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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Possible Food Waste--Beware

Larvae on the rim of a storage jar, horizontal in the glass threads.
white stringy stuff  on each side of one larvae-- pupae vacated.
No wasted food occurred here, but possibility without protection.
Can you see how they traveled round the threads and the flat lid
finally formed an impenetrable barrier?
Never use a peanut butter jar with plastic lid and no additional rubber barrier!

In the ongoing fight against pantry moths I have been cleaning as I could for months. It is slow, but I have found nothing in much of my food. On the contrary, I find the moths or larvae or pupa  in other places besides inside  foodstuffs. However, spilled food can be a lure. We may not be able to see the powdered milk on the rim of the jar, but the moths can detect food.

By the way, I put a plastic glass into the jar in order that the larvae show up better in the picture. The powdery stuff is powdered milk inside.

There was half a cup or less powdered milk in this half gallon Ball canning jar with a previously used lid. I use jars to protect all sorts of foods. I had not opened this jar in ages, so I decided to use the rest of the powdered milk for the hens' food in the morning and put pasta in the clean jar. I knew that any crevice, even under the labels on jars could be the place an adult moth would lay eggs. Still, I was surprised.
After I dumped the milk in a bowl, I examined the bit of powdered milk for larvae or pupa. None were in the milk. I took the jar, inverted it and put it under a fast stream of water in the sink. The larvae was stuck to the jar rim. As the water warmed, the larvae wiggled. Finally the larvae was washed away. It was a disgusting but enjoyable chore.
The Pantry Pest traps only target the males. A study said only one in eight males (think this was figure) who came near the trap, entered. That's discouraging.
Slowly, I am ridding myself of these horrors. Between the vacuum cleaner sucking them from the air and my electrified Bug Zapper, I am winning, but slowly. I am not capable of a whole kitchen cleaning right now or in the last year or so. I am sure I kill them in one place only to have them hatch someplace else and move to the cleaned place....sigh. Charlie is coming next week,; he will come and take away some foodstuffs and items from decluttering. Plus, he is going to repair things in the house. Everyone cross your fingers he comes. 

If you visit anyone with pantry moths, be very careful. I brought these home after a ten-day stay with someone who was storing bags of beans and rice in galvanized garbage cans in the kitchen. I opened the cans after seeing dozens of moths in the kitchen and far in the other rooms in the house. Hundreds flew out. ACK! My purse and luggage brought them to my home, despite my attempts and valiant efforts to shake thing out and launder them once I was home.

From now on, I will examine each canning jar used for dry storage, taking the lid off and examining the lid and ring, plus the glass threads. I really don't want to provide safe harbor for this pest.
Your turn
Have you fought pantry moths of any kind? Other than empty every cabinet and peel off the labels on cans, what methods did you use to get rid of these? Was emptying the cabinets your only recourse? 


  1. Linda,
    Our local Wal-Mart had a problem with these, and we apparently brought them home about a year ago. This was my post on what we did:

    Hope it helps !

  2. Jane,
    I am trying to copy and paste the link. It seems half the brain in my computer is gone! I will read your link before I ask you questions. I would be so angry if I got these from the grocery from an active infestation. I suppose that is why there was a special flat cart full of bug sprayers, the pump up kind used in gardens, sitting in WM the other night. Okay, let me try this again. I may go straight to your blog and search. Thanks.

  3. I've had pantry months a few times. I am pretty careful to store almost everything in glass jars and plastic containers. It is still very possible to bring some pests from the store. At store level you see them in the pet food, nuts, baking supplies and cereal. Sometimes they are in the packaging. They must like the glue that closes cardboard.

    Not too many years ago my husband and I toured a rice mill in Louisiana. This plant produced many rice based items most particularly flavored rice mixes. I was shocked at how "raw" and unprocessed the rice portion of the packages were. At one dock you could watch huge trucks open the bottom of their trailers and allow the raw rice to fall down into a hopper. From there the rice was moved into what ever sort of product packaging they were doing at the time. Basically no processing. I don't know why I was so shocked but I was! Grain products are dusty and the dust was everywhere! I can't imagine that there weren't insects and quite likely rodents all over that place. John and I have been on many food tours and most times the plant is very sterile and clean. This was not the case on this tour!

    Did you know that the dust in mills can explode?

    I know you also store products in jars. Do you have any idea where I can get new rubber rings (gaskets) for old fashioned canning jars? You know the ones that use a bail closure. I have several boxes of these jars but the gaskets are drying out. I also am looking for large rubber gaskets. Thanks!

  4. Janet,
    Yes, I did know that grain dust can explode. It sounds sort of scary.

    There are tolerances as to how many particles per whatever that are allowed in our food--bug parts, foreign matter, etc.

    I put all rice, pasta, flour, cornmeal and other items in the freezer for 48 hours before putting into jars. Sometimes, I put the food in the jar, tighten and then freeze for 48 hours. I do worry about getting too much moisture in the jars.

    Where did you go on a rice tour?

    Flour and such has eggs in the product itself, eggs that can develop. Yes, bugs do like the glue, but the eggs were put into the package.

    How about this site?;_ylt=A0oG7idaZMBQhnoA_4JXNyoA?ei=UTF-8&fr=csc_ymailminty&p=rubber+gaskets+for+jars&rs=1&fr2=rs-bottom

    There were several sites when I searched for "glass jar rubber gaskets." This is one of my favorite sites. I have cannisters that need gaskets. Hope it works for you.

  5. THIS IS WHY I'm promoting using the FOOD SAVER for individualized storage. It sucks all oxygen out of the plastic bag, and/or container. Freshness without an expiration date.

    (on dry food)

    1. lotta joy,
      I have always wanted a Food Saver!

  6. Thanks for the link to the gaskets.After the holidays I'm going to go through those boxes and get a good idea about exactly which sizes I need. I also have a lot of those jars with the zinc lids. I would be hesitant to store anything that might get moths in that type jar.

    The rice tour was Conrad Rice Mill in New Iberia, LA


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