Sawtoothed Grain Beetles

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Oryzaephilus surinamensis (L.)


What Do They Look Like?
sawtoothed grain beetle image

The sawtoothed grain beetle is a major pest of stored food products in homes and commercial facilities.

  • Length: It is about 2.5 to 3 mm long.
  • Body: The body is flat. There are six tiny projections on each side, just behind the head. These projections give the beetle its name. It helps to use a magnifying glass to see them.

How Did I Get Sawtoothed Grain Beetles?

The pests usually get into goods when they are in production or on their way to stores or homes. Tainted items on grocery store shelves can lead to a mass infestation in the local area.

In homes, sawtoothed grain beetle problems begin when residents bring infested food into the kitchen. The insects quickly spread to other bagged or boxed products. In their adult form, sawtoothed grain beetles may even leave the pantry and appear in other areas of the house.

How Serious Are Sawtoothed Grain Beetles?

Beetle-infested items often cause mold problems due to moisture buildup. Aside from tainting stored goods, sawtoothed grain beetles do not cause many issues for homeowners. The pests cannot bite or sting and do not infest fabrics. However, it is crucial to identify and remove all affected products to prevent reinfestation.

Signs of a Sawtoothed Grain Beetle Infestation

Homeowners with sawtoothed grain beetles usually detect their presence when they find small beetles in pantry products or crawling on surfaces like counters or shelves.

How Do I Get Rid of Sawtoothed Grain Beetles?

What You Can Do

Try these methods to help get rid of the pests:

  • Throw away infested food - Empty cabinets and pantries and check every package
  • Vacuum - Clean the empty shelves with a vacuum to remove any insects and food particles.
  • Practice proper food storage habits - Store new food products in tightly sealed glass or plastic containers. Store pet food in containers with a lid.
What Orkin Does

Inspection and cleaning are key steps in eliminating sawtoothed grain beetles. Insecticide application is the final step. The application should be made into cracks and crevices. The object is to eliminate any insects that might be hiding. To avoid misapplication, call your local pest control professional.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

The sawtoothed grain beetle is not attracted to light and it does not fly.

What Do They Eat?

The sawtoothed grain beetle does not infest whole grain. Its flat body allows it to enter tiny cracks and infest broken kernels. Sawtoothed grain beetles infest:

  • Birdseeds
  • Cereals
  • Chocolates
  • Dried fruits
  • Flour
  • Pastas
  • Pet foods
  • Nuts
  • Tobacco
  • Yeast


Life Cycle

The female beetle deposits eggs in cracks in food or on ground food, like flour. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed and grow. When the larvae are ready to change to adult beetles, they make a cocoon from food particles.

In warm, humid conditions, the entire life cycle, from egg to mature adult, takes about two months. There can be several generations per year.

More Information

The sawtoothed grain beetle’s scientific name is Oryzaephilus surinamensis (L.). It means "rice-loving from Suriname." The name comes from from the fact that the first specimens were found in Suriname.