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Kitchen Safari Episode 2….. 30, August 2006

Posted by babychaos in General Wittering, Play.
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Yep here we go again. Today I’m going to talk about Weevils and Confused Beetles.

My habitual guilt at the filth in my house increased tenfold last month as I had an attack of weevils… ugh! Imagine something like a thrip. Thrips are those tiny black things, sometimes called thunder bugs, which appear in hoards every hot summer. They get stuck behind the glass on your pictures and then die randomly like hyphens or escaped dashes from a dotted line. I look for a stylised pair of open scissors or the words “cut here” but I’m out of luck. Yeh, well imagine those in brown… plus the odd fatter definitely beetle-shaped thing and you have my flour cupboard.

Mr BC and I were equally horrified. I’m not sure what was worse, having to throw out about thirty quid’s worth of stuff or having evil weevils hiding in the crevices. It’s a food cupboard so poison is only an option for the brave. I’m not brave. I cleaned out the entire cupboard, paying particular attention to the gaps between panels and shelves but the weevils merely hid. I left it empty and they returned… with friends. For three days the cupboard contained nothing but the weevils and two decoy peanuts which I’d left there to try and lure them out. Every few hours I’d open the cupboard and squash any fauna unwary enough to have headed for the nuts. It was working but it was taking too long so I turned to my trusty friend in need, the internet.

“Most home owners at some time or another find insects in their flour, cereals, breakfast foods or dry baking ingredients in cupboards or other storage places. Infestations of this type are not necessarily the fault of the homemaker; the insects may gain entrance into the house as a result of buying some cereal product that already has become infested.” Said the first article I found, in other words, ladies…

It’s not your fault!

Hooray! I’m not the filthy hoowah I thought I was.

What are they?
The little ones are weevils, plain and straight, no apparent name. If I’ve identified them correctly, the fatter, beetled shaped ones are called “Confused Beetles”. These can be brown or red and are the principal pest in flour mills. What, exactly, they are confused about I never discovered although there may be another explanation. Both types are so similar that the life cycle scientists have uncovered is applied to both – presumably because they weren’t sure what they were studying. Ah yes, so the confusion is amongst scientists and not the beetles, perhaps. My confused beetles were brown…. or would that be red?

Further investigation turned up bad news. Unfortunately, once they’re there, that’s it. They’re so small it’s almost impossible to exterminate them all or at least to know for sure you have without insecticide. One site recommended spraying resmethrin, sumithrin, tetramethrin, permethrin or pyrethins – doesn’t that sound like a bunch of Harry Potter baddies? However, it went on to give dire warnings about keeping the spray away from foodstuffs, kids and pets, making sure it dried before replacing the contents and putting paper liners on the shelves first. No, I’m not brave or desperate enough for that yet.

Everything casa BC will have to go into storage jars from now on, then. Damn. I don’t like storage jars, they’re never big enough and I can never remember the sell by date of what’s in them. Worse, you always end up with a tiny bit in the bottom which you have to throw away when you buy more supplies or mix the two. If by some unlikely fluke, the jar is actually big enough to accommodate a standard supermarket portion of dried goods it seldom runs to the bag, too. Never mind, I can live with that if it means living without weevils. It’s all bug safe and the jars are full of pieces of torn plastic saying things like 08/09/08 or showing the picture on the front so I can remember which brand I liked best.

On the up side I did discover some other handy information….

Other handy information.
First of all, even though many of the pulses and grains we buy have the microscopic eggs of weevils and confused beetles already in situ (ack) they seldom hatch. Here in the UK it’s not often hot enough unless we get a July like this last one. Then they do. If the eggs hatch a small microscopic worm will eat the inside of the seed and eventually the adult will escape leaving a neat round hole – I could see these particularly well in an infested bag of split peas. That explained mine then, as they appeared towards the end of about the most boiling week of the hottest July on record and one lot were in a bag of wholemeal flour in a sealed airtight plastic box.

More good news, while you can’t cure without poison you can prevent. You can kill the egg by subjecting your dried goods to extreme temperatures so they will never hatch. Do this by cooking your dried goods in the oven for 10 minutes at 130 degrees C or over or putting them in the freezer for 24 hours. One site I found suggested you could cook or freeze infested foodstuffs to make them useable. I baulked at the idea of flour with bodies in so I binned everything and froze all incoming replacements.

Secondly, a kind, helpful lady called J K Skeet – I have no more info – on a Yahoo forum had this to say.

“I always use bay leaves in my flour. Sometimes the larvae are already in the flour products when you buy them. Check everything as soon as you get it home, or at least when you first use the product. The bay leaves really work. I don’t know what it is that sends the weevils away…maybe the smell. Put 1-3 leaves in a bag of flour, bisquick, even cereal. It doesn’t change the flavour of the food and you should be weevil free. It is very important that you clean your cupboards out completely by wiping with an all purpose cleaner and start fresh. Good luck!”

My cupboards are squeaky clean and fragrant with bay. The little scrotes are still appearing in ones and twos in some but as yet they’re not going near anything with the bay leaves in. That’s everything, so I am cautiously optimistic that we have a result.

Only time will tell.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Comments»

1. Anne - 5, September 2006

Bay leaves are a great idea. Just killed 10 of those stupid flying “hyphens” after taking out another 12 last night. So embarrassed … thought I had a clean kitchen. 😉 Anne in PA, USA

2. babychaos - 6, September 2006

Trust me Ann, if you’ve only had 22 of these things so far you’re doing really well. Right with you on the embarrassment front though, it’s just hideous. That said, I owned up to it in front of a local lady a couple of days ago and found she’d had them too!

So we know there are at least 3 of us! I hope that makes you feel less embarrassed… otherwise you can always join me as a member of the FGH club – Furtive Guilty Housewives!

Cheers

BC

3. Natalie Castro - 18, September 2006

I had my cupboards clean, free of any food. One day we noticed these bugs crawling inside our pots. They were not around the food, just under the sink, and where the pots are, which are beside the sink.
We had someone come and exterminate them with poison, and we are now not to clean the cupboards for 4 weeks. Well it has been 2 1/2 weeks and we have come across a few dead ones on the floor, or under the sink. We haven’t found too many so far, but this morning my girlfriend got up and she checked the cutlery drawer and she saw one, and it was alive. Did I mention she has a bug phobia! Anyway, now she is all panicking, and we are thinking they could be coming from a different apartment.
Do these bugs ever ever go away??? And how come they are not around food but only in the bottom cupboards??
I’m left a bit confused by all of this. Should we get the bug guy to come back and spray?
Any suggestions would be great.
Natalie


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