Uh oh, there are bugs in this paprika! Drugstore beetles are some of the most commonly encountered household insect pests. They can be found in dry food products like flour, cereal, and nuts, but they also attack a wide range of dried herbaceous plant material. This includes things like tea, tobacco products, herbs, spices, herbal medicines, vitamins (including pills and capsules that contain dried herbs), potpourri, dried plant arrangements, and similar items. Drugstore beetles received their name because they were once common in apothecary shops, which stocked large quantities of these types of dried plant materials. Today, dried dog food is another common source of drugstore beetle infestations, but they also occur in things like bird seed, rat bait, and caches of grains, nuts, or dry pet food that rats or squirrels have stored in attics and wall voids. Adult drugstore beetles are about 1/10 inch long, and the small white grubs feed on the same material as the adults. You can probably find both adults and larvae in that bottle of paprika if you look carefully.
Controlling an infestation of drugstore beetles can be as easy as simply discarding the infested product. But if drugstore beetles are in one item in the house, there is a chance they have infested other items as well, which means it is a good idea to check other susceptible items carefully. Keep in mind that the kitchen pantry is not the only place drugstore beetle infestations can occur. Storing dry food products in insect-proof containers and using products soon after purchase are the best methods of preventing infestations of stored product pests.
See pages 24-27 of Extension Publication 2443, Control Household Insect Pests, for more information on drugstore beetles and other stored food pests. This section gives tips on how to deal with heavy infestations and the types of items to check for infestation.
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Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist, Mississippi State University Extension Service.
The information given here is for educational purposes only. Always read and follow current label directions. Specific commercial products are mentioned as examples only and reference to specific products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended to other products that may also be suitable and appropriately labeled.