Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Pantry: Pantry Moths

Yesterday I was one of the chaperones for dear daughter's class visit to the Florida State Fair.  We spent most of our time in the agricultural exhibits, including one on entomology.  The presentations on pantry moths and fruit flies were particularly interesting and certainly applied to our frugal pantries.

Pantry Moths

Who hasn't opened a pantry door or opened an apparently completely sealed package and had a moth fly out or seen larvae?  It's an awful realization and, unfortunately, by the time we see them the moths have probably infested much of our dried goods.

If it's dry pantry moths will eat it.  Flour, grains, spices, dried fruits/vegetables and, yes, even dried hot peppers are some of their favorite foods.  Once you have seen signs of infestation it is time for some laborious screening and cleaning.  It is recommended that you throw away all dried products not stored in air tight glass, heavy plastic or metal containers.

Any dried foods stored in heavy duty, air tight containers should be checked for infestation.  Look for grains clinging together or to the sides of the container, webs and actual pests.  Throw away any affected food product and sterilize the container before use.  Some people may want to treat their grain by freezing for 72 hours, if they only see a minor amount of clinging or webbing.

Newly purchased dried foods should be treated by freezing for 72 hours before being placed in storage.  Pantry moths can chew through packaging, so do not purchase any foods with pin holes in the plastic or paper.

After screening all of your stored food it is time for cleaning.  Remove everything from the cabinets and shelves.  Clean everything with a very wet rag soaked in a vinegar cleaning solution.  Pantry moths love to reproduce and hide in crevasses, door sliders, shelf coverings, and lazy susan bases.  Be sure to soak these areas with the vinegar solutions.

At this point you may want to add non toxic pantry moth traps to your storage area.  Boric acid pressed into the shelf and cabinet joints can be helpful.  Do not use moth balls or moth flakes; these are extremely toxic and should not be used around people, animals or food!

Safer Makes Non Toxic Products

You've screened your food and tossed affected products.  You've cleaned and treated your pantry areas.  Now you can re-store your food, hopefully repackaged in air tight containers, and watch carefully for re-infestation.  If you do see more signs of pantry moths it is time to throw away all of your dried foods and re-clean.  It's horrible, but necessary and I will be shedding some tears with you.

God bless,

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