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What spices will keep rice and flour critter free?

I have heard certain spices can be added to rice to keep the moths and various critters out sort of like "moth balls" and cedar do for our closets. Is this an urban legend or does it really work? What spices are best?


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  1. Hi Sid- I have never heard this, although it may be true.

    The only thing that has worked for me is to store these things in the freezer. Some glass containers with secure fits/gaskets around the lid may help, but I just started storing all my flour and grains in the freezer. I've not had a problem with rice getting critters.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cheesemonger

      Like Cheesemonger I keep flour, grains, etc. in the fridge or freezer depending on how much space I have. Freezer is preferable, especially for flour. Rice does fine in the fridge, but then I'm not storing 25 lb bags of it, not sure what size you buy.

    2. I've heard bay leaves can keep away pests, but I can't personally tell you if that's true. People recommend just tucking a few bay leaves in with your flour or rice.

      1. Have heard bay leaves work, but wonder if their flavor gets into flour/rice? I don't keep flour, rice, dried beans, or pastas in anything that isn't air-tight.

        1. I've kept a big bay leaf in my flour for years and years, and yes, it works. I just drop one or two on the top of the flour before I put the lid back on the plastic container in which the flour is kept, so it's easy to just pluck them out when I need to use the flour.

          And no, it doesn't impart any discernible flavor to the flour.

          I've also used wrappers from Doublemint gum -- they work nearly as well.

          Airtight will only work to an extent -- the eggs and/or larvae are already in the flour when you buy it, so it's not a matter of keeping bugs out.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842


            I keep whole bay leaves in my rice and flour containers. I buy 20lb bags, so what I do is pour half the rice/flour into the container, throw in couple bay leaves, then add the rest of the rice and add another bay leaf on top before closing the lid.

            1. re: sunshine842

              My mother used the bay leaves too. I keep everything in sealed glass or plastic containers, but I've stopped with the bay leaves because I find I don't use the flour fast enough to keep the bay leaves from imparting a flavor. It's true the eggs are likely in the flour already, though.

              1. re: sunshine842

                If the eggs are already in the flour, why bother with bay leaf to keep them out?

                1. re: escondido123

                  I don't even pretend to know why, but if I keep a bay leaf in the flour, I don't have weevils.

                  Does it kill them? Keep them from hatching?

                  No idea -- all I know is that it works.

              2. Freeze all your grains, rice, beans for 3 days. That kills the eggs. Then store airtight to keep other bugs from getting in.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Becca Porter

                  I just keep mine in the freezer until I'm ready to use them. Look, Ma! No bugs!

                  1. re: Becca Porter

                    This works for me. I had some weird beetle and moth infestation once and never want to again. I freeze a few days and ziploc. I too have heard of the bay leaf trick but was afraid you would taste it. Nice to know it works

                    1. re: Becca Porter

                      I'm wondering, does the dampness from temporarily having it in the freezer cause any issues with mold?

                      1. re: Atomic76

                        Doesn't refrigerators and freezers tend to remove moisture? As a result, the need for a drip pan under the fridge?

                        1. re: yopauly

                          cold items taken out of the fridge end up with condensation inside and out, just like your ice-cold Coke.

                    2. They only spice I know of that is foolproof is Orkin.
                      Completely air tight lids and move somewhere with very low humidity.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: yopauly

                        And I would never serve any chapulines without a dash of Orkin!

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Mmmmmmmm! lol Talk about a chemical aftertaste.

                      2. Thanks everyone. It sounds like some Bay leaves are worth a try. I have some Ball canning jars coming so, I think I will try a bay leaf in each of them see what happens!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Sid Post

                          How much do you buy and how long are you keeping flour and rice that this is a problem? I buy flour in 5 lb bags and rice in 15 lb bags and we use it up quickly enough that we have never had a bug/moth problem with them. Pasta on the other hand that has been sitting in the back of the pantry for who knows how long.....

                          1. re: Bkeats

                            purely personal observation, but I've found that the brand makes an enormous difference in critters in the pasta.

                            I've never had a problem with Barilla pasta. Storebought pasta will be crawling with weevils within 2 weeks.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              "I've never had a problem with Barilla pasta. Storebought pasta will be crawling with weevils within 2 weeks."

                              If you don't buy Barilla in a store, then where do you get it?

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Are they in there and hatch out? Or do they get inside the pasta from the outside? I have never had this happen.

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    they're already in there -- federal regulations allow a certain percentage of detritus into foodstuffs -- the eggs are in that percentage.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Yes, I know, but they don't ever hatch. I am curious that all these posters are having them hatch. Just seems strange to me.

                                      Sunshine, you said down thread that you get weevils in some pastas in 2weeks. I have never seen that and am curious as to what conditions cause this.

                                      1. re: sedimental

                                        it was the store-brand pasta -- no other pasta has ever done it as regularly or as quickly as that particular brand. Obviously, I don't buy that brand any more---I don't even shop that store any more because of multiple issues with freshness and food safety. I only recall one other incident -- and that was when an open box of pasta (different brand, different house in a different climate) fell down behind the lazy susan in a corner cabinet -- I have NO idea how long it was back there...but I noticed the weevils when I opened the box to see how much was left -- so off to the trash it went.

                                        The only time I've ever had weevils is if the box (flour or pasta -- can't recall bugs in anything else) sat in the pantry for extended periods -- weeks or even months, unused, and it will happen regardless of whether it's in the original paper bag or in an airtight plastic container.

                                        I do feel the urge to stress that I keep my kitchen at least as clean as the average hound, and have no issues with any other sort of bugs of any kind...and even the weevils are a rare appearance.

                        2. Bay Leaves work for me. I tape them on the lid of a glass jar - mostly Ball canning jars, I haven't had any problems with imparting flavor, but I don't like to buy huge quantities of anything, so nothing sits too long. Sometimes during the holidays, I will have a lot of flour left, then I will put it in the freezer. I started using glass jars way back when I was a student living in a cheap rental that had mice.

                          1. I use dried chili pepper with rice. 3-4 per container keeps bugs away and no influence on the flavour of the rice.

                            1. Is this a regional issue at all? Like warmer climates? I have never found bugs in pantry items in all my years. Maybe once or twice in a prepared product past the expiration date.

                              I am sure that I keep my flours for too long. I smell and taste them for rancid oils, but I have never found any bugs/worms inside. If I think it smells off or to know I have had it for over a year, I toss it.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: sedimental

                                Part of me wants to say that yes, warmer climates create a hospitable environment, but since most houses and stores are kept at constant temperatures I'm not sure this is really a factor.

                                I've never, ever seen a worm in flour, rice, or pasta here in Florida -- not ever -- only these guys: http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resourc... (first one on the list


                                There's a photo there showing the grub larval stage, but I've yet to see one (and I've looked if I see the adult weevils).

                                They're not harmful, but not very appetizing, visually or texturally, not to mention the ick factor.

                                In lean times, I've put the flour in a warm oven for a half-hour and then sifted well -- but that was before I discovered bay leaves.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  This thread makes it sound so common...bugs in the food inside your house. I am curious if it is more common in different climates.

                                  I don't have too many bugs inside my house to begin with due to climate.

                                  Makes me want to go through my pantry right now!!! Lol

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    There is climate to be sure, and also you are going to attract more bugs and critters with whole grains and whole grain flours. Them critters knows what's good.

                                2. re: sedimental

                                  I think it has to do with humidity. I live in a very dry climate and haven't seen pantry bugs since I left Maryland.