Tiny Bugs (Black / Brown) in Kitchen Cabinets & Countertops?

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Nothing is more shocking than realizing you have some unwanted creepy crawlies making themselves at home in your kitchen. Even though it may be difficult to identify what kind of bugs are invading your home, there are a few methods to try that can get rid of them and prevent them from returning.

The most common black and brown bugs you will notice in your kitchen are flies, ants, roaches, and certain species of beetles. To figure out which ones you are dealing with, pay attention to the areas they like to gather and if you find any larvae or droppings.

Why Do You Have Bugs in the First Place?

It’s a common misconception that pests only invade dirty, unkempt areas. Rest assured, many kitchen pests are simply opportunists and they are experts in seeking out a food source.

Some pests become more invasive in the winter months as they seek out warmer shelter away from the elements. It’s also common for certain bugs and animals to come inside after large rain events have washed out their original hiding spots.

If you live near farm fields or in an area with a lot of crops, insects tend to become more apparent shortly after pesticide is applied to crops as well as after harvest time. This is because their original food source has either become poisonous to them or been removed altogether.

Tiny Brown Bugs

Most bugs can vary in coloration, but if you notice there are tiny brown bugs in your kitchen, it could be one of a few varieties.

German Cockroaches

These roaches are smaller than the American cockroach, which is the typical, large 2-inch pest most people think of when they hear the word “cockroach”. German cockroaches are usually only ½” to ⅝” long, just barely larger than a kidney bean.

Adult German cockroaches are usually light brown to dark brown in color, while their babies (nymphs) appear as black specks. The biggest telltale sign of a german cockroach infestation is small piles of their droppings on countertops and floors, which will look like somebody sprinkled pepper everywhere.

Another indicator is finding their egg shells, which look like hollow grains of rice that have a distinct ribbing on them. They prefer dark, damp areas close to food sources. You will usually find them under your sink and on the floor of your pantry.

Unfortunately, by the time you notice you have german cockroaches, you already have a serious problem. For every one you see, there are hundreds of them you don’t see. They come out at night and hide during the day.

You will need to hire an exterminator or pest control expert to get rid of them and protect your home from future infestations. Be sure to fix any faucet drips and seal all food containers, especially pet foods.

Fruit Flies

These common household pests are notorious for their large swarms that appear seemingly overnight. Sometimes referred to as “gnats”, these annoying bugs keep fairly still until they are disturbed, and then they all swarm up at the same time trying to find another food source.

Rotting fruits and vegetables are their favorite snack, so be sure to throw out anything you keep on your counters after it’s gone bad. They also like sweets, such as sodas and juice, so wash any cups or dishes you have sitting out on your counter.

The good news is that these insects can easily be eliminated and controlled. First, remove all sources of food by throwing it away or sealing it tightly. Clean your countertops and your drains (another place they like to gather) and purchase some fruit fly traps to set around your kitchen.

Rice Moths

Rice moths appear as gray or brown bugs in kitchen cabinets and countertops. You may only see one or two at a time, but since they are proficient egg layers you might have a possible infestation on your hand.

One female rice moth can lay up to 400 eggs in her short three month lifespan. Just like our beetle friends, initial contamination usually occurs at packaging plants, but it’s still possible for them to find their way into your home through other means.

Usually, they will lay their eggs in large, uncovered bins of food at processing plants and then fly off. Their eggs will get mixed in with the food, packaged, and arrive at your home. The larva will then form webs for their pupae, which will hatch into moths.

Once they’ve hatched into moths is when you will start to notice them more. By then, it’s only a matter of time before more hatch and lay their own eggs, beginning the cycle all over again. If you notice small, white worms and silky strands in your goods, throw them out immediately.

Tiny Black Bugs

Tiny black bugs in your kitchen could be one of the following possible pests.

Sugar Ants

These bugs are pretty easy to identify as they crawl around your countertops and floors. Just like fruit flies, they can appear pretty quickly, but they can also be easily controlled.

If you see a gathering of sugar ants, try to identify their source. Follow the trail of ants and you will most likely find a hole along your baseboards or leading to an open door or window. Seal off the entry point as needed, then follow the trail to the other end to find what they are munching on.

