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The Weevils & Me

The sole purpose of this post is to make amalah.com the number one Google search result for anyone looking for "goddamn+flour+beetles+must+destroy+haaaate."

So. We discovered a little bug problem in our kitchen. Wee, wee little bugs.

Noted bug wrangler Steve Dirwin, aka Flour Beetle Dundee, is on hand today to provide a little background information about the yicky, nasty bugs.

Amy: Good morning, Steve.

Steve: Crikey!

Amy: Tell the nice people about the Confused Flour Beetle.

Steve: Amy, the Confused Flour Beetle is a gorgeous little crittah. Flat, shiny-red and elongated, it can grow to a massive 1/8th of an inch long! Almost the size of a grain of rice! Crimeny! It looks just like the Red Flour Beetle, except for a straight-sided thorax and four-segment antennae. In fact, you can only tell the difference between these little guys if you stick your thumb up their assholes.

Amy: Well, there's no need to do that.

Steve: Are you sure? I can demonstrate...

Amy: Am sure. Where do these bugs come from?

Steve: Most people bring them into their homes straight from the store. They can lurk inside any innocent-looking bag of flour and then take over from there. Within a few weeks you've got yourself a full-scale infestation, with the little buggahs crawling through all your dry goods, even chewing right through unopened packaging!

Amy: Ew. I'm all itchy now.

Steve: And then they've got free reign...feeding on your flour, cornmeal, chopped nuts, cereal and rice...creeping through the pet food and the chocolate chips...chomping away at your crackers and pasta and the microwaveable oatmeal packets...laying eggs in the raisins and Duncan Hines brownie mixes...

Amy: OH MY GOD! STOP!

Steve: Females lay about three to five eggs every day, with the wormlike little larvae hatching in about five days. Eggs are covered in a sticky, milky-white substance that adheres to...

Amy: This is because I wouldn't let you stick your thumb up the bug's ass, isn't it?

Steve: Come on! This is fascinatin' stuff! Look at this gorgeous little guy! Look what happens when I throw some cracker crumbs his way!

Amy: I don't want to look, and you can't make me.

Steve: Crikey!

We're pretty sure our personal little infestation started with an honest, homey-looking bag of organic bread crumbs we purchased at Whole Foods. The bag was closed with a simple twist-tie, as vacuum seals are probably killing our wildlife and leaking deadly toxins into our bread crumbs, and don't you want to support your hardworking local bread crumb co-op that doesn't go for that "fancy" "corporate" "packaging" instead?

(I'm thinking of printing up t-shirts that say, "I spent twice as much on my groceries and all I got was this lousy beetle infestation." Either that, or "Fuck You, Whole Foods.")

To be fair, we were kind of asking for a bug problem. We're sort of...lazy like that.

Case in point: roaches are a fact of life for any city-dweller, yet I always forget to replace the 473 roach traps I have strategically scattered throughout my tiny condo.  That is, until I pull back the shower curtain one morning and WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT IN THE TUB OH MY GOD IT'S A ROACH JASON JASON JASON COME DO SOMETHING WHILE I SHRIEK IN HELPLESS HORROR FROM ATOP THE SINK.

Then I remember to go buy 500 new traps that very day. Six months later? Rinse, repeat, etc.

But our cabinets! Oh, what a disaster they were. I own three airtight glass canisters for flour and sugar and such, but I kind of missed the point of owning airtight glass canisters. I'd buy a huge bag of flour, dump half of it in the airtight glass canister, then kind of just roll up the bag and shove it in the back of the cabinet with the cornmeal and the rye flour and the other bags of grains that I bought when I was totally planning to use my breadmachine on a regular basis.

I currently have no idea where my breadmachine even is.

And every Christmas I decide to bake cookies. So I load up on chocolate chips and chopped pecans and brown sugar -- completely forgetting that I bought all this shit last year and never made a single blessed batch of cookies, and the stuff is still sitting in my cabinets, probably open, because I would at least rip open the chocolate chips to eat a few before putting them away.

Steve: So basically, the Storch household is a lush, fertile breeding ground for all sorts of nasty buggahs and pests, and you should never attempt to enter it without protective goggles and mosquito netting.

Anyway.

So what should you do when you discover a flour beetle outbreak?

First, you need to THROW OUT everything that's infested. Or, if you're like us, you just THROW OUT EVERYTHING, AND I MEAN EVERYTHING, BECAUSE EWWWWWWWWWW.

You may think I'm kidding, but I'm not. We threw out three cabinets' worth of food. I believe we kept some canned soup, a jar of roasted red peppers, three cloves of garlic and a bottle of vanilla extract.

(I'm still eyeing that vanilla extract very suspiciously.)

And unless you can immediately hand all the infested food directly over to the garbage truck, put everything in Ziploc bags.

Second, you need to vacuum like you have never vacuumed before. The bugs can apparently live for YEARS on crumbs in the cracks and edges of your cabinets. So vacuum the cabinets. And then vacuum the countertops. And then vacuum again and again until your husband appears in the doorway at 2 a.m., sobbing, begging you to put the vacuum down and come to bed, please.

Third, since we're talking about your kitchen, where you (presumably) will one day feel brave enough to store food products once again, you don't want to start blasting the cabinets with insecticide and bleach and other toxic cleansers. And that's not just the hippie-Whole-Foods-shopper in me talking. That's the all-knowing Internet and the surprisingly honest exterminator I spoke to talking.

It's hard to resist. I understand. My first impulse was to grab the Raid and smoke those little shits to oblivion.

But you know, I'd like to not poison myself. Or my unborn child. Am funny like that. Plus, I remember what happened in college after my roommate decided to store her bottle of Clorox in the same plastic crate as our groceries. ("This rice tastes like bleach for some reason." "Heh, you're so high." "Well, yeah, but still. This rice tastes like bleach.")

So after vacuuming, scrub the cabinets down with a low-toxicity cleanser -- or even just soap and water. The goal is really to just get rid of every remaining speck of crumbly food goodness that will keep the fuckers alive. The vacuum sucks out the actual bugs and eggs, so you really don't need to go all beserk with trying to poison them, as richly satisfying an experience as that may be.

If possible, remove the shelves from your cabinets when you scrub. We couldn't figure out why in hell the bugs kept returning to this one particular cabinet when we'd vacuumed and washed and sprayed and EVERYTHING until Jason removed one of the shelves and turned it over -- only to find a FREAKING BEETLE BUFFET of flour and cornstarch residue all over the bottom.

You can try pheromone traps or Baygon aerosol (to be used ONLY in cracks and crevices), but these tactics are mostly recommended for restaurants, schools or other "food handling establishments" (COUGH COUGH WHOLE FOODS COUGH), where the problem is widespread and recurring. I am hopeful it will not come to this for us, however, I will do it if I have to, I swear to God, so don't fucking PUSH ME, you evil little bugs.

And a couple householdy message boards recommended sticking bay leaves in infested cabinets and drawers. Actual entomology sites claimed this was an old wives' tale and completely useless. I figured, what the hell, and scattered bay leaves all over the damn place.

Guess what! It's an old wives' tale. Absolutely no effect at all, except to give the bugs something to hide under when I went on vacuum patrol.

Anyway. It's been a couple days since our last bug sighting. We're still vacuuming the cabinets like insane people, especially since those very cabinets are slated to get demolished this month when our shiny new kitchen gets installed, but OH MY GOD, I will CRY if I find a bug in my shiny new kitchen, so I'm determined to kill the outbreak dead dead dead.

(See also: Nesting, pregnancy.)

We also purchased an insane number of airtight containers for all pet food and treats, as well as any and all possible foodstuffs that we one day may buy, once the hurt and shame of the beetle outbreak fades from our hearts.

(To the lovely couple who recognized Jason and me at Balducci's this weekend: Hi! And thanks for reading. And for asking about Ceiba's eyes. And no, I didn't end up buying that package of bucatini pasta I was holding and weirdly gesturing with the whole time we were talking, because I just don't feel ready to commit to new dry goods, no matter how well-sealed or wildly overpriced.)

Comments

Polichick

hee! ick! (rinse, repeat)

Elenor

Sounds exactly like me when I found a mouse in my house. Except I kept muttering things about the hanta virus as well.

Zoe

Hee!

(I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you don't find anymore bugs, but damn, they make for funny entries.)

tani

laughing so hard i'm gasping for air.

"...I swear to God, so don't fucking PUSH ME, you evil little bugs."

lmao

suzanna danna

Dear God... you have succeeded in making me sit here at my desk scratching myself like I have gotdamn Monkey Pox.... AAAaaaagghh!

::shudder::

Now, I dearly hope you get rid of those damn bugs. Eeesh.

Lucy

Ugh. I'm currently experiencing my OWN infestation, although mine is of MICE. (shudder, shudder, shudder) I found my fourth mouse in 5 months in my kitchen a few weeks ago (dead in a trap, but still), and since then, I've DREAMED about the mice in my apt. every single night. I'm afraid to get up & pee in the middle of the night because EEEK - it's dark, and that's when the mice come out to play, and OMG what if I stepped on one, I would totally DIE....

