Friday, November 11, 2011

On Pantry Moth Infestation

    On a preparedness group I was on this year, there was a lengthy discussion on the prevention and treatment of pantry moth infestation.  In 30 years of having a household, I had never seen this, and I thought it was likely something other parts of the country had, or perhaps people who were not as careful and I am.   Well, now we can think again....

       We keep a small pantry in the kitchen seperate from the canned goods, specifically for open grains, etc.  cereals, flour, pasta, Wheatena, rice flour, oatmeal cornmeal,  etc. etc. are kept there in the containers which are open and that we are using.  I generally put a freezer bag over the outside of the paper bags we are using and seal it when they are not in use. Most of the time, when I recall, I freeze grains first, and then put them in the grain pantry. In 30 years we have never had a problem.   We have noticed more moths in the kitchen than normal recently, and yesterday, my husband found that moths had infested most of the packages of food kept in the grain pantry. Oddly, they contaminated things like kool aid also, which were also in sealed freezer bags.
      I did some internet research and rather than rewriting the already well written, I am going to credit those who wrote this, and post information on detecting and containing pantry moth infestation.  Pantry moths can apparently get into almost anything.including sealed packages of granola.

    The following is from:

"Home Hacks" wrote a very good article

What You Need

Warm, soapy water
White vinegar
Essential oil (peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus, or tea tree)
Bay leaves
Cleaning cloth and/or sponge
Airtight food storage containers


1. Inspect everything in your pantry. Although moths tend to infest flours and grains, you should also check dried fruit, candy, pet food, etc. You're looking for adult moths, larvae, and eggs, which may look like webbing or clumps of grains. Discard any infested foods outside, away from the home.
2. Thoroughly clean every nook, cranny, corner, and crevice with a vacuum and/or warm, soapy water (dry thoroughly). If there were signs of infestation, discard trash or vacuum bags outside, away from the home.
3. Wipe shelves, food containers, and other surfaces with white vinegar. For added protection, use a few drops of essential oil like peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus, or tea tree.
4. To prevent infestation, store foods in airtight glass, metal, or plastic containers.
5. Bay leaves repel pantry insects. Place the leaves inside canisters and cupboards.
6. When you bring dry goods home from the store, place them in a plastic bag in the freezer for one week to kill any eggs. If you have space, you can use the freezer for long term storage.
            (End of Home Hacks information)

This is additional information from:

General Information: Pantry Pest

Pantry Pest Traps and Control Measures
These truly can be a "pest".
They are called as a whole group collectively as pantry pests.
They have an appetite for stored food products (people and pet foods) such as: flour, cereal, dry pasta, dry pet food, powdered milk, corn starch, crackers, spices, breads, bird seed, dried nuts and fruit.
They become especially troublesome when these foodstuffs are stored in paper containers and go unused for extended periods of time.
These pests are important to the householder because they cause food waste and infestations can be persistent.
There are several pantry pest: Rice Weevils, Granary Weevils, Grain Moths, Grain Bores, Drugstore Beetles, Tobacco Beetle, Indian Meal Moth, Confused Flour Beetle, Red Flour Beetles,etc.
Pantry Pest Traps and Control Measures
These insects can be brought into homes in packaged foods, although they may enter from outside sources, or from adjacent apartments.
Their presence in the home does not necessarily reflect on the quality of the housekeeper.
The majority of these pests are either beetles or moths. The adult stage is the most easily detected as they often leave the infested material in search of new locations, or are attracted to lights.
The larval or immature stages are either caterpillars or grubs.
These spend most of their life in the infested material, and are usually similar in color to the food that they are living in.
The eggs of these insects are quite small and usually go unnoticed.
The pupal stage may take place away from the infested food in corners or cracks in the cupboards or packaging.
The length of time to complete their life cycle varies greatly, depending on temperature, relative humidity, and the quality of the food supply.
Most stored food pests can complete several generations in one year.
They can also breed continuously as they usually exist in favorable conditions
Both can be eliminated by a proper search for the infestation and treatment with traps and/or crack and crevice aerosols.
Stored product pests are usually brought into the home in an infested package of food.
Initially, infestations are easy to overlook because the insects involved are quite small, especially the egg and larval stages.
Often the first indication of the infestation is the appearance of small moths flying about or the presence of beetles in or near the food package.

# In private residences the pantry pest such as the Indian meal moth is usually brought in products from the grocery stores. It is usually just in one area, but can spill over into other areas.

Prevention and Sanitation:

Pantry Pest Traps and Control Measures
# Place exposed food in containers with tight-fitting lids .
# Periodic cleaning of the shelves helps to prevent infestation of stored food products by pantry pests.
Certain pantry pests need only small amounts of food to live and breed.
# Some infestations of packaged food originate in the food-processing plant or warehouse.
Broken packages should not be purchased, or should be exchanged for unbroken packages when discovered, for the chance of these being infested is greater than for perfectly sealed ones.
# Do not mix old and new lots of foodstuffs.
If the old material is infested, the pest will quickly invade the new.
# If you are unsure about an item being infested, place it in a plastic bag where you will be able to catch anything that emerges.
If you find the pantry pest accumulating in the bag, you know the foodstuff is contaminated and needs to be discarded.
To insure any item is pest free, store it in these clear bags for at least a month. Sometimes it takes even longer for the adults to emerge.
# Infestations are most likely to occur in packages that have been opened for the removal of a portion of the contents and then left unsealed for long periods.
Some of the pests may find their way into other food packages, but even those in a single package may become so numerous that large numbers may find their way into every suitable material in the home, and will eventually crawl over floors, climb up walls, and gather about windows.
# Clean old containers before filling them with fresh food. They may be contaminated and cause a new infestation.
# Make sure that cabinets and storage units are tight and can be cleaned easily.
# Store bulk materials, such as pet foods, in containers with tight-fitting lids.
# Keep storage units dry. This is important because moisture favors the development of pantry pests; dryness discourages them.
# Some pantry insects breed in the nests of rodents and insects and may migrate from these into homes. Eliminate any nests found in or near the home.
# Pantry pests can also breed in rodent baits. Be sure to frequently check and discard infested baits.
Controlling Temperature:
When packages of food are found to be infested with moths or beetles, either low or high temperatures may be used to control the infestation. Insects are cold-blooded; their body temperatures closely follow that of their environment.
The most favorable temperature for most pantry pest is about 80°F. Above 95°F or below 60°F, reproduction and survival is greatly reduced.
When temperatures are lowered, insect activity decreases until all activity stops. The quicker the drop in temperature, the quicker the kill.
Although insects will be killed, their bodies will remain in the food unless sieved out.
An exposure of 2 to 3 days to temperatures of 5°F or lower kills the more susceptible stages (larvae and adults), but eggs require longer to kill (3 weeks).
An alternative is to freeze the food for a week, remove it from the freezer for a few a few days, and then refreeze it for another week.
             (End of Pantry Pest information)

     I'll let you know how all of this goes.  I am turning off the computer now, in order to follow the directions of BOTH of the groups above.  YUK. They are also in my dates and raisins which were in unopened new boxes !

No comments: