Because bay leaves repel pantry insects. From beetles to weevils, moths, cockroaches, ants, and flies is said to hate the herb’s fragrance. The leaves can be placed in containers of flour, rice, and other dry goods, or taped inside cupboards and shelves.
Although I cannot offer scientific proof, I can confirm that my grains ha…ve been virtually pest-free ever since I started slipping bay leaves into canisters, cupboards, and boxes. I change them out every few months.
Also never had an issue with the leaves affecting the flavor of dry goods; however, if this is a concern, one could tape the leaf to the inside of the lid rather than placing it directly in the food.
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Source: Susan Bowden Tips