Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bugs in the Pantry?

Get to spend some time with one of our daughters this weekend! Woohoo! Now, on to the exciting topic of bugs:

Are you finding bugs in your pantry? Here are a few suggestions I gleaned from a chat with fellow organizers:

1. [I] have a client where we recently discovered bugs in some old, opened breakfast cereals in her pantry (guessing they are those grain moths). We threw everything opened out, and completely vacuumed and cleaned the entire pantry. We're now looking for a non-toxic 'trap' to keep the problem under control and from recurring. Can anyone recommend a safe product to use? In a web search, I found 'The Pantry Pest Trap' by Safer Brand, but thought I'd ask this fine group for their expert recommendations before purchasing anything.

2. You did good to toss everything, vacuum, etc. Yes..."The Pantry Pest Trap" is the most effective and efficient. As a former Master Gardener, these are what are recommended for pest control, and I use them as a regular control item in my own pantry. They are remarkably effective, cheap, and are 'pheromone' traps that attract the males inside the little brown triangle-like cardboard container making it safe and away from other foods. Replace entire trap every week or so - depending on amount of infestation....every 6 months if used as deterrent. And, there is NO odor or danger to other pantry foods!

Although initially 'disgusting' to think about, these pests (Indian meal moths), can do a lot of damage to the grain industry, and are in fact how these pests arrive in our cupboards! I won't go into more details here, but consider them a type of 'natural result' of today's pantry grains and tell your client not to take it too personally.

There are other herbal-type remedies, but I found that they are not always very effective, needed constant babysitting, replacement maintenance, and frankly...who's got the time? Just go for it the right way the first time! Good luck!

3. -Wipe down the surfaces with vinegar. Test an inconspicuous spot first, just to be sure it doesn't ruin the finish on the surface. While wet, the vinegar will smell, but it becomes odorless once dry. If your client is sensitive to the smell, air out the room as you work.
-Most pests don't like strong-smelling herbs. Spearmint, peppermint, and bay leaves are usually offensive to them. Scatter some leaves on the shelves.
-Store food in glass, not plastic. Plastic tubs often have lids that don't seal fully, or leak food aromas that entice insects and rodents. Bonus -- food will stay fresher longer because glass is impermeable.

4. I've lived in the country for over a decade. Critters outnumber people by a considerable margin here, but other than the occasional fruit fly hovering near a banana I don't have any unwanted visitors in the kitchen. We store everything in glass canning jars, and never have to bother with pest repellent. Simply make the food supply inaccessible and the critters will shop elsewhere.

5. About 3 years ago I started microwaving grains upon bringing them home and I’ve not seen a single grain beetle since. I put a whole 5 lb bag of flour in the microwave about 3 min at 50% power. It destroys the critters & eggs without affecting the quality of the flour. I then store in air-tight containers in the pantry (Lock & Locks are my all-time favorite) or keep in the fridge or freezer to prevent re-infestation.

According to our extension service, freezing is also effective – 4 days at 0 degrees will kill all life stages that may be invisible in packaged goods. Good to know that the little things are totally harmless to humans… If only there was as simple a cure for the “eewwww” effect!

Valuable information, isn't it?!

More on kitchens/pantries:
Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen

Organizing the Pantry
Decluttering in 5 - Check out the Shelf Life of Your Spices