care,


subfuscpersona's picture

Like other posters, I've read about using bay leaves to discourage pests in whole grain or flour milled from whole grain. I even tried it - many times - over several years. However, I did get grain moths in one kind of grain despite the bay leaf prevention.

My conclusion? Does not work. Adding bay leaves is simply an idea that has been mindlessly repeated so many times on the internet that it has acquired the patina of truth.

Save your bay leaves for cooking.

carefreebaker's picture

Why can't the grain be returned to place of purchase if bugs are found in it?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

They might if you had just purchased it, not switched containers and have proof of that purchase.  ...and if the expire date is not passed.  

Always look over the package and bag when purchasing and check dates to ensure fresh flour.  Sometimes it can't be helped and a large fine sieve will help to sift out weevils before using.  Tape down the lids of the buckets to stop bugs infesting other grains products and use up quickly.  Freezing or chilling the flour until you can use it would be a good idea.  Take notes  (save the labels) to include the special numbers on large sacks of flour, and avoid purchasing more flour with the same numbers.  Look for fresher bags.  Keeping the flour dry helps.  Slipping a small cloth bag of active charcoal into the bin may help but it will not remove or kill the bugs that have already hatched. 

I remember seeing a full grown trees in Barbados and a Bay leaf laurel bushes growing in Italy.  Even had a small bush myself.  Plenty of bugs and creatures had made their home there.  I don't believe for one second that bay leaves repel bugs.  

Old newsprint on the other hand does repel bugs due to the petroleum based ink. (Not sure you want that flavor in the bread.)  So does proper vacuum packing grain/flour in jars or cans. 


spsq's picture

Not in it's original container, no receipt anymore, had it for a couple of months already.

Next time I'm checking right away!

carefreebaker's picture

I would report this problem to wherever you bought the grain, especially if you buy from them all the time. Maybe others bought grain from same lot and have complained. Who knows they might have answers for you and a rememdy or a credit toward next purchase. Worth a call.'s picture

This is a quote i found on How to Properly Store Bulk Wheat .Diatomaceous Earth: This stuff is great. We think it is the one of the easiest and most effective methods for grain storage. Diatomaceous earth is made up of single celled algae. It is not harmful to humans, but it does kill bugs. It literally scrapes the bug to death on contact. It sounds gross, but the bugs are so small, you won’t notice them anyway, and this is an easy, organic, and harmless way to ensure that they don’t eat your wheat.

108 breads's picture
108 breads

I am about to embark on grinding my own flour and the thought of bugs in the house is creepy. I believe bugs should know that houses and apartments are off limits. (I feel the same way about deer in clearly urban areas, but they don't listen either.) It won't hurt to try the bay leaf idea, to freeze (which I do anyway with whole grain flours), and to remember to look up this conversation when the grinder arrives. I want to remember the Diatomaceous Earth algae. Thanks for the information. 

I'm actually feeling a bit anxious about taking on the grinding. I can deal with a farmers market because the food is in the state I can recognize it, but grinding means a whole new level of purchasing and knowledge. Now add keeping a look out for bugs. Hope I am not in over my head.

Dreasbaking's picture

You'll be fine. Pantry moths can come from grocery store products also, not just whole grains. Buy from a reputable source and store everything in air tight containers.  I repurpose food safe buckets that I get cheep from my local donut store.  Look for a gamma seal lid at your local hardware store and you have a great storage container for your grains.  

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

With a big turnover then far better than a shop where the flour can be sitting around for many months. 

(Actually wrote 'bug turnover' at first)

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

I only buy enough flour that I can use up fairly quickly

embth's picture

Bugs are one reason old recipes directed the baker to sift the flour several times…. you sifted to remove the weevils.  Flour today is not bug free.  Insect bits (measured in parts per million) exist in flour even with our modern cleaning methods.  Bugs in food may "gross us out" but generally poses no health risk.