Pantry insects

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I seem to have a minor insect problem. My wife and I noticed small moths flittering around occasionally. I caught a couple and, through some research, discovered that they are some kind of adult rice/grain weevil. We only see one at a time and have not seen any swarms or larval worms. We have cleaned out every cabinet and drawer (even the cabinets where there is no food stuffs) in the kitchen and pantry, washed all the inside of the cabinets with a weak solution of bleach and water, and threw out everything that was opened or looked like it could harbor insects. When I say everything, I mean everything. All that is left in the cabinets are a couple of unopened and sealed jars, the cabinets are pretty much bare.
During the clean up, I found no worms, no worm skins left over after they emerge as moths, and only found a single dead moth in one cabinet. But the moths are still around. We only see one at a time. Last night I pulled out the range and fridge and found nothing but some dog hair. I vacuumed and washed the areas with bleach water just as a precaution.
I checked the dog food and cat food and found nothing. The exterminator is due to come out soon for his bi-monthly service and I will ask him about it. Do any of you home repair gurus have any advice? I have googled this topic and found many tips but still can not find the source of the moths.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Les
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Gina and Les Armstrong wrote:

We have a more advanced case of these moths and have seen the larvae crawling around. We have tried cleaning out the pantry, using flypaper-like devices (which have caught dozens of these moths) but they just don't go away.
We have found them in packages that you would normally think are sealed. They can eat into baggies and other such things. Amazingly, we have found them in sealed tupperware storage bins (rice, flour) that had not been opened since filling, leading me to believe it's possible they are coming into the house via goods from the store.
No solution here...we've tried what you've tried and they are still around, though not in the numbers they once were. I anxiously await any advice from someone knowledgable in this.
Joe
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Unbaked bulk goods (such as good ol' flour) are pretty much guaranteed to have eggs. I always toss my flour bags in the freezer for a week or so after bringing them home from the store -- temps in a freezer are low enough to kill off the eggs of the miller moths and weevils.
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clipped

Any cereal product will hatch insects if you store it long enough. The secret is cooking it before it hatches :o)

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Norminn wrote:

Make that "uncooked" cereal product.

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These can be difficult to eradicate. You can put flour, grains, bread/cake mixes, and cereal in the freezer or store them in glass jars for several months. My mother put a bay leaf in the four to keep bugs out of it. Actually, there's no harm in eating insects, just the thought of it.
On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 16:17:20 GMT, "Gina and Les Armstrong"

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clipped

Do you have any unopened boxes or bags of meal, flour, cereal or pasta? Shelf paper that stuff could have gotten under. I had mystery bugs for a long time, that infested newer stuff, until I found a little package of corn meal full of them. Disposing of that solved the problem, along with not storing any cereal products for long unless they are in plastic or metal container and sealed well.
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We tossed everything that was more than a week or so old, and really looked closely at anything we kept. We had a container of white cornmeal that I only use for pizza making. When I dumped it out, there were some very small black specks throughout it. They were not crawling or moving. They did not look like insects, but more like ground black pepper. I was not sure if they were supposed to be in the cornmeal, so I tossed the whole container. I poured out the corn meal into a clear Pyrex cup before disposal and did not see any worms or casings. Like I said, we tossed 99% of the contents of the cabinets, including lots of spices and herbs. Hopefully we got what ever they were in. The occasional moth is more of an annoyance than anything else.
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Pack all of your flour, sugar, cereal, etc in a picnic cooler for a few weeks, and look behind things like furniture/appliances that don't move often, and pictures and other things hanging on the walls, in case it's something other than meal-moths, that's only there after the water.
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Gina and Les Armstrong wrote:

