Pantry Pests and Other Unwanted Critters
Call this country living a bit of a learning experience. I've learned about many different kinds of animals and insects here in the woods. One thing I had never encountered was a problem with Meal Moths. My mother always kept a sparkling clean house and we never had a problem with bugs. That explains how I didn't know what a cockroach looked like when I took my first full time job, which happened to be in apartment management.
I won't say my house is clean all of the time, but during our 23 year old marriage, we have managed to keep our house clean enough to keep pests away.
There's almost nothing I hate more than a bug in my kitchen.
So, imagine our surprise when we learned that what we thought were harmless little moths were actually a "pantry pest," or Indian Meal Moths, as nasty a critter as the cockroach and just as destructive to food - both human and dog.
It's not uncommon to have a stray moth fly in our house, we're usually invaded by ladybugs in the fall and thought this was just another critter that slipped in the door or an open window.
In all our years of having pets, we've never encountered this problem before, but apparently, these things usually hitch a ride in on dry pet food or treats, or birdseed - all of which we have in our pantry.
We realized we had a problem when we spotted more than just the stray moth flitting around the house.
When I learned that these icky things were probably nesting in our house and helping themselves to whatever was in our pantry, I immediately began researching eco-friendly ways to rid ourselves of them and their off-spring. I found that first, almost everything that is open in the pantry needs to be tossed. Thoroughly cleaning the suspected infected pantries with straight vinegar (including removing all of the shelves as these things are hard to spot in egg and larvae form) and cleaning all cracks and holes in the pantry will usually do the trick. (I even found nests in the round peg holes where the shelves can be move. Ugh).
I used a combination of Clorox spray (purchased before my quest to go chemical free)and vinegar to clean the pantry. Luckily, I only found evidence of the moths in one pantry. Next, my husband bought a bunch of plastic containers that seal tightly before we brought anymore food home. Finally, I read that both lavender and whole bay leaves will keep them, well, at bay. I used both. I hear there are also non-toxic sticky traps, but we have yet to find them - although we're still on the look-out, just in case.
The only other bug problems we've dealt with here are spiders in the house, for which we also use non-toxic sticky traps. Spiders have a very big part in the food chain - they keep away mosquitoes and other pests away - they just need to stay out of our house.
In Kansas City, we also had a problem with ants each year - until we put out the Torro liquid bait, which was nothing more than a sugar/water/Borax solution.
My friend in PA frequently has a problem with mice, and I give her credit that they use live traps and relocate the critters far from their house.
I would like to know more about eco-friendly ways to keep pests from the home.