I have found some strange strings in powdered ingredients in my kitchen. First time I noticed it in my instant coffee jar and I thought it maybe some kind of worm so I discarded the jar.

Today I was very surprised to find the same type of thin string in my very small paprika jar (powdered paprika).

What can cause this? Am I right to assume its worms? What else could it be? How do I deal with a situation like that?

Image of what I mean: enter image description here

  • 3
    Hello, and welcome to Cooking SE. A picture of the threads would be really helpful here. Dec 22, 2017 at 1:02
  • @DanielGriscom I added an image! Dec 24, 2017 at 10:58
  • Thanks. What's the stuff on the bottom of the lid? More webs? (If so, then it's another vote for "you have insects".) Dec 24, 2017 at 14:12
  • That looks more like a piece of pepper stem that made it through the powdering process complete than any pest problem. Bugs and molds do not usually do straight lines, while pepper stems contain some pretty tough fibres. Dec 24, 2017 at 20:14
  • @WayfaringStranger shouldn't the stem be kind of stiff? This feels exactly like a string, when I lifted it with the fork. Dec 24, 2017 at 22:18

2 Answers 2


I think you are right to figure it is some kind of insect. Little thin threads of cocoonish material in containers of stored food are a pretty clear sign. The strings make themselves noticeable by catching the dust particles from the food. Although it might seem strange to find insect activity in instant coffee, there are tons of different kinds of insects, each one with its own set of tastes. I have found little tiny crawly beige bugs in baking soda even, really.

When this happens, you need to go through everything, discard every infestation you find, and completely re-do your pantry storage system. Lots of advice available on this site and elsewhere on how to rid yourself of these pests.E.g.: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/search?q=How+to+get+rid+of+weevils%3F , and many others. Even though your bugs may not match the exact insect species addressed (maybe they aren't really weevils for example), bugs are bugs, and you don't need a precise id to get some good advice on extermination.

  • Thank you that makes sense, I added an image to my question. I didn't find any worm inside, only the strings. Dec 24, 2017 at 10:59
  • moths, or similar is what I was going to say.
    – Escoce
    Jun 21, 2023 at 0:39

I would pull all your dry good items to the counter and wipe down your shelves to see if you see signs of insects (crawling & flying).

Purge anything that is suspect, old are not used. Take that trash outside when done. Take close look at any bulk cereals, flour, imported dry goods, opened spices & herbs.

Inspect the food items that are already open or are in cardboard with no sealed bag and put them into a sealed container (tupperware style or ziplock bags). Place these in the freezer for a couple of days to try and kill off anything you can't see.

Look at using sealable containers for any bulk items - mason jars, ziplock bags, nifty storage containers, etc. You can find large plastic bins or buckets with airtight lids for bigger items like flour, rice, beans, etc.

Here is a link to the common "pantry moth" that might be the source of your infestation: https://www.pantrymothtrap.com/pantry-moths-lifecycle/

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.