Monday, January 17, 2011

Annoying little buggers


So we discovered an annyoing little problem in our house this past week.   And subsquently had to throw away all of our food in the pantry.  Yep, we had an infestation of pantry moths. 

I had NEVER heard of pantry moths before.  You see, we started noticing these itty bitty moths flying around and couldn’t for the life of us figure out where they were coming from.   They were so annoying, b/c they were everywhere. 

So finally, last week, mom was looking in the pantry for something anf looked up and saw dark spots all the way up top in the corner of the pantry.  She got on a step stool and realized they were all swarmed there.  Not all of them of course, but a lot. 

So she cleaned out the pantry and found more behind all the liquor (Note, we are not drinkers, but apparently we have more booze in the house than flour!).

So she proceededto take everything out of the pantry and clean it top to bottom.  But she didn’t really look at everything too closely.  She threw away what she thought was expired and then put everything back in, except for my shelf, she let me organize that. 

Well, that night I went to my SnB group and figured I’d just organize everything when I got home.  Then my lovely ladies proceeded to tell me they were in our food, not just hanging out in the corners of the walls!!! 

So I got home and researched them more, to see what food I needed to toss.  OMG.  Everything was tossed pretty much at that point.  They really like grains, so we likely got a batch of flour w/ tons of eggs in it, they hatched and grew to adult form and bam!  we got pantry moths.  Funny thing is, you see one, you will likely see more, so start moving right then!

The life cyle is egg, larvae, pupa and adult.  There is no way to really tell when we bought that bad batch b/c it took sometime to find the adults and mom has a tendancy to buy flour and stick it in the back of the pantry, but not put the old stuff in front of the new stuff.  Btw, we had like 6 things of flour in the pantry when I threw everything away last week. 

So the egg stage lasts about 7 days.  The eggs then hatch into larvae.  Those little wormie things.  They go through 5 stages of development in order to grow and then they leave to find a place to cocoon themselves.  They leave waste behind.  This process takes about 42-56 days.

Then the pupa stage.  This is when they turn themselves into a cocoon.  Thing about this stage is that they will do this anywhere, not just in the grains they feed on.  They will go under the cap of your dried herbs, the rim of a can, ANYWHERE.   Moth pupae are no more than 1/3 of an inch long and may be as small as 1/4 inch.  This takes aprx 20 days to complete.  If you see these anywhere, just toss it!!! 

Next is the lovely, noticable annoying adult stage.  The adult pantry moth has finished feeding and has only 1 mission: TO CREATE MORE MOTHS! Those moths will fly all over the house, looking for a mate. The female moth releases a pheromone to help the male moth locate her so that she can lay her eggs. Adult moths will only live 1 or 2 weeks because they don't feed as adults. But with the ability to lay 400 eggs at a time, they definitely are as gross as the little worms!

An adult moth is roughly half an inch, and is 5/8 of an inch with wings extended.  A Flour moth is grey and buff white with no hint of color.  That’s the most common from what I’ve read.  There are some Indian ones w/ red coloring, but I’ve never seen them. 

Getting rid of them and keeping them gone is a long process.  Chances are, you will have to throw everything away and start over.  I read that some will get into candy too, so all those toffee bits or chocolate chips?  Toss them!  The rims of cans and other jars that they aren’t attracted to could still have cocoons in them.  The eggs and larvae pretty much stay in grains and that’s just gross.  You want a dead worm in your cookies??? 

These guys aren’t harmful to you to ingest, but still, gross!!!! 

So start by throwing out all your grain.  You have no idea how easy it is for them to get into a closed-never opened-bag of flour or rice.  Grains include cereal, all flours, rice, pasta, crackers, etc. 

Then inspect everything else!  Check out the rims of the spice jars, the edges of your cans, EVERYTHING! 

Toss it if it has anything on it.  Rinse of the cans and jars if they look untouched and let them dry completely before putting them back in the pantry. 

Purchase pantry moth traps.  The grains and other items you toss will take care of the eggs and hopefully all of the larvae and pupa, unless they got into cracks and crevices in the walls.  The pantry traps will attract the male moths to keep them from mating with the female ones.  Swat at everything you see that doesn’t go in the traps. 

Don’t spread bay leaves all over, it’s a waste.  No Wrigley’s Spearamint gum b/c they love sugar and will feed off it.  Don’t use pesticides.  Those are bad in the kitchen!  When you clean the shelves and walls, use white vinegar.  Also, use the hose attachment on your vacuum and hold it near the cracks and holes in the walls to suck out anything that might have stashed itself in there. 