Remove their food source and thoroughly clean the area. Seal up all food on counters and panties. Spray a human and pet-safe bug barrier all along your baseboards and doorways to prevent them from returning. Once they know where food is, they are more likely to return.

Weevils

Sometimes called Grain Weevils, this species of beetle is a common tiny bug to find on your countertops and cabinets. Some species can fly into your house, while others are flightless and find their way in through little nooks and crannies.

They have many different appearances, but usually have a “teardrop” or “lightbulb” shape with a noticeable snout. They can be colored light brown to black, and some species are spotted.

It’s also common for them to “hitchhike” their way into your home from packaging facilities. They prefer dried goods, like rice, flour, beans, and dry pet foods.

You usually can’t spot weevils until they are full grown as their larvae are too small to see with the naked eye. Immediately throw away any food you notice is contaminated, and examine all other dry goods in the vicinity to make sure they haven’t spread.

Vinegar is known to kill these pests and their larvae, so wipe down all surfaces with undiluted vinegar and allow it to dry before returning your food to the pantry.

Flour Beetles

These are the most common household beetles because they reproduce quickly and are hearty, so they can withstand many different climates. Just like the weevil, they prefer dry goods and can quickly become a pest problem in packaging plants.

There are two kinds of flour beetles, the Red Flour Beetle and the Confused Flour Beetle. The biggest difference between the two is that the Red Flour Beetle can fly while the Confused Flour Beetle cannot, but is a quicker crawler.

These beetles are the vultures of the pest community in that they usually only appear after goods have already been damaged by another kind of pest. They cannot eat whole grains but instead pick up the leftovers.

Flour beetles tend to leave once their food source has been removed, but that can be difficult because the packages of food may not be obviously damaged.

If you’re having trouble finding the source, check your oldest packages first. Be sure to store your goods in airtight containers and inspect your packages as soon as you bring them home before placing them in your pantry.

Drugstore Beetles

This is an interesting little bug, but once it invades your house it goes from interesting to annoying. Tiny and brownish-resh, these little pests rarely find their way inside your home on their own, but instead hitchhike from packaging plants and grocery stores.

They get their name because they are commonly known to nibble on prescription medications at drugstores. But they also enjoy almost any type of food in your pantry. In fact they will even eat tin foil and plastic bags. There’s a joke that drugstore beetles eat everything but cast iron.

The adult beetles don’t cause as much damage as their larvae do. Once laid, the larvae will burrow through their food source. Removing their food source and spraying pesticide into cracks and crevices is the recommended treatment.

Rodents

While not actually a bug, these pests leave droppings behind that can look like tiny black bugs on your counters and drawers. They are excellent climbers and burrowers, making it easy for them to hide and reach food on the highest shelf.

Depending on whether it’s rats or mice, the droppings can vary in size. Finding these droppings means you need to act fast. Even one or two rodents can cause significant damage to your food as well as spread disease through their droppings.

Set out the appropriate traps, either to kill them or capture them if you prefer to release them back into the wild. If you release them, make sure you are at least a mile away from your house as their sense of smell is very good, so they can easily return the same day.

If you aren’t comfortable handling them yourself, call a local pest control company to capture them as well as find their nest so they can remove all offspring if there is any.

Best Tips for Prevention

Regular inspection of your stored foods is essential to catching insect issues before they grow larger. If possible, remove your food from its cardboard or paper packaging and place it in airtight containers.

Try to keep large storage containers, especially pet food, off of your floor and also inside your house. Pests that find their way into your garage can easily infiltrate your house.

Check all your sinks and drains for leaks regularly. This includes your garden hose and your AC unit. Some bugs thrive in damp, moist environments, so don’t make it easy for them.

Yearly or twice yearly pest control from a professional company is recommended. They will usually spray both inside and outside of your house as a means of killing existing pests and providing year-round protection.

Final Thoughts

While finding any kind of insect in your kitchen cabinets and on your countertops can be frustrating, sleep well knowing that eradication and prevention of these pests are possible.

It may be necessary to call a professional pest control company to take care of a large infestation, but taking the proper steps on a regular basis will help to keep your home bug free.

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