Right now, in my studio apt. of about 400 square feet, I have at least 15 mouse traps. And still, that doesn't feel like ENOUGH. I had a dream last night that I caught two rats in my kitchen, and I woke up swearing that if that ever happened, I would just cut my losses and MOVE.

PaintingChef

OH!!!! Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew! I remember those little fuckers though. My mom found them in the cabinets when I was in high school and we had to throw out EVERYTHING. It was so awful.

CrazyRideLady

Stay strong. Do not give up the battle. Do not let the little bastards get one tiny little vile disgusting foothold again. You can win this war.

Oh, and another thing, this is good practice for when Squishy gets to be a teenager and begins bringing home undesirable friends. Remove them as you would any pest or rodent.

Good Luck!!

diana

Oh my god, my eyes are tearing! You are to f@#*ing funny! Good luck with those fuckers!

Franci

Hi there, you may also feel happy, because, just imagine the same horror thing happens when baby is around and you have more important things to do than evacuating these insects...

Good luck in that flour beetle war of yours.
Keep an eye on them! And fight!

callistawolf

So that's where Amy has been. ;) YUCK. I sure hope those bugs are gone for good and don't even DREAM of entering the pretty new kitchen.

Real Girl

Eeks. Have sneaking suspicion you'll get a whole lot more google search results for "thumb+up+asshole" than flour beatles and hate. (Although big hate on those beatles, and sooooo sorry.)

I swear, I am *horrified* at the number of google searches I get for real+girl+beauty+SOMETHING SO DISGUSTING YOU'VE NEVER EVEN IMAGINED IT BUT SOMEONE ELSE SO CLEARLY HAS AND EWWWWW!

Lisa V

You know I look forward to the posts years from now when Squishy brings home head lice from camp. You are so damn hilarious writing about bugs that I almost stopped twitching thinking about the three damn times we had head lice. But not entirely.

Roxie

By cracky, you've done it again! Sorry about the bugs (mine came with the Jiffy cornbread mix). For the love of "Steve Flour-Beetle Dundee", you made me laugh out loud! Great post!

andi

amalah! squishalah! i soo hope you survive this madness!!

honestyrain

the whole entire time i was reading that i was a)wriggling with ithc and fear that bugs were crawling on me and b)thinking about cleaning out my cabinets in case your bugs migrated thru the computer screen and into my house just from my reading about them. i do not think you overreacted at all. i would have thrown out all food...even the food in the fridge because oh my god beetles! you never know!

(and did you just think you should go throw out the open food in the fridge like the milk and that half wrapped sandwich? do it!)

erin

funny story.

After my mom and dad had been dating for a while he finally took her home to meet his parents. It was a weekend trip since they lived in a different town. Saturday morning mom sat down to breakfast and a few bites into her raisin bran realized it had a distinctly different crunch then she was used to. Then she noticed the little creatures floating belly up in the milk and other creatures scrambling for higher ground among the flakes. Not wanting to embarrass her future mother-in-law she CONTINUED EATING THE WEEVIL INFESTED RAISIN BRAN! Finally my granny noticed the look of distress on mom's face and mom fessed up to the source of the extra crunch. Thankfully they both survived and laughed about it for the next 25 years.

Zoot

I'm itchy now.

Erin

i read the entire thing in a horrible austrailian accent.
even your parts.
:)

(sorry about the bugs, but you have to admit, it does make for a good post because you get to do the fun austrailian accent!)

M&Co.

I put bay leaves in everything cause I read that they kill, or keep from hatching, those pesky bugs. Don't know if it really works but I've not had an infestation in awhile.

Lisa B

Don't feel so bad. We have brown recluse spiders. I have killed four in our bathroom in the past two weeks. When I picked up a shirt off the floor, two jumped out and ran away! And apparently, a bite is a pretty painful experience. And I have a 3-year-old. Eeek! Just saying that I can relate. We have invested in some serious spider killer and those little suckers' days are numbered. Hopefully.

Sarcomical

yes, i would have thrown it all out, too. out with the damned little monsters!

i'd say whole foods had better get their shit together next time they see you coming! ;)

Jessica

Ew. We had them when I was a kid. Pretty sure Jiffy cornbread was the culprit then,too. Course... we didn't find out we had them until Mom made chicken noodle soup. The black specks amongst the egg noodles were not pepper. NoNoNo. Jiffy products were not allowed back in the house for years.

15yrs later and I'm still suspicious of them and check the boxes (and now that I think about it- I inspect all flour type products) before I use them. Just in case.

