What Are These Bugs In Chia Seeds?
The realization that your chia seeds are moving is never good. Chia insect infestations often present this way because many bugs are of similar size and shape as the seeds. If the thought of accidentally eating an insect makes you feel ill, then learning why they infest chia seeds can help you make sure your food is safe.
What Types of Bugs Are Found In Chia Seeds?
There’s more than one type of bug that infests chia seeds. Some you might recognize by sight since they tend to infest other types of foods. Others might be small enough that you aren’t sure what they are at first.
The Indianmeal moth is one of the more common pests to invade pantries and other food storage areas. This type of moth lays its eggs directly in the food source. Once the larva emerges, they eat their way through your chia seeds until they are ready to turn into adult moths.
If you find meal moths in your chia seeds, then it is possible that you could unknowingly consume the eggs or the larva. While this shouldn’t cause you harm, it can make your next meal unappetizing.
Meal moths also quickly spread throughout food storage areas, and other dry goods may also be infested.
Weevils are tiny little beetles that almost look like they were made to mimic the appearance of chia seeds. Like pantry moths, grain weevils will lay their eggs inside a chia seed, where the resulting larva can feed for the next couple of months until it is ready to mate.
If you’re surprised to see what seems like hundreds of these miniature beetles, then it might help to know that a single female can lay up to 254 eggs. In addition to your chia seeds, you might find these annoying little pests in flour, cereal, and other grain products.
Pantry mites are so tiny that they may be barely visible to the naked eye. Instead of seeing individual mites, you might perceive the seeds as generally just moving around.
If you thought weevils were prolific, then the pantry mite will put them to shame. These bugs might be some of the smallest that you’ll find in your chia seeds, but they reproduce at rapid rates. A single female mite can lay 800 eggs on the surface of food sources during a life span of about nine to 10 days.
Since these pests are so small, picking them out of the seeds is impossible. They also leave a fine layer of dust on food that is comprised of both living and dead mites along with their waste.
There’s also a chance that you could be dealing with plain old kitchen ants. Usually, ants prefer other types of food, such as that bowl of sugar left on the counter. However, they will invade chia seeds to find a food source.
If you’re used to seeing palmetto bugs, you might think that a tiny cockroach is more tolerable until you see them in your food. Smaller cockroaches will often invade grain products and other types of food.
Unlike meal moth larva and weevils, cockroaches are often aware of being detected. Even baby roaches may attempt to run or bury themselves in the chia seeds as soon as light enters the bag. Learn how to get rid of roaches naturally.
Why Do Chia Seeds Get Infested By Bugs?
Finding bugs in your chia seeds doesn’t mean you’re a terrible housekeeper. This problem usually begins long before the food hits your pantry.
Chia seed pest infestations can start at the point of cultivation since many plants are exposed to insects as part of the natural farming methods.
Bugs also spread easily in warehouses and food processing plants, which means that your chia seeds might have been doomed before they arrived at the store.
If an infestation did happen to start in your home, then it is likely that the bugs found the seeds to be an easy food source. If the seeds were wet, moldy, or going bad, this could have made them ideal breeding and feeding ground for the pests.
Can Chia Bugs Spread to Other Foods?
They can. If you find insects in your chia seeds, you’ll want to inspect the food storage area thoroughly. After removing the offending bag of seeds, you’ll want to take out the other food to look for signs of a pest problem.
Depending on the insect you are dealing with, you might see webbing, dark specks, or live bugs in infested foods.
How to Keep Bugs Out of Your Chia Seeds
You can prevent chia seed infestations by following a few simple food handling practices.
Inspect Food Packaging
You can limit the risk of bringing weevils and pantry moths home by carefully looking at seed packages before putting them in your grocery cart.
Although you might not want to open the package before you buy it, you may be able to see signs on the outside of the bag that indicates insects have been there.
Warehouse bugs often leave tiny holes on the packages where they chew through the plastic to get to the food. You’ll also want to avoid buying anything that looks like it’s been tampered with or opened.
Watch for Rancid or Moldy Seeds
The shelf life of chia seeds can reach as long as four to five years, but you’ll still want to follow the expiration date to ensure it is safe to eat.
The seeds can occasionally go rancid if they get too old or are exposed to high levels of humidity or heat. They can also develop mold. All these issues can contribute to pest problems by attracting the bugs to the seeds and making it easier for them to lay their eggs.
Store Chia Seeds In an Airtight Container
Exclusion works well for pantry pest prevention. Once you get your seeds home from the store, you’ll want to give them an inspection one more time. If all looks good, pour them into an airtight container. Glass works best to prevent infestations, but you can also use plastic bins with lids to store the seeds.
Practice Good Pantry Pest Control
Extensive pantry infestations often require more than tossing a bag of bug-ridden food. Insects sometimes lay their eggs in cracks between the shelves or hide near the ceiling.
Regular pest spraying around your house can keep the bugs away for good. If you worry about pesticides near your food, just tell the technician. They can use food-safe products near pantries or focus on the house’s perimeter where you won’t be storing ingredients for your meals.
After discovering that your chia seeds are moving, you might never look at them quite the same again. Fortunately, infestations are rare once you know how to inspect new food packages for insects and prevent them from getting to your seeds until you’re ready to eat them.