‘Uh oh’—a collective gasp cogitates through the minds of my friends in the kitchen. My housemate, reaching forward, has swatted and squished what is probably the first of the seasonally-dreaded kitchen moths. The previous spring, these infuriating intruders managed to wipe out three-quarters of our dry food supply, and fearfully in the thoughts of all involved, it was going to happen again.
As the months grow warmer and the season starts to turn from heinously cold to bearably warm, we’ve reached that time of the year where our kitchens are vulnerable to invasion from all manner of flying insect. Most of these are a harmless nuisance—the common house fly, an irritating mosquito, nothing more than a brief bother. However, there exists another type of trespasser that poses total aggravation if not dealt with or prevented: the humble kitchen moth. Kitchen moths and bugs come in the form of several different species: Indian meal moths, Mediterranean meal moths, granary and rice weevils or wheat weevils. All love to eat your flour, grains, legumes, cereals and stored dry food. All are extremely annoying, and difficult to get rid of.
Since last spring we have instituted a cleaning regime to rival that of a quarantined hospital. Cupboards are vacuumed, washed, dried, cleaned again, and treated to prevent infestation. Food is discarded and glass jars are our only method of storing food. The moths have stayed away, and our food has thankfully remained pest free. You may not need to implement such an exhaustive program to ensure your kitchen space is bug free and your food is safe, but just to be on the safe side, take a look at the following guide to ensure your space stays clean during the warmer months of spring and summer.
Whether you have a had an infestation, are currently battling a plague of pesky bugs, or just want to ensure you don’t have to deal with an invasion later, your first step is to clean the kitchen. Now, there is ‘cleaning’ and then there is cleaning. In order to thoroughly clean your kitchen to expel or prevent an infestation, you need to perform a detailed and exhaustive clean, of both your kitchen and the surrounding domestic areas.
Firstly, if you have (or suspect) an infestation, discard all food that has not been kept in impenetrable containers (glass, metal, or hard plastic). These nasty’s can actually eat through plastic, so ensure your container isn’t compromised before keeping it. Vacuum all cupboards, crevices, shelving, cracks and hard-to-reach areas in your kitchen. These bugs can make their home in ceiling cracks, and for this reason, you need to clean everywhere. Throw away your vacuum bag, believe it or not, they can continue to live in your vacuum cleaner, hatch, and fly right back into your kitchen!
Now comes the cleaning—use a household spray, or natural product such white vinegar to wipe down all surfaces, and focus on ensuring you clean the entirety of the cupboard, as well as the corners and hard to reach spaces. To safeguard against any pests that may have survived, perform this clean again in a months time.
If you have cleaned your kitchen, but still have a few nomadic flying nuisances, try some kitchen pheromone traps. These traps bait the adult moths into their sticky lure, and will reduce the number in your kitchen. A common misconception is that these traps will remove all of the moths, thus removing the infestation—unfortunately the pheromone only works on male moths, and therefore will not guard against larvae in food, moths in cocoons, or female queens. Other alternatives to traps are some natural deterrents, such as cedar oil, vinegar, and even small bags of peppercorns have been reported to discourage potential bugs. Avoid strong pesticides as, although they will effectively kill the pests, can also seep or leach into your food stuffs and cause sickness.
After the thorough kitchen/house clean, prevention is the best way to ensure your space stays uncontaminated and pest free. Firstly implement a cleaning regime—regular, less thorough cleans every month or so can greatly reduce the potential for moths to make your home, their home. Moreover, use your refrigerator as much as possible. Storing food within your fridge or freezer can greatly reduce the risk of infestation. Another interesting point to consider is to investigate where your grains and dry food are purchased. Most commercial retailers will have quality products free from any larvae, but if you purchase from unknown sources, farmers markets etc. be careful what you bring into your home, and check for potential infestations before storing. Of course, if you store everything in solid glass, metal of hard plastic containers, the risk significantly reduces.
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