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11 January 2011

Kitchen bugs! Eeeuucchhhhhaaagh! Successfully battled the indianmeal moth all last fall, and was starting to again feel complacent about the pantry, returning stuff from quarantine in the fridge and freezer to the shelves again. Then, tonight, I met a new enemy. Did you know there are bugs that specifically like to live in paprika? Neither did I!
Cayenne too, apparently.
posted by Miko 11 January | 23:21
Yep. That's why you keep paprika in the freezer, always. Find one of those little egg cases in your spices, and you'll never make the mistake again.

But look, you're fortunate. I started battling pantry moths in August 2007. Thought I had nearly eradicated them when I went home for three weeks in September while my mom had surgery. Over the past 3+ years, it's been an ongoing struggle. But in the past however-many months, they've been everywhere but my kitchen.

Turns out I did get rid of the pantry moths, but somehow ended up with casemaking-clothing moths. Which have eaten large holes in my carpet, especially in areas where I've had furniture for the past 10 years.

I've got one room mostly under control (though it still requires daily vacuuming and moving of furniture), but still have three more rooms to go.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'd rather have pantry moths.
posted by mudpuppie 12 January | 00:25
Oh man, weevils. In college, we had a friend come visit for a couple weeks. One day, he declared to us that there were weevils in our pasta. I'd never even seen a weevil. I honestly thought "weevil" was a made up word. It sounds so silly. Weevil weevil weevil weevil. See? Weevils woovil but they don't fall down. Something like that. Anyway, sure enough, there they were weeviling around happily in the macaroni noodles. And the angel hair. And the flour, and in the spices, and on the walls and and and. It was an amazing infestation, and got our friend dubbed the Weevil King (because I swear, he created his loyal subjects out of nothing. There were no weevils before The Weevil King!). For more than a year we would find them all over the place. I think they're kind of cute, for bugs.

We got a bunch of heavy duty plastic containers (and a lot of new pasta and flour and spices and so on and so forth) and never found them again in the food, but they sure seemed to like hanging out in that crappy apartment. Maybe they just kept finding the great big hole in the wall that was supposed to be the air conditioning unit and trundling in looking for a more hospitable place to hang out than the Florida heat. Maybe they were eating that godawful carpet. Who knows? Anyway, I feel your pain. Good luck with your weevils, and I will keep The Weevil King at bay from your area if I can.
posted by lriG.rorriM 12 January | 00:38
The worst thing about weevils is being 8 years old and visiting your aunt and uncle on the coast and it's breakfast time and you're halfway through a delicious bowl of Life cereal and you look down into the bowl and you see dozens of little black cake crumb-looking things and you're like "What the heck??" and then you notice that they're slowly wriggling around in the milk.
posted by Atom Eyes 12 January | 01:49
The first time I opened up a bottle of crushed chiles, I thought I saw something fly out. I told myself I was seeing things, that it was just a trick of the light.

The second time I opened that jar and saw something fly out again, I dumped the jar's contents, soaked the jar in hot water-detergent-bleach, and took the garbage bag out to the garage immediately.

On preview: Oh, I should not have read that cayenne link. Eww!
posted by maudlin 12 January | 03:08
Gawd I hate pantry moths. How'd you get rid of 'em?

There are some pheromone traps that work well for us, but despite being careful about food storage they come back now and then. A new round of traps plus being vigilant with a zappy racquet seems to fend them off.

Before then, in the Moth Days, it was pretty bad. Those little fuckers were everywhere. One even crawled into the projector and a giant moth shadow was projected on the screen, the ultimate indignity. When we opened the first traps they all swarmed up from everywhere to investigate, ugh.
posted by fleacircus 12 January | 03:12
I hate to say it, but if you're using old Tupperware, you might want to have a good look at it. My mother found some where the weevils had managed to bore right through the plastic, FFS! Although, perhaps they were giant, mutant Aussie weevils?

Be grateful that you've got the lesser of the two weevils.

I'm sorry - I couldn't resist! Don't hate me!
posted by ninazer0 12 January | 04:07
Mmmm, bugs.
posted by Trilby 12 January | 08:48
Wow, I want to never eat again. Nothing is safe!
posted by punchtothehead 12 January | 08:56
If you really don't like bugs, don't follow this link.
posted by Obscure Reference 12 January | 09:03
I have moved my paprika to the freezer!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 12 January | 10:27
Gawd I hate pantry moths. How'd you get rid of 'em?

It's a long process - like pup says, really hard. I had them one time before, when living in Philadelphia, where everybody in my neighborhood had them. We suspected the local organic bulk-goods co-op as a moth vector. They were pretty hard to control there because they just kept coming back.

This time, I did research and did my very best to mothproof the whole kitchen. I started back in August when they first showed up. Basically, took every single thing out of the pantry that seemed to be on their 'like' list, which meant throwing out a bunch of food. All the grain products - all cereals, pastas, flours, rices, cornmeal, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, etc - but it also turns out they like sweet things too, like raisins and dried fruits, and crackers, cookies, etc. The only things that went back to the cupboard were canned and unopened jarred things like beans and tomatoes.