I don't think it applies to your situation, but one way of dealing with food stuff that you suspect may be contaminated is to load it in to a large container (like a clean garbage container, cover the top item with a thick covering of news paper and top with like five or ten pounds of dry ice. Cover and seal as well as you can. Leave it sealed for a week or longer. But that time, you will have done a job on most everything in there. The CO displaces all the O and larva and most eggs die out.
Yea, you still have the remains in your food, but if you really look, it's there from the store.
--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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snipped-for-privacy@cinci.rr.com says...
:) I seem to have a minor insect problem. My wife and I noticed small moths :) flittering around occasionally. I caught a couple and, through some :) research, discovered that they are some kind of adult rice/grain weevil. We :) only see one at a time and have not seen any swarms or larval worms. We
You describe it as a moth flittering about...weevils are a beetle, usually don't see them flying about. You probably are dealing Indian meal moths.
:) have cleaned out every cabinet and drawer (even the cabinets where there is :) no food stuffs) in the kitchen and pantry, washed all the inside of the :) cabinets with a weak solution of bleach and water, and threw out everything :) that was opened or looked like it could harbor insects. When I say :) everything, I mean everything. All that is left in the cabinets are a :) couple of unopened and sealed jars, the cabinets are pretty much bare :) During the clean up, I found no worms, no worm skins left over after they :) emerge as moths, and only found a single dead moth in one cabinet. But the :) moths are still around. We only see one at a time. Last night I pulled out :) the range and fridge and found nothing but some dog hair. I vacuumed and :) washed the areas with bleach water just as a precaution. They will be found in any sort of plant material, usually what is made from the seeds. It usually is something you have forgotten about such as you were given a free sample of a doggie snack and it was put up and forgotten about...you went through the old herbal tea phase and there are old tea bags in unopened boxes....you tried a specialty dish that you don't use all of the special ingredients thinking at some point you'll make it again, and the years have past since. You need to inspect all packages, even unopened ones...for the opened packages, rotate the open box, the moths leave webbing that will be attached to the side of the box mixed with the food material. For the unopened boxes such as cake mix, they may not be in the food yet, but the caterpillar may of crawled under the top of the box to pupate, so even if you found the source a couple of weeks later moths show up again. :) I checked the dog food and cat food and found nothing. The exterminator is :) due to come out soon for his bi-monthly service and I will ask him about it. :) Do any of you home repair gurus have any advice? I have googled this topic :) and found many tips but still can not find the source of the moths. :) Call the company ahead of time so they can bring you Indian meal moth traps (if in fact they are moths) or you can buy them yourself at most hardware stores.
They also can be found in dried flower arrangements or old bowls of potpourri. There is another common food moth called Angoumois Grain Moth that develops in whole kernels rather than cracked or processed foods.
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
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Les,
One other comment - I'd try to eliminate the pests myself before letting an exterminator attack them. The pest control guys are going to tell you that their treatments are safe, but remember that their approach is to spray poisons and carcinogens everywhere that you store food. Think about it.
Gideon
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says... :) One other comment - I'd try to eliminate the pests myself before letting an :) exterminator attack them. The pest control guys are going to tell you that :) their treatments are safe, but remember that their approach is to spray poisons :) and carcinogens everywhere that you store food. Think about it. :) Most exterminators wouldn't attack them but explain to the customer what needs to be done to get rid of them...clean. The source is in the food, don't think any exterminator would be spraying foods. I would guess the exterminator is going to tell you what ever is appropriate for the remedy. Anything "sprayed" in a pantry would be what is approved for pantry use, but there is no reason to spray anything, much less run out and find carcinogen to apply...not sure I know of any that could be found to spray anyway. Also think about probably most stores ya shop in, church ya worship in and buildings you may work in has pest control done.
--
Lar