Purchase snapware containers.  Or whatever other similar containers you can find for your flour, sugar, cereal, nuts, chips, crackers, EVERYTHING!

I purchased these the very next day and already have newly purchased products in them:

3 Pack - Snapware Fliptop Double Airtight Seal Cereal Boxes

Lock & Lock Storage 21.1 Cup Storage Bin

Kinetic Go Green Premium Nano Silver 7 Piece Food Storage Container Set

This is in addition to the numerous snapware products I already own.   These aren’t all Snapware.  The cereal containers are, the second ones are from Lock & Lock and the third is Kinetic Go Green Premium Nano Silver 7 Piece Food Storage Container Set.  I’ll use those for dried fruit and nuts and such. 

When you are buying the food that these bugs infest, note a few things at the store.  One, don’t buy anything anywhere these bugs are flying around.  And tell the store manager if you see them.  If you see webbing on anything at the store, don’t buy it and tell a manager.  Do not buy these items in bulk!  If you aren’t going to use it that week, don’t get it.  There is no reason to have flour sitting around for nothing.  Especially if you have these things around. 

The last piece of advice I leave you with is to freeze all grains in the freezer for 48 hours.  This may not work well on crackers and cereal, so with those, buy as needed.  Don’t stock up on those things b/c they are on sale.  Don’t worry, there will be a coupon or sale somewhere again.  But flours, sugars, rice, pastas, all in the freezer for 48 hours.  This will kill all of the eggs that are hanging out in there.  But even if you do this for the 5 things of flour on sale, if you have one female moth still hanging around, it will lay eggs in the flour you just froze to kill and potential eggs already there.  So it was all for naught.  And please, put everything in well sealed containers!!!  Even jars can have these things hanging out in the treads. 

Like I said before, these aren’t harmful to your health, but they are annoying and gross.  And to get rid of everything is expensive!!! I threw away hundreds of dollars of flours, sugars, nuts, spices, herbs, rice, pastas, quinoa, couscous, and much more.  And I was very angry about it!!!! 


Ivy said...

OMG, I am sorry to hear that you had to through away so many thing but hope that now you have got rid of them for good.

Angela said...

Thank you for your post...Looks like I have a great chore ahead of me. UGH!!! There have been a few flying around my kitchen for a couple of weeks now. I had no idea where they were coming from. I am angry that I have to throw away all of my stuff...but atleast I know to wash the jars too and the cans...Thanks...

NikiTheo said...

It is a pain, and we are still seeing little ones flying around... But the plus side is that only seeing a couple here and there, they don't have anyone to mate with (cause all the males are in the trap!) and no where to let their eggs feed and grow b/c everything is in lockdown! It gets better!!! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about these guys being pest. OMG they breed worse than rabbits and when you think that you have gotten them all, there is a new batch that appears out of nowhere. Unfortunately with these in my house, they are all being brought in with my house bird seed. They are all over any of the seed from anywhere I buy it from. The larve is all on my ceilings along the cracks like you said and I will vacuum them all away and then several hours later, they are back, I'm like what the heck. I did try the typical moth ball thing and all that did was move them from one area of the house to another. I didn't know they made those traps that you mentioned and will be on the look out for them, where did you purchase those? Thanks for the post. Let's me know that I am not alone or going crazy with this problem.

NikiTheo said...

The pack I found was from Ace Hardware. I'm not sure if those are all over, but I'm sure that you can find them at any Wal-Mart or any place that has some sort of pest control aisle. This post is a year old now and I have to say, they didn't COMPLETELY disappear until the summer time. We use nothing but snap-close containers, and they have ones for larger needs. I seriously recommend getting them. They will help keep the bugs out, but stick the stuff int he freezer for 48 hours before you put it in the container. That will KILL anything laying around in there, bug or larvae or whatever. That helps too. It's a long process, but worth it.

Pam said...

Did you eventually get rid of them completely? I think I started my clean up before we had very many. I have only had a couple get in the trap since then but I have spotted 2 or 3 I had to kill myself, I assume they were females and ignored the traps. I guess I am looking for assurance that I wont have this problem forever. I cleaned out everything and used food grade diatomeaceous earth on the tops of my cabinets since they crawl upwards and I have found that kills them pretty well. But seeing one that has hatched out sends me into panic again. I am hoping it ends very soon.

NikiTheo said...

Yes Pam, it felt like FOREVER tho!!! The one or.two you find were.probably ones that were in their little.cocoons, so it's not a big deal. they have to have something to mate with to make more. I strongly urge you to put your flour and sugar in the freezer for two days after purchase, then keep them in airtight plastic containers. you don't have to freeze cereal, but we put those in airtight dispensers too. good luck!!!