Yipes! Pantry Moths? How'd they get in there?
The Demise of Ploddie
OK, I hate to admit that I had pantry moths. OMG. My house is way out in the country and, thank goodness, I have not yet be plagued with roaches or bedbugs but,,,
So, there are these harmless little moths fluttering about my kitchen. Harmless? I guess, but wait! It's February and there ought be no moths in my part of Pennsylvania in February. I capture a specimen and head to the internet and lo and behold, it is a pantry moth whose scientific name is Plodia interpunctella. I named my captive "Ploddie". So, anyway, Ploddie and I checked out exactly who she was and what we needed to do about her. First of all, the adults you see flying around are not the ones who are messing up your pantry. Oh, they're breeding and bringing up families of new bugs but they have already had their fill of your pantry goods and now are just about having a good time and laying eggs.
The total life cycle of this nasty buggers can range from 30 to 300 days. If Ploddie is a lady, she might lay between 60 and 400 eggs on a food surface. (Giant Yuck Here). The eggs are teenie weenie, smaller than 0.5 mm. The eggs can hatch in as few as two days to two weeks. The larval stage lasts from 2 to 41 weeks, depending on the temperature. This is so creeping me out.
And worse, Ploddie and her buddies like a huge range of tasty delights like cereal, bread, pasta, rice, sometimes even chocolate and dried mangelwurzel. Huh? OK, I have all that stuff but mangelwurzel? Well, more about that later. Back to Ploddie. So, these critters are so insidious that they can even squeeze through the seal on a zip-lock bag or in the top of a Tupperware bin. OMG. Is anything safe?
The website I was examining stated in bold terms that proper hygiene prevented pantry moths. I BEG YOUR PARDON, I averred in bold font. I would stack my pantry next to the best and cleanest of them. Fact of the matter is, you can buy a muffin mix that is already infested with these critters. Not to freak anybody out. It's not like every bag of flour comes with a bug assortment thrown in, but there are instances when you can bring bugs home from the grocery store. (I'm sure there was an X-Files about that...) I really believe that mine were not as the result of my slovenly habits but rather some external source.
What did I do? Well, I called the Exterminator Jason, of course, He examined Ploddie who by this time had, regrettably, shuffled off her mortal coil. He told me to examine everything in my cupboards for moth infestation. I showed him what I had and he said I even needed to check "unopened" jars. I couldn't believe that. I had a jar of Ovaltine that my mother had given me but that I had never opened. I unscrewed the lid and peeled off the paper seal and yuck upon yuck, there were the progeny of Ploddie and her sisters, munching my Ovaltine!!!
Enough of the gross-out factor. What do I do about all this, I pleaded with Jason. His best advice was to throw EVERYTHING OUT. I wept as I saw the dollars going down the drain... Well, actually, I put everything infested and suspected as so in my compost pile and buried it all very deep. Ploddie and her descendants were transformed into worm food and ultimately made my garden that much better in the Spring.
Jason further advised that I get those triangular shaped pantry moth traps. Of course, he could spray the kitchen with poisons but we both thought that was a bad idea. Then, I thought, how about cedar? I asked Jason if cedar would discourage pantry moths the same way it keeps out clothing moths. He pondered it for a spell and said he couldn't guarantee it but it certainly couldn't hurt and if nothing else, it was environmentally safe and OK to use in the kitchen, around food.
So, I later visited my giant box store and found all sorts of cedar blocks and rings to put on coat hangers and sachets but the price was astronomical. There had to be a cheaper, better solution. I went through the other aisles of the store including the pet aisle and there I discovered a giant compressed bag of "cedar chips" for use in hampster cages and such. Even through the plastic wrap I could smell the strong fragrance of cedar. I promptly purchased and once home, filled a mug with chips and stuck it in the back of the kitchen cabinet. I am pleased to state that since that time, I have never had a Ploddie problem again. I further enhanced my prevention by purchasing cedar oil in a spray form and every month or so I spritz the mug of cedar chips with the fragrant oil.
I discovered I had way more cedar chips than I could possibly use so I made my own sachets to place amongst my table linens and blankets that spend much of the year in storage. I even made Christmas sachets and all my holiday ornament boxes have a nice clean scent when I open them in December. The remaining cedar chips I offered up to my next door neighbor, Dagnayean, who is just fabulous with her stitchery. She has been selling cedar sachets (by the seashore... sorry...) at every local Tricky Tray from the Grange to them Episcopal ever since.
And that is my rather plodding tale of Ploddie and her unfortunate demise.