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Les,
I have several bits of advice which I hope will help you.
1) Perform a Google search using the exact phrase below. Don't forget to include the quotation marks:
"pantry pest traps"
These pheromone based traps are very helpful in wiping out pantry moths. They used to be a mail-order-only item, but I know that Ace Hardware now carries the product and I'm certain that other retailers must also. I'm guessing $10 for a pack with 2 traps. I just remember that the retail store price is about half of the mail order price. I'd suggest buying at least 2 packages for a total of 4 traps.
2) Don't forget to investigate any pet food or bird food stored in the house. If you have an attached garage, also check any bird seed or dog food stored out there. The moths will find their way into the house. They seem to be particularly fond of sunflower seeds stored anywhere in the house or garage.
3) Check behind furniture and behind hanging items such as pictures. The moths will set up colonies in these areas and the newborn will find a source of food in your kitchen.
They can be hidden behind these objects for months or even years without being detected there. There shouldn't be any doubt when you encounter a nesting area - it will look like spider webs overlaying mini-cocoons.
If you find them in one or more of these hiding places, I'd suggest vacuuming them with a vacuum that has a disposable filter. Remove the filter and clean the vacuum outdoors soon after you feel that you've vacuumed all of the hideouts.
I would suggest starting your search with pictures hanging on the walls. Next I would investigate any wooden furniture which has a rear flat vertical surface which is fairly close to a wall. Next I'd check the back or sides of all other wooden furniture. Finally, everything else.
4) Be sure that you check every possible bulk food item which you may have around your house. Do you have any leftover unshelled nuts sitting in a bowl from the Christmas season?
Some of those nuts, such as walnuts, may have a slight opening in them and the moths can get in and use the nut as a "breeding chamber." This can go on for months or even years and you are likely to only notice the moths when they hatch and move over to your kitchen or pantry.
5) Remember that it is very common for a homeowner to completely cleanout pantries once a month for many months and never get rid of the moths because there is a hidden location in another part of the dwelling. This is extremely frustrating and it is the reason why I suggest an extreme attack on your part as early as possible.
My personal advice - search for hidden colonies away from the food source, continue to monitor food sources, and buy the traps. These pests can ruin a lot of food, consume a lot of your time and they can frustrate a homeowner for years. It sounds as if you've done a great start at researching and attacking the problem. Let's hope these few extra tips win the battle for you. And quickly, so that you don't have to go through another cycle of pitching food.
That's all that I can remember for now. If I recall any more tips, then I'll post them later. I have omitted any tips which I have heard over the years, but which I cannot personally vouch for based upon my own experiences at home or my experiences helping friends and neighbors.
Don't forget to post to this newsgroup and let us know what you discover and how successful you are.
Good luck, Gideon
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says... :) Les, :) :) These pheromone based traps are very helpful in wiping out :) pantry moths. They used to be a mail-order-only item, but :) I know that Ace Hardware now carries the product and I'm :) certain that other retailers must also. I'm guessing $10 for :) a pack with 2 traps. I just remember that the retail store :) price is about half of the mail order price. I'd suggest buying :) at least 2 packages for a total of 4 traps. They are only helpful in monitoring the problem and to help show where the problem may be located at. The remedy is to remove the source where the larvae are. :) :) 3) Check behind furniture and behind hanging items such as :) pictures. The moths will set up colonies in these areas :) and the newborn will find a source of food in your kitchen. :) :) They can be hidden behind these objects for months or :) even years without being detected there. There shouldn't :) be any doubt when you encounter a nesting area - it will :) look like spider webs overlaying mini-cocoons. You may of encountered case maker moths or clothes moths at one time. Meal moths larvae will crawl away from the food source, but not too far, to pupate then return as the moth to lay eggs. I don't usually see cocoons in mass unless it's in the food source. It is common to find a cocoon under shelving or or at the top of a wall where it meets the ceiling.
--
Lar

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SWMBO is picking up the traps as we speak. Will they help point out the main infestation site(the trap with the most catches is closet to the nest), or just catch them randomly? Also, if I clean, discard, vacuum, etc, and use the traps, will I rid my home of the problem, or just control it?
Thanks again,
Les
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snipped-for-privacy@cinci.rr.com says... :) SWMBO is picking up the traps as we speak. Will they help point out the :) main infestation site(the trap with the most catches is closet to the nest), :) or just catch them randomly? Also, if I clean, discard, vacuum, etc, and :) use the traps, will I rid my home of the problem, or just control it? :) :) :) The traps with more in them will be closer to the source, but if you had one in the kitchen and one in the laundry room and more were in the kitchen trap it could also mean that there are two areas of infestation. It is a strong attractant, I have had used ones in a front pocket more than once and stop by a grocery store to have a little parade of meal moths following me to the register. You can rid your problem by the thorough cleaning...areas to watch for are the underside of shelving, or any gaps between the shelves and wall.
--
Lar

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The traps are baited and in place. Now waiting for the carnage to begin!!! (insert evil laugh here)
Thanks for the help! I'll keep you updated.
Les
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Gina and Les Armstrong wrote:

http://www.improvementscatalog.com/product.asp?product 0335zz&dept%5Fid@0
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log onto www.gardensalive.com and buy some "pantry pest traps". Worked nicely for me, and much cheaper than exterminators.
Sounds like Indian Meal worms. I used to call them "flitter moths", so sounds like we're on the same page.
With shipping and all, probably cost you $25 to take care of this. I think mine came from cheap dry catfood that had infestation.
--

Christopher A. Young
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