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We have tiny black bugs in the kitchen and pantry. What are they?

Question: I have what looks like tiny little black bugs all over my house. They’re mostly in the pantry and kitchen, but they fly and I’ve found them everywhere. They’re only slightly larger than an egg-laying flea and range from deep brown to black in color. I’ve been finding them in my cereals and other grains, on my counters and floor (even when clean), and even inside my refrigerator! They don’t bite or sting, but they do fly in everyone’s face.

They get into our food (as we are eating) and are seemingly impossible to get rid of. When we try to kill them, they feel hard like a beetle and wriggle as fast as fleas. What are they, and how do I get rid of them naturally?

Answer: You probably are seeing stored product or pantry pests judging from your description. The best course of action is to schedule an inspection by your pest management professional who can provide the identification and location of the source(s) of the infestation.

Once the type of insect is known for sure, then a comprehensive pest management plan can be developed that will include all of the various components needed to get complete control. Knowing that you want to use “natural” control techniques, the plan will emphasize removing and discarding all infested items, plus deep cleaning to remove the insect’s food sources in the pantry and other places. This may mean taking everything out of the cabinets and drawers.

Finding the infested material and the source of the infestation is the key to getting them eliminated. If the cabinets and pantry are cluttered, discard whatever is old and no longer needed. Once the cabinets are empty, vacuum them very well. This will remove any hidden insects and all debris. Repeat this in about a week to 10 days. Remember that any missed source is likely to result in a re-infestation as time goes by.

It is important to inspect the products you buy at the grocery store to be certain infested items are not being introduced into your home. Avoid buying packages that are broken or opened. Store foods in sealed containers, if feasible, until the problem is resolved.

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