Grain mites, also known as flour mites, are tiny white bugs that infest kitchen pantry foods such as flour and cereals. They may also be found inside stored dried foods such as fruits, cheese and vegetables. Grain mites proliferate quickly. One female can lay up to 800 eggs.
Grain mites are either pearly white or gray-white in color with reddish-brown or pale yellow legs. Large masses of mites can resemble brown dust to the human eye due to their leg color. Grain mites feed off whole grains or foods made from grains and typically thrive in a humid environment. During their two-week life cycle, female mites lay numerous eggs on the surface of food. After hatching, mites feed on the grains and flours. Due to their fast maturation into adults, grain mites multiply quickly into a large infestation, forcing a number of mites to migrate to other areas of the kitchen in search of food.
Eliminating a grain mite infestation in a home kitchen involves discarding foods damaged by mites and thoroughly vacuuming kitchen cupboards and shelves to get rid of remaining mites. Insecticides are not recommended. Prevent grain mite infestations by storing flour, cereals and other dried food items in tightly sealed food containers made of glass, plastic or metal.