Everything else that was uninfected went to live in the fridge and/or freezer.

I scrubbed the kitchen down, took up the shelf paper and replaced it, and bleach-scrubbed the cabinet doors and shelves and the insides of drawers.

Somewhere I had read that the full life cycle is eight weeks, so you had to take all their food away for at least eight weeks. I figured I would wait until deep winter when chances of them coming in from outside somewhere would be lessened. It's been, like, 4 months, and I haven't seen any more moths, but I am still keeping most things in my fridge. I was actually about to let down my guard when the Paprika Incident occurred.

Just never knew about the paprika bugs (They're different bugs, too). Like TPS, I will henceforth keep paprika, chile powder, and cayenne in the freezer.

I'm starting to wish I had a really big freezer.
posted by Miko 12 January | 11:04
(Oh, and I totally believe that Tupperware could harbor them, ninzer0 - or any lighter plastic container - because they definitely can eat through things like plastic lids and Ziploc bags. A while ago I started trying to de-plastic the kitchen, so now most things are in glass, which is nice because you can wash it in super-hot water and feel it's truly cleaned.)
posted by Miko 12 January | 11:06
We have stinkbugs. Hundreds of them. They were here before we were and - I recognize this as terribly dysfunctional - we just live with them. They don't seem to eat anything; they're friendly; they smell like cilantro when they're irritated, squashed or eaten by the one dog who considers them tasty and I think just possibly that they chased away the bedbugs. Therefore I am grateful and anyway I think they're kind of cute. Okay they have a tendency to fly around and get in your hair which is sort of irritating but you can just flick them away.

My brother came to stay for Christmas and he was horrified.

Actually as I type this up it's occurring to me that this is sort of far from normal. Oh well! Of all the bug infestations I have suffered through in my life - which is most of them, for I am the Bug Queen - they're absolutely the easiest to deal with, even better than the ladybugs.

≡ Click to see image ≡
posted by mygothlaundry 12 January | 11:37
MGL stinkbugs are entirely ordinary and we have random minor infestations of them which we also mostly ignore. They seem to love summer barbeques in the Front Range, and the locals are quite used to picking them out of sandwiches, flicking them off of seats prior to sitting, and gently extracting them from the hair of the person they're talking to.

we also have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of earwigs and house centipedes, both of which make me hyperventilate and emit the sorts of high-pitched noises that scare dogs and amuse the mister but generally I am told they are mainly harmless. Just disgusting. Argh, now I'm itchy all over, ew.

The one thing both of us hatehatehatehatehate and will actively demolish on sight are miller moths, which are an epic problem here in Colorado. They seem to occur in "plagues" every few years, and Oh. My. God. are they disgusting and aggravating and just UGH.

The last plague of miller moths we had was when the mister was still living with his stoner roommate who would just stand there, stupified and clueless as we'd both simultaneously shout "CLOSE THE GODDAMN DOOR GREG!!!" at him when he'd come in from the garage (they were coming in from the garage via the attic and crawlspace in hordes). It was almost cartoonishly ridiculous how he'd stand there, with his mouth agape as a dozen or so moths would fly in, circling round his head and zooming up to randomly orbit the kitchen light.

mr. lfr would at that point completely Lose His Shit and storm off to get the shop vac, then treat us to a highly entertaining performance of cursing and flailing at them with the extender hose. He's frightened-disgusted of them too, so when they'd invariably fly at his head to avoid the vacuum he'd go all batshit fuckity and... well let's just say the ensuing performance art was kinda almost worth it.

posted by lonefrontranger 12 January | 12:13
earwigs and house centipedes, both of which make me hyperventilate

Oh, God, me too. Well, earwigs I can steel myself for, but those BIG HAIRY house centipedes with the LONG THREADY legs make me, seriously, feel like I'm about to faint.

Once I came into the bathroom and saw one IN THE TUB. After nearly fainting, I clapped an upside-down wastebasket over it and left the room. It was hours before i could bring myself to doing anything about it. Eventually I slid a cardboard under the whole thing and flung it outdoors, waiting more hours to go retreive the now empty wastebasket.

And I'm not a squeamish person at all. But OMG those things are horrifying to me.
posted by Miko 12 January | 14:23
Oh, Miko, that makes me feel a bit better about my complete, irrational, paralyzing fear of those things.

Once I came into the bathroom and saw one IN THE TUB.

One horrible day, I took a long hot bath and --- only after I'd had a long luxurious soak, eyes shut in bliss --- that I was sharing the bath with a huge one of those horrors IN THE WATER WITH ME OH THE HORROR THE HORROR I WILL NEVER GET CLEAN AGAIN. It was three or four years ago, and I still check the tub and surrounding area with great caution each time I run a bath.

