Pantry mites are less than 1 mm in size and translucent or light buff to brown in color. They feed on flour, milk powder, sugar, corn meal, semolina, macaroni and cereal products, cheese, dried fruit, pet food and even the stuffing of those wheat pain-relieving pads that are heated in the microwave.
Flour mites contaminate grain and flour by allergens and they transfer pathogenic microorganisms.
Foodstuffs acquire a sickly sweet smell and an unpalatable taste. When fed infested feeds, animals show reduced feed intake, diarrhoea, inflammation of the small intestine, and impaired growth.
Pigs have their live-weight gain, feed-to-gain ratio, and nitrogen retention markedly reduced by infested feeds. more...
The food itself is not the culprit and neither is poor hygiene. They are attracted by warm, damp, dark places. Kitchen cupboards are ideal environments, especially in summer. They are more often than not introduced into the house through a contaminated source from the supermarket.
They are harmless, even if eaten.
When you detect mites in your dry goods, check every single place where dry goods are stored: pantries, pet food dispensers, kitchen cabinets, bread boxes. Bugs travel from floor to floor. If you don't get all the bugs, they will spread and reinfest areas you've cleaned out.
You can detect mites by sticking a piece of scotch tape, sticky side up on packages or on the shelves of storage areas. They also may stick to glue on box tops. Check the edges of sealed flour canisters. They might not be able to get inside, but they may be on the lip, awaiting you to open the container.
Throw out all infested foods in plastic garbage bags and get those trash bags out of the house immediately.
Put all dry goods that don't seem to have bugs in the freezer for a day or two.
Do NOT EVER use pesticides where food is stored.
Vacuum out the cabinets, then throw the vacuum bag into the outside trash.
Wash infected cabinets with soap, water and bleach. Make sure you pull shelves and wash the side edges, too.
WHEN SHOPPING FOR NEW DRY GOODS: Check the supermarket shelf where dry goods are displayed. Don't forget that many prefab dinners have dry goods in the packages. Pet food is also food for mites. I once found mites in baby cereal.
Shop for dry goods in stores that have high shelf turnover.
Buy dry goods in small quantities.
Keep dry goods in a different section of the house, preferably where there is ventilation.
When you bring dry goods home from the store, store them in the freezer overnight. This is what is done in the Far East where mites are a big problem.
Store in airtight glass or plastic containers. Glass containers should have rubber seal. When you use the ingredients, check around the seals for bugs before opening the container.
Plastic bags are ok for short term, but bugs can make pin point holes in them. Wax and paper don't protect well.
Many people say that loose bay leaves in the back of cabinets keep mites out. Try it and see if it works for you.
Take heart if you've eaten something before you detected that it was infested: Flour mites are harmless even if eaten.