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Friday, March 29, 2013

Pantry Moth Plague Continues

Ziplock bags are ineffective at keeping pantry months
out of their favorite foods, walnuts in this case.
 I tossed the bag and all its contents, pronto!

“Oh, it’s just a little moth.  What’s the big deal?” Wayne said, dismissively one eve. I muttered curses whilst the little f---ers adroitly vanished into the dim, murky  recesses of our cabin.  More disconcerting, they even sprang back from a good swat; anything short of a full body contact slam against a 100% solid surface was insufficient kill force.

Normally Wayne’s the worrier and I’m way too laissez faire.  But when it comes to something amiss in “my” galley… diamonds are more flexible.

I had the ominous sense these dimutive nervous flutters were not just passing through. 


See that icky webby stuff?  It’s pantry moth web sacks.  They’re
gone now and I’ll be regularly inspecting them to wipe
out further colonization.
Nearly every eve one or more wily wingers made their rounds; it was clear to me they’d made themselves at home without my permission.  I do not harbour unwelcome guests with grace.  I am decidedly not zen when it comes to all insects in my home except mosquito hawks, butterfies and a limited amount of ladybugs (I once experienced hundreds of ladybugs -- that was too much of a good thing).  Spiders, bees and wasps I trap under a glass, slide a paper underneath to secure them inside, then transport them outside and release.  All other household insects are subject to the death penalty unless their leave-taking is muy rapido.

I was beginning to consider bug bombing the boat, when my brilliant best friend Anna sprang to the rescue with errdication info over email.  Anna, whose housekeeping habits are in the Martha Stewart league, knew from firsthand experience exactly what these little buggers were – pantry moths.  In a few weeks – Anna won The Moth Battle.

“You really have to do a thorough cleaning...it is a pain,” Anna wrote.  Finding and jettisoning infested foods is also key.  They’re particularly fond of bread crumbs, nuts, flour, wheat products, corn products, some spices, some chocolates with nuts, Anna shared.  Any uninfested favorites need to be kept in very tightly sealed containers.  Freezing suspect food was an additional precaution.

Anna also deployed traps (http://www.cleanertoday.com/Moth-Traps-s/85.htm) with a pheromone scent to attracts then trap egg-laying females, which eventually eliminates reinfestation.

This moth debris –eggs -- is what I found under the plastic
aerating grate in my cupboard.  It’s gone now!
I thoroughly scoured all my cupboards, two of which were definitely infested. There was some plastic grating that made it easier for them to hide; they were dunked repeatedly in the bay (we’re in a very clean anchorage right now), then sprayed, then scrubbed.  I checked out every potential food source, and found more invaders.  I also killed two fleeing flutterers.  Sealed ziplock bags are no match for pantry moths.  I found them in a sealed ziplock bag of sugar, another sealed ziplock of my big stash of walnuts.  Bags still sealed, they were tossed without delay into our dinghy then taken to the marina’s dumpster.

I obliterated my supply of rubber-sealed storage containers. 

On a tip from Goldilocks cruiser Michael (click here for their blog), I also added bay laves to my flour containers for weevil prevention.

I could not deploy our shoebox-sized freezer as a precautionary cold-kill zone, as it’s just too small to accommodate any more than its already meager, crammed contents.  

My friend used these moth pantry traps
effectively, but they’re not available in
St. Thomas’ Home Depot.
Though Anna bought her tentlike pantry moth traps at Home Depot, St. Thomas’ Home Depot does not carry them.  I endured a rather awkward conversation trying to explain the product to one of their employees when I didn't see the product on their shelves.  I swear he thought I was trying to hit on him, as I babbled about how the product “attracted the females with pheneromes so they couldn’t lay their eggs.”  We’re not in St. Thomas long enough for me to count on being here if I mail order the lethal “tents,” so I will look again when we sail to Puerto Rico. 

Still, after two days of cupboard cleaning, I’m betting I’ve finally got those moths on the run.  If not, they will find, eventually, resistance is futile and fatal – even without a toxic bug bombing of our boat.