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Aunt Norma's

Blog

Pantry Moths are Back Again!!

Posted on 15 March, 2016 at 16:57 Comments comments (23)
       With the weather warming up, you can expect to start seeing pantry moths again.  Often times, the eggs can go into a holding period, so to speak, from last season and not hatch again until the weather starts to warm up. Like many animals and insects, pantry moths can inherently know when spring is coming, and when it's time to start reproducing.  If you have spent the winter months moth-free, you may think that you are done with the pests forever, only to be shocked and horrified when you start seeing these pesky moths come spring.

    The best way to avoid a full-blown infestation is to get rid of them before they take hold again.  As soon as you see a moth, assume that this moth has hatched from inside the home from a leftover egg.  You should immediately check your food and make sure that it is stored in airtight glass or suction sealed containers.  I also recommend to put pantry items susceptible to pantry moth infestation (rice, flour, grains) in the freezer for awhile.  The easiest way to get a jump on a pantry moth infestation is to clean out the cupboard with Aunt Norma's Pantry Moth Spray and put out a Pantry Moth Trap.   Aunt Norma's system works by interrupting the life cycle of the moth, preventing a full-blown infestation.   

How to Get Rid of Moths Naturally: Trichogramma wasps

Posted on 16 December, 2014 at 15:10 Comments comments (8)
    So, I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was going to work up the nerve to try the natural predatory wasps that are supposed to eat pantry moth eggs.  I first heard of the wasps a couple years ago when one of my customers suggested that she might try them.  I was pretty shocked- I had never heard of the moths and also was pretty horrified at the thought of setting a bunch of wasps lose in the house to get rid of moths...??!!  Aren't wasps a bigger pest than the stupid moths??  At least the moths don't sting! But, in the name of all things pantry moth, I decided to face my fear and see if I could manage the wasps- to give you a first-hand account of how they are.

Trichogramma wasp moth controlI intentionally developed a bit of a pantry moth infestation (which is terrifying to those of us who have HAD a real pantry moth infestation...)  I know now that Aunt Norma's Pantry moth spray and pantry moth trap will get rid of pantry moths, so I wasn't too worried, but made sure to keep my grains in the freezer (except for a few things left out to feed the moths) just in case.  I researched several places to order the wasps, and finally decided on a place that was still able to ship them into the fall (most places only harvest/ sell the moths in the summer/ spring... so they are hard to get in the fall or winter- they are generally available from March 1st-September 1st).  They weren't very expensive (under $15.00), but I was surprised that the delivery was delayed a couple weeks- it seems that the wasp nursery must be a bit temperamental.  I began getting a little nervous with the delay in the delivery, as I was anxiously watching the pantry moth infestation starting to get a little out of hand.  I DID finally cave in and put out a pantry moth trap so that the infestation wouldn't get unmanageable before the wasps arrived.

Natural moth control  So the wasps arrived in a plainly wrapped paper bag, labeled "Trichogramma".  