Feb 3, 2012

The Infestation

I don't know when it began, but it feels like it's been going on for months, like the Republican primaries or the reality TV shows about weight loss.

The Infestation.

Google tells me they are Indian Meal Moths, and they are damn hard to be rid of.

I've had them before in my pantry, but never as bad as they seem to be at the moment. They're in everything, these tiny winged terrors. Worst of all, they tend to like foods they actually physically resemble, like oats and rice and motherf***ing sunflower seeds:

Is this part of my breakfast? Or part of a nightmarish scenario where I eat moths and moths grow in
my stomach and have baby moths and eventually turn me inside out into a foul demonic humano-moth?

I think the meal moths have overtaken geckos as my new freak-out-creating creature of choice.

Actually, I think the geckos are part of the problem. Or rather, the lack of geckos. Is it just me, or are there very few about this summer? Perhaps it's the rain. Good to moths, bad to geckos.

I know that the geckos used to eat the damn moths, keeping them under some semblance of control. I know this because once I put a sticky pantry trap in the cupboard to get the moths, and a gecko got stuck on it. It was an anguishing thing to happen, as I wanted to help the gecko free, but I'm so terrified of geckos that I couldn't bring myself to touch it. I had to wait half an hour or so for The Wah to get home, so he could tear gecko's fragile body from the sticky paper. Oh God, the anguish.

The Wah, who is St Francis of Assisi-like in his affection for all animals, got the gecko loose (although it did leave several dermal layers behind). He set it free on our balcony, and it scampered away, I imagine to die somewhere quietly. But at least we did the right thing. Well, The Wah did the right thing, and I just squealed disgracefully in the background.

But the Hitchcockian tale of The Gecko Vanishes has left my larder in a mess. So much so that I unwrapped another pantry trap to see just how bad the situation had become. After a mere four days in action, hey presto, the killing fields...

I imagine this makes me a very bad Buddhist. Being a lapsed Catholic is probably another reason I'm a very bad Buddhist. But regardless, I took equal amounts of pleasure in their deaths, and disgust in their proliferation in the first place.

Today I launched a scorched earth policy. I turfed everything out of the pantry, and chucked most flours, cereals and grains. I vacuumed the shelves to suck up any little cocoons of awful sticking to the laminate. I spray cleaned and sponged.

Then I went to Howard's Storage World to buy Storage. I don't know who Howard was, but by goodness, he knows how to put things in places. Expensive places too. I refrained from purchasing more dry food storage containers, because they were about $30 a pop. But I did pick up some plastic trays with handles to replace the baskets I'd been using, and which I suspect had been secret bases for meal moth expansion. Now the pantry is re-organised, re-freshed, and hopefully, de-mothed.

I am going to install another pantry trap and monitor the situation. But any advice on keeping these little buggers away is welcome.

Have you ever had an infestation? What creatures afflicted your home? And can you ever get rid of these things for good?


  1. After a year in The Compound, I saw my first spider the other day. Needless to say, I nuked the site from orbit. Only way to be sure.

  2. Bay leaves are your friends. I have bay leaves scattered through my shelves, it is a bit messy looking but no moths since I've done it. I think it was a Shannon Lush tip. She said you could blutac the leaves to shelves etc. I didn't quite get that far.

  3. We have a bay tree here if you need a few leaves
    We use them to keep silver fish out of the clothes cupboards
    The Ancient Man

  4. whenever you buy flours or anything like that again, put it in the freezer for 24 hours first.

    all the dry foods we buy carry moth eggs - there is no way to remove them from the process so by freezing you are killing the eggs before they have a chance to mature.

  5. Thanks for your responses, all!

    Accidental Hippy - I have tried bay leaves before, but they didn't seem to be hugely effective. However, I'll try again. Might have to take a trip out to The Ancient Man's abode to snaffle some!

    Lil Miss Norti - how do you freeze them? Just pop them straight in in their paper packet? Or put them in a jar or plastic container first? Lid on, lid off? I'm a bit concerned about having wet flour. I'm pretty clumsy. :)

  6. Least you don't have the living hell of bed bugs... hard little so-and-so's to get rid of & as an added bonus they gain an immunity to each chemical spray that kills their parents and breed faster than rabbits.
    Just think-go to sleep and little vampire bugs come to suck your blood, a few hours after you wake you might get itching or inflammation like what I experienced for 2weeks on each bite (anti-histamines are my friend).
    Diatomaceous Earth is my saviour!! Chalky type substance from multi-cellular plant fossils that is sharp and they end up scratching it into themselves and drying up :-D

    For moths, I put cedar balls and dried lavender around my clothes.

  7. Perhaps @DnaBeast can write a song for you

  8. Just put the pack into the freezer. It's the cold that kills 'em, not the frost.

  9. Well done and good luck in your battle against the beasties. I myself had to go down the scored earth folowed by Howard when small black droppings from rodents (I think they were rodents) were turning up in the pantry.

    Chemical warfare works well too.

  10. Great post, I LOLd, I actually did. Plagues - well, at the moment, it's geckos. And with them, little gecko poos, and little gecko wees, and silhoettes of moths in their death throes on the ceilings, and explosions of guts and gore to rival an Alien movie on the walls.

    Previously, we had a visitation of mutant rats in the shed. Soft-hearted me quite likes rodents, so got all girlie about using traps or baiting them (I'm not sure how I thought we would rid ourselves of them). Turned out that these things could have been used for biological warfare. Troops of them would stare, beady-eyed, from the rafters when I went in to hang the washing. In the end, we did use bait - I swear to God, we'd put the bait out, and there would be a stampede of rats who would wrest it from the shoe box we'd attached it to and brandish it in our horrified faces before stuffing it down their rodenty maws. Laughing in a ratty kind of way.

    Several tonnes of bait later we conquered them. But fond of rodents?...not so much, anymore.

  11. i had a meal moth infestation after my neighbour gave me his pantry goods when moving - so I did a massive pantry scrub, bay leaves, traps and finally moved house. no more moths.

  12. I fought the good fight for years on this front. Recruited geckos to live in the pantry, bay leaves and the rest.

    Now, I just stick it all in the freezer. Flour, breakfast cereal, the lot.. I just put them in the freezer door as they come, ie. flour in its packet. It doesn't seem to harm any of it.

  13. Awesome post, I want to check out a couple of your other messages. Thanks!