Never sure of tomorrow and our economy, I have taken steps to be a bit self reliant. With the crazy weather we can have at times here in Texas, being able to eat when getting to a store is impossible is also what I prepare for. I am working on a garden and have a dehydrator to take care of storing what I am not able to use when harvested. I got the chickens for fresh eggs and in time.. meat. I pick up stuff like beans and rice when it goes on sale at the supermarket and try to store it away for emergencies. I am spending some time learning to cook with what I am storing so it does not go to waste. I have also been trying to stock up on flour when it goes on sale, especially now that I make my own bread. I do not spend a lot on the items I buy to store as I get a little here and a little there.. but over time I am sure it adds up. So I am just a bit miffed at the little black bugs I found in the flour and rice this weekend. And if that is not bad enough, I found some in one of my kitchen drawers. Time to declare war on the buggers.
Going forward everything is going into empty 2 liter soda bottles I have been saving. Initially I was going to store water in them, but I have not gotten around to filling them at this time. However, I had been storing my beans in the bottles as they are easier to store than in the bags they come in. And now with the bugs in everything, the flour and rice will go into them as well.
I spent some time this weekend putting some freshly bought rice, flour and beans into the soda bottles. After I add the foods to the bottles I cut off the cooking and nutritional information and using clear packing tape, tape the labels to the bottles. The labels are protected from any moisture, let me know what is in the containers and having the cooking directions keeps me from looking them up a when I want to cook them. I also take a fine point sharpie and add the date I put them in the container. If there is a use by date I add that as well.
To get the food into the bottles I use a funnel created by cutting the top off another 2 liter bottle. Then I put it inverted on the bottle opening and lightly wraped some of the packing tape around the two. It is not super secure.. however.. it does free up your other hand to assist in pouring the contents from a bag into the bottle. This works great with the rice and beans. The flour gets a bit messy so I recommend transferring from the bag to bottle be done in the sink. I found it difficult to pour a 5 pound bag so I grabbed a 1/4 cup measuring cup and scooped and poured into the funnel until the bottom of the flour bag was reached. It was then no issue to pour the remaining flour into the bottle. You will need to periodically tap the bottles to settle the contents. That will also free up additional room at the top to add more of what you are storing. I feel these bottles are going to be a much better way to store things the bugs like to infest as they cant’t get through the plastic and the lids screw down tight. If pushed it would probably be no issue to seal with some wax to make sure there is no nook they can slip by and into my food.
It is important to know your enemy, so I went searching for information on my bugs. What I found HERE was:
The two most common types of pantry weevils are the granary weevil (Sitophilus granarius) and the rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae). They are often referred to as snout weevils. These little pantry pests are actually beetles; very small beetles that rarely get any larger than ¼ of an inch. Female weevils use their little snouts to drill holes in the casings of grains, such as wheat, oats, rye, rice, corn, barley, and various seeds and beans. Once the hole is drilled, she deposits an egg and seals the hole back up with a gelatinous glue-like substance that she creates all by her little self. The egg hatches after a few days, and the larvae uses its surroundings as a lunch box for about the next month. For this reason, it can be difficult to detect an infestation. Not only is it slow to start but the larvae are in hiding. Once grain weevils (a.k.a. flour weevils) or rice weevils present themselves, you’ve got a problem. A single female can lay up to 400 eggs, which means up to 400 more hungry bugs lookin’ for a snack. If you’ve experienced something like this, you’ll need to know how to control and get rid of weevils.
Eeeek! I have a problem. Now to get rid of what I have and prevent another infestation. Flour will go into the 2 liter bottles as soon as I get it home and then it will spend at least four days in the freezer. The freezing will kill off any eggs or weevils already present in the flour. I am not thrilled to think I may be eating frozen weevil eggs or young bugs.. but odds are I already have and I am not dead yet. They are not harmful to eat, just not appealing and we will try not spend time even thinking about it.
I am going to go through all the foods I have stored and throw away all that are contaminated. Throwing away may not entail the garbage can as I can cook up the rice and feed it to the feral cats, my dog Spencer or the chickens. The flour will end up in the compost pile. I no longer eat breakfast cereal, but it is recommended to check your sugar, grains, dried beans and legumes, and breakfast cereals for signs of weevils. I have some brown sugar stored, so I need to look at it and get it stored in soda bottles as well.
All foods will be removed from the shelves and the shelves will be cleaned. It is recommended that the shelves be vacuumed and wiped with soapy water. Make sure you get into all the corners. Rinse with water that has a little bleach added. I am not big on chemicals, but I may look at the labels of some of the bug sprays I have here and see if I can put an application of spray where I have seen the weevils. As common as they are I do not think you can get a pesticide that targets them directly. The reason being they live and breed in your food. A good class of pesticides to use are ones that are pyrethrins. Many are available that are sold to be used indoors and in food handling areas. Definitely do not spray the food directly. Recommended products are CB-80 Extra, Riptide Waterbased Pyrethrin ULV, and Konk Too. I will leave the doors open until dry.
Once dry I will replace the shelf liners then add the food items in their new containers.We will also look at adding some natural repellents. Bay leaves are a natural weevil deterrent. After freezing or heating your grains, you can drop a bay leaf or two into the storage container on top of the food product you want protected. I am going to randomly scatter a few leaves around the cupboard and shelves instead of putting them in the food storage containers.
Cloves are another natural deterrent for weevils and can be used the same way you would use the bay leaves. After treating your food with heat or cold, drop a clove on top of it before storing. Cloves can also be scattered around cupboards and pantry. I may try both the cloves and bay leaves.. I like the smell of both and especially the cloves this time of year.
An odd deterrent is matchbooks. Seems the weevils do not like the smell of the sulfur. To use, take a plain old matchbook, open it up, and set it in with your grains or pastas. I do not have any matchbooks so I will not try this one out at all.
Going forward we are going to do a better job of storing any food items we bring into the house. A stockpile does no good if it becomes filled with bugs and is not edible when the time it is needed arrives. Even if no natural or man made disaster happens, I want to be able to use what I purchase and not waste my money. Today I have declared war on the weevil. Armed with this new knowledge and a few days off, the days of the weevil are numbered.