But, yeah, the future lice? Will be a thousand time worse than this in terms of grossness.

warcrygirl

I must have gotten lucky; I opened a bag of cornmeal only to find it just crawling with the little bastards. I threw it out and haven't had a problem since. My problem is with ANTS. oh my god I can't get rid of the fucking ants! If I leave a single microscopic smudge of anything on my countertop the entire colony invades my kitchen overnight. I want them all to die.

To counter-act this (and not go into debt replacing food every week) I store everything in ziploc bags: from dry goods, to the chocolate chips (I thought I was the only one!), cereal (I just stuff the ziploc back into the box) and one year even the jar of peanut butter.

It's insane! Good luck with the cleaning/demolition/new kitchen. And sorry for the creep-out with my horror story of the six-legged bastards.

Kitty

I went through that. It sucked but we got them all out. Though, now I want to go check again. You know, just to be safe...

And LisaB - be careful! Those spiders are nasty and yes, if someone gets bitten get to the emergency room right away. Yikes! I hope your battle is successful too!

Shiz

EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW!

Also: Hilaaaarious. I heart Amalah.

Melissa

Ew. But is it possible to get a "Nesting Instinct" injection? They should bottle that stuff and sell it. My house is dirrrrr-ty but I can't seem to get up the energy to clean it.

And on a stalkerish note, I always keep an eye out for you around town. I used to work across the street from Ceiba (the restaurant, not the dog), but you were never there. :(

(Ok, I am really kidding about stalking you, but I did work across the street from Ceiba.)

laura

I see DEAD BUGS.

Amy

I feel your pain. I saw those beetles in my flour canister recently (it's supposedly air tight so I am guessing they came with the flour and can't get out) but I am too nauseaus to do anything about them right now. And I know they are there, lurking. Shiver.

Good job on the Australian accent. I felt like Steve was really with us.

Sara

Funny...and totally nasty. It happened to us AND we had the lovely addition of moths too! Fun times. So a good idea when purchasing dry goods, especially stuff from bulk bins -- put it in the freezer when you bring it home. If there are any buggers in there, (even the little eggs and just the thought is so horrible, but still), they'll die before any reproduction/hatching can occur. I found out that MOST DRY GOODS have some kind of infestation, but, you know, it came from The Internet, so....it may not be true.
Good luck with your shiny new kitchen!

Sara

Funny...and totally nasty. It happened to us AND we had the lovely addition of moths too! Fun times. So a good idea when purchasing dry goods, especially stuff from bulk bins -- put it in the freezer when you bring it home. If there are any buggers in there, (even the little eggs and just the thought is so horrible, but still), they'll die before any reproduction/hatching can occur. I found out that MOST DRY GOODS have some kind of infestation, but, you know, it came from The Internet, so....it may not be true.
Good luck with your shiny new kitchen!

Maeven

EWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Icky but very funny.

My own infestation at the moment is earwigs. I've flushed 5 of the little bastards in the past 3 weeks. They all lurk in the kitchen, waiting with their pincers of doom to pinch me when I change the cat's water.

And now they are calling in reinforcements. I killed some sort of centipede in the kitchen last night.

Damn those six+ legged freaks! Anything with that many legs does NOT belong in my home.

But will my cat protect me from these monsters? Noooooo. Unless it squeaks, he can't be bothered to chase it.

lakeline

I would also like the Nesting Instinct Injection. My house just might get up and walk away to find a new owner that is less dirty.

Christian

i know this does not pertain to the post but i was at target this morning when i saw a bag that reminded me of the one that someone was asking about in this post. the one in raising helen.
http://www.amalah.com/amalah/2005/06/the_whateverday.html
anyways its not on the target website yet but they have it in the store and it's issac mizrahi. its a very large black suede hobo bag and its very deep.

Anna

I have a similiar ant problem. They are EVERYWHERE and they DO NOT DIE. Also, ants bite. I just learned that.

Mosquitos, however, are the Kings of Yick. Not so much the biting, or the itching, so much as the 3-am-trying-to-sleep-BZZZZZZZZ. Then you turn on the light, put your glasses on, shamble around like a zombie trying to catch that damn little regenade in the corner, then go back to sleep... only for the thing to come back ten minutes later. Rrragh.

Her Ladyship

Oh, I so feel your pain. When I got moths last fall, it took two visits to the dry cleaner's, three visits from the exterminator, and countless visits to the trash in order to make my place feel livable again. I'm still a bit suspicious of some of my closet's corners though.

jac

As someone currently living in Australia, I can confirm you do a mean "CRIKEY!" You forgot the "G'day, mate!" though. That bit's important. He'll throw you to the crocs if you don't address him properly.

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