Weevils are a group of small beetles that infest grains. The more common type we find in our kitchen pantry is the meal moth. These insects lay their eggs on cereal grains and the larvae hatch and spin small webs over a clump of grains, which are then consumed by the weevil. The larvae mature into adult moths (about 4-5mm long) which fly off to infest further grain. These types of weevils are very common in Australia and can be found in any of our common grains like wheat, oats, rye and barley.
Control of these moths for human consumption grains involves the use of pesticides and fumigants, designed to kill the adult moths and the larvae in the grain silos. Other methods can include carbon dioxide gassing or freezing. The actual weevils are not dangerous to human health, or to animals, but do damage grain supplies and will cause rejection of grain shipments for export. Because the eggs are laid on the grains themselves and are microscopic, they can be present inside packaging of any finished goods that contains whole grains, and at the right temperatures (warm weather >25’C), the eggs can hatch into larvae inside packaging, and then mature into adult moths. This is how weevils find their way into your kitchen pantry so easily.
Natural and organic products (like Vets All Natural Complete Mix), do not use these pesticides and fumigants, and do not purchase grains that have been treated this way, and as such, are at risk of the occasional viable weevil eggs and larvae entering the food products. As stated, these creatures pose absolutely no health risk, but they can be unsightly and off putting when discovered in a packet of product. One technique that can be safely used to destroy these weevils is to place the product into the freezer for 4 days. It is interesting to note that a similar type of meal moth is used in Asia as a very accurate test for the presence of any residual pesticides and chemical preservatives in health foods – the meal moth is so susceptible that they will die within days of being fed any food or grain product that has any trace of pesticide, but if a product is truly free of pesticides (truly organic), then the moths can survive and go through their entire life cycle.
Our wonderfully healthy product, Complete Mix, does very occasionally have weevils in the hotter months of Spring and Summer, but please rest assured that this does not place your dog or cat at risk in any way, and it is, in its own way, a guarantee of the fact that we do not use any pesticide treated grains or nasty chemicals. If a bag of mix does have weevils, you do not need to discard it, but use the technique of freezing it for 4 days, and it can then be confidently used.
Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons), Founder of Vets All Natural.
Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bruce Syme, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended as medical advice, it simply shares the knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Bruce and his community. Pet health care decisions should be based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
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