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The Rice Weevil is a type of Grain Weevil. Grain Weevils are a family of tiny beetle species that have evolved to feed on whole grains and they are a common pest of stored grain and seeds worldwide. Grain Weevils commonly include 3 species of small weevils: The Rice Weevil, Granary (Wheat) Weevil and the Maize Weevil.
They will bore a very small hole in a grain of rice or corn (for example), and lay a single egg. The egg develops inside the grain seed and becomes a white, grub-like larvae, and it then grows to emerge as an adult in about 30 days. Adult rice weevils can survive for up to 2 years. They destroy the seeds they infest but are otherwise harmless to humans and do not bite or carry disease.
For reference purposes, let’s discuss the rice weevils (pictured on this page). They are 1/8th inch long and have slender, hard-shelled bodies that are brown to reddish brown in color. Females lay 2-6 eggs per day and up to 300 eggs over their lifetime. The female weevil uses her strong mandibles to chew a hole into a grain kernel and deposit a single egg. The hole is then sealed with a gelatinous secretion.
The best method of controlling this pest requires locating and eliminating the infested grain. Small quantities of grain can be “saved” by controlling the weevils with heat or cold. Heating grain to 140 degrees F for 15 minutes or freezing at 0 degrees F for 3 days will kill all stages of weevils in the grain. Larger quantities may require disposal or professional fumigation.
As a precaution against reinfestation, you may want to store susceptible foods in sealable glass, metal or heavy plastic containers or in the refrigerator or freezer until you are convinced the infestation is gone.
Cupboards or shelves holding infested items should be emptied and thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned, paying special attention to cracks and corners. Washing shelves with detergents, will not have any effect on this pest as the eggs are laid inside the grains.
As with other pantry pest, insecticides are not recommended for controlling insects in stored food cupboards. Insecticides should never be applied in way that would allow direct contact with food, food preparation surfaces or food utensils.
Pantry moth spray and insecticides made with essential oils and natural ingredients are a good alternative to chemical pesticides. But again, against this particular pest the best treatment is food disposal or temperature treatments.