Also, typing that made me itch all over.
posted by Elsa 12 January | 14:59
Jesus christ where do you people live?
posted by jabyrd3 12 January | 15:03

*nearly faints*

Jesus christ where do you people live?

I know, right? New England! Partly because of the distinct lack of bugs, snakes, etc. But the old houses tend to harbor...things. Also, there's often proximity to woods.
posted by Miko 12 January | 15:13
I'm in New England too, though I saw biiiiiig greenish centipedes when I lived in Chicago, too. We see only the occasional centipede here, but occasional is MORE THAN ENOUGH I HATE THEM OH GOD.
posted by Elsa 12 January | 15:28
I love bugs, always have. I'll handle spiders, beetles, whatever - but would rather die than be in the same room with a house centipede. I effing HATE those things. They are creepy, can sting you, crawl on you in your sleep, and eat spiders (which I'd much rather have in my house). So all house centipedes must die.

Sometimes sitting on our deck in the summer or fall, I'll see one skittering across the side of the building, grab whatever is handy and smash it. Without thinking, I once used my sweatshirt sleeve to moosh one. I immediately realized what I had done, tore the shirt off, and threw it on the ground for the BF to deal with. There was no way in hell I was going to deal with all the twitchy leg bits.

The BF is now the designated centipede killer. I just run, screaming "GETITGETITGETITGETIT!!"

Then once, while the BF was on a work trip, there was a HUGE one in our bedroom on the wall near the ceiling above the TV. Even with the extender hose on the vacuum, I couldn't reach it. My flailing scared it, it tried to run, but fell to the floor and I couldn't find it. I spent the next 20 minutes standing on a chair in the bedroom, evaluating my options and ended up sleeping in the living room that night.

The worst is when someone has no idea what you're talking about, although you're sure they would recognize one, so you google 'house centipede'. But with a few google images appearing on the main search page, it becomes the most horrifying search ever. I know there are references for my previous stinging humans comment, but I'm too scared to search for links.
posted by youngergirl44 12 January | 16:53
Also, if I ever saw one soaking in the bath with me, I'd simply die. I don't know how you survived, Elsa. You are a stronger woman than I.
posted by youngergirl44 12 January | 16:56
The BF is now the designated centipede killer. I just run, screaming "GETITGETITGETITGETIT!!"

That's how it works out at our place most of the time, too --- though I do try to kill the fuckers myself, and when I succeed, I strut around like Jack the Giant Killer. Okay, like Jack the Shaky-Kneed, Near-Vomiting Giant Killer, but whatever.

OH the web searches! I'm writing something that has required a couple of bouts of researching centipedes. I keep thinking I'm dealing pretty well with the images and information, but then I go to bed at night and ITCH ALL OVER and have to get up.
posted by Elsa 12 January | 17:04
Even with the extender hose on the vacuum, I couldn't reach it.

Hahahahahahaha, I once sucked a giant ceiling-crawler one into the vacuum cleaner, then had awful impossible thoughts of it somehow surviving and finding its way out again.

So I fed a handful of dried chickpeas into the vacuum, thinking (well, not thinking, obviously, because this is nutbar insane not-thinking territory) that the hard pellets of chickpea hurtling into the vacuum bag would smush it if it wasn't smushed already...

... then I started to wonder if I was just FEEDING it.

Then I noticed that this was completely insane, so I decided to pretend none of it never happened. La la la no bug ever!
posted by Elsa 12 January | 17:09
OMG, Elsa. I'm crying from laughing so hard. Chickpeas!
posted by youngergirl44 12 January | 17:21
Elsa, are you Mr. Bean?
posted by Atom Eyes 12 January | 17:27
Oh... that would explain some incidents.
posted by Elsa 12 January | 17:29
Also, Atom Eyes, how perceptive of you to visualize it accurately: that centipede-chickpea-vacuum-cleaner episode definitely had a whiff of that mute crazy-eyes, frantically deliberate Mr. Bean vibe.


posted by Elsa 12 January | 17:32

I probably forgot to mention the part where in all mr. lfr's sweary, frantic, flaily-spastic shop-vaccing of miller moths, the best part / punctuation to the entire performance is where he opens the patio sliders and chucks the entire thing out onto the back lawn "so they can fucking die out there without fucking climbing out of the fucking thing". He's normally a gentle lad, honestly, but miller moths, they seriously piss him off.

fortunately our shop vac is a thirty-some year old DeWalt hunk of steel, so it basically just leaves divots in the lawn when he does that, and keeps on working despite the abuse.

someday I'm going to surreptitiously videotape one of his moth-vaccuming rampages and post it up on youtube, I swear.
posted by lonefrontranger 12 January | 18:14
posted by Elsa 12 January | 18:18
OMG, this thread. I'll never complain about the spider crickets again. o_0
posted by JoanArkham 12 January | 19:49
Streaker fail. || It's a Welcome New Users thread!