Got Bukbok? Here's How To Get Rid of These Pests

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Has this ever happened to you: you scoop rice into the bowl of the rice cooker and when you rinse it, you notice little brown bugs floating to the surface of the water. Those are weevils, also locally known as bukbok. 

This is a common occurrence and unfortunately, it's not just with rice. You might even have once opened a package of pasta or oatmeal and noticed a bug or two in there, too, or maybe an old bag of flour has developed a funny smell when you open it and notice bugs crawling around in there, too. 

Why are there bugs in there? All of these ingredients are made from grains that these bugs love to eat and it's what the food industry call "stored product weevil" which basically means it probably came from the storage warehouses. 

What Is Bukbok

Bukbok is a grain weevil in English, which is also more popularly known as a rice weevil. It is a small bug that infests our storage of grains. That's why you can find these bugs not only in rice, but also in flour, corn, oatmeal, and other dry goods in your pantry! 


You'll find these crawling around in the rice but you might also see them inside the food where it lays its eggs. These are harder to get rid of since these have burrowed. 

Is The Rice Safe To Eat? 

Fortunately, weevils are not poisonous, so if you ingest it or its eggs without knowing, you should be fine. However, these are more pests than anything else and can make your food less desirable to eat, especially if the infestation is rampant. The good news is that it can be readily removed and even prevented with a few storage tips and tricks. 

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How To Get Rid Of Bukbok

Rinsing is one way of getting rid of bukbok or weevils.
Photo by Shutterstock

There are a few ways to not only get rid of bukbok in your rice but also prevent them from infesting your grain storage. Here are ways to get rid of weevils from rice and other grains in your kitchen: 

1 Always rinse rice well before cooking. 

An insect infestation is one of the reasons why rinsing rice is important. It not only cleans out the dust, dirt, and other foreign particles you do not want in your rice but also removes weevils and other insects and bugs that might have gotten into your stash of rice. 

Normally, two rice washings are enough for rice with the third "washing" being a little cloudy for those who like their rice a little sticky since not all the rice starch has been washed away. (Those who prefer their rice more separate can wash until the water runs clear.)

You can cook and consume the rice afterward safely.


However, it should be noted that if the bug infestation has multiplied to a degree that the rice is overly teeming with bugs, it might be best to throw out the rice, especially if you're sensitive to smells or have allergies. You can even tell if your rice has an unpleasant "bug" smell even after it's been cooked, so in these cases, discard any infected packages and the rice as necessary. 

2 Use bay leaves.  

If you don't mind that your rice has an aroma, add a dried bay leaf or two to your rice container. Bay leaves are known to repel flies, moths, mice, and even that other insect pest: cockroaches. other herbs that are known to repel insects that you can use include dried basil and even garlic, too.

Just toss the herbs into the rice but change out the garlic for fresh ones when these have become dried out. 


3 Store dry rice in air-tight containers. 

Rice needs to be stored properly so the insects can't get into the food. This means placing it in a container that won't let anything in it, including bugs and moisture, the other enemy of food spoilage. An air-tight container is best since this will stop anything from entering the container without your knowledge. 

Even with these tips, there is one more thing you need to do, especially if you see you have an insect infestation: clean out your kitchen. The best way to prevent the pests from coming back into your seemingly pest-free kitchen is to keep the place where food is stored as pest free as possible. This means cleaning out the cabinets, cupboards, and shelves and sanitizing them before putting the properly-stored food in containers such as these back in there. 


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here.

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