Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Going Buggy

To my great shame I must admit: I have bugs.

In my pantry.  It started this summer, when I was away a lot.  I discovered, upon my grief-stricken return, that I had what are known as Indian Meal Moths in my rice.  The rice was old, it had been stored for a while, I threw it out and moved on with my life.

I bought two new, five-pound-bags of rice.  I bet you can see where this is headed.

On Sunday, I discovered larvae.  In my new bags of rice.  And my raisins.  And my barley.  And my cocoa.

When I finished shrieking and flinging things in the trash and running them out to the curb, I ran shrieking to my computer and being typing furiously.

Turns out, these bugs can be quite difficult to control or eliminate: in a lot of cases, their eggs are actually on the food that you buy.

Yeah, hey, thanks for that, Uncle Ben.  I didn't think it was possible to feel more skeeved out than I already did, but it is.

Obviously, it won't hurt you if you ingest the eggs or the larvae--or probably the moths, for that matter--although I'm reminded of the insane convict Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  He liked to eat flies.  Then he progressed to spiders, I think, then birds.

When he subsequently asked for a kitten, they told him, "No."

So anyway, there are discussion boards out there for all of those fellow-sufferers of the Meal Moths.  God, they are gross.  There is nothing that makes you less inclined to eat rice than to see it... moving.

Oh, and if you're sitting there thinking, "Well, but that's her problem: I know I'm good because I have everything stored in airtight containers," then I should let you know that while you sit on your high horse, the little moth larvae are clutching their grain-filled bellies while they laugh and laugh.

"Airtight" is meaningless.  I found one in a tupperware of barley that hadn't been opened in a year.  My new bags of rice were SEALED.

They can get in.  They just can.  If you store your grains in the fridge or the freezer, you'll prevent the eggs from hatching, if they're already in there.  Which they might well be.

One person traced the source of their home-infestation not to grain, but to a box of plastic baggies.  Basically, if it's stored for any length of time in a warehouse, it can have the eggs.

My only hope--and I realize it's a slim one, but believe me, if you saw these things, you'd clutch at any hope you could find--is that, by catching them in the "larva" stage this time around, I may have interrupted their life cycle.

I threw everything out.  I cleaned the entire pantry.  I put new bags of stuff in the fridge.  My hope is, if they're still in there, in egg-form, they can hatch but then they'll starve. 

As I said, a slim hope.  I'm clinging to it nevertheless.

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