Flour Bugs

December 19, 2003

I think that one of the best tests of a cook is not how things taste when everything works, but how well they recover when something goes wrong.

I was making a caraway rye bread for dinner tonight (more on that later) and things went wrong.

Flour bugs are, well, bugs that live in flour. Bug eggs make it through all the sifting, sorting, and filtering because they are about the same size as the flour particles. In coarsely ground flour, they have an easier time of it. After a while, they hatch and then bugs go through a life cycle in your cupboards. The only thing you can do about them is 1, keep your flour in a sealed container and 2, use it faster than the bugs cycle.

I opened the coarse-ground rye flour and, as I was scooping and levelling, found flour bugs crawling around. They were still in the crawly phase, not the flying egg-laying phase, so I just dumped the bag of flour and made a note to myself not to buy rye flour until I was ready to use it - no more paper bags of rye flour sitting around waiting to be opened.

But, what to do about dinner? Last night I had seethed the caraway seeds in water; the caraway seeds, sourdough, and sour salt were already in the bread machine; tonight's dinner wants strong bread.

I went to the cupboard, grabbed the bag of buckwheat flour that I keep around for pancakes, and made a caraway sourdough buckwheat loaf. It might be edible, or we might be eating stale kaiser rolls with dinner. But, I tried to recover.

The other key to being a good cook, especially on the home level, is a willingness to try something new and throw it out if it is terrible. Knowing that your new dish might turn out to be a pizza lowers the stress on the cook and, paradoxically, means that the new dish is more likely to work out because the cook will be more willing to mess with it.

So, tonight we will be starting the holidays with a very strange loaf of bread. I wonder if it will be any good.

Posted by Red Ted at December 19, 2003 12:25 PM | TrackBack

Are those bugs that live in flour or dehydrated
potato flakes, or any dry ground substance,
harmful? Because my husband refuses to use anything ,and throws away alot of food that has
these practically microscopic bugs crawling
around in our cubboards. It doesn't bother me
because we eat alot of fresh vegetables and fruit
that contains bugs also. We just don't always see
them. I clean out the cubboards and they always
come back. So, phooey! I'll just eat them, if they are harmless. loretta_siegrist@hotmail.com

Posted by: Loretta Siegrist at March 30, 2005 10:24 PM

I do not eat them.

I have no idea if they are "edible" insects like some locusts and ants. I suspect that they will be more disconcerting than dangerous, but don't bill the stomach pumping to me if I am wrong.

Posted by: Ted at March 30, 2005 10:45 PM

how long before theyh start to fly? I have a ton of little "beetle like and tiny jumpy fly like bugs (not fleas) and found remnants of bugs in my "open" bag of flour. they are all driving me crazy!!!!HELP!!!

Posted by: evelyn at May 30, 2005 03:34 PM

Back in the old days,weevils in flour were part of life and actually, it's a good sign. It tells me that there's not a bunch of insecticides in that flour. I just do what my moma and gramma did. Got a flour sieve and made sure nobody else was looking. I throw the bugs down the sink, drown 'em out and go ahead with my cooking. Might not be a bad idea to have a glass of wine while you're dealing with bugs and a picky family!

Posted by: Gwen at May 31, 2005 09:16 PM

I also have been tomented by those pesty flour bugs, and am trying to deal with them right now. My fiancee and I have been eating them even though my mother insists we should not, and just throw out the food. Hasn't killed us yet, although, anything we do eat them in we are baking for a long enough time that hopefully they won't do anything harmful to us. We currently have half of our grocies sitting in the freezer as precautions as to what those bugs can spread into. Only time will tell if we've actually solved the problem and are finally rid of those nasty bugs.

Posted by: Lacey at August 8, 2005 02:10 AM

I too have this problem, the thing is i believe that the bugs may be leaving their eggs on the glue that closes the packages such as flour bags. I bought new flour and immediately put it in the freezer (along with a new package of sugar) and found last night that there were flour bugs caught in the crevices of the foldings where the package is usually opened.

Posted by: Ruth at April 11, 2006 10:30 AM

It drives me crazy too. When I tell my friends about these bugs, they ask if I'm cleaning up the kitchen properly.....Of course I am! Yesterday I found one wrapped up in Vegetable boullion cube. What is the solution? I found some in my sons bag of cheerios the other day....this is getting ridiculus!

Posted by: Erin at June 24, 2006 03:49 PM

While putting away the flour that I used in a cake I discovered, to my horror, that it was infested with tiny, black, crawling creatures. I had not discovered them while using the flour in the cake. I had planned to use the cake for my daughter's school lunch. But I guess now I have to throw it away! What a waste!

Posted by: Debeshi Bakshi at July 3, 2006 02:30 AM

I have this problem as well. These bugs are not the fault of the homeowner as they usually enter the house when you buy a product that is already infested. They can be dealt with. Check out this link for tips to rid yourself of these pests.


Posted by: Christian at July 29, 2006 06:46 PM

On the site it says that we should discard any infested food, but does anyone know why? Are these bugs dangerous? Or just an annoyance?

Posted by: Janet at August 23, 2006 09:47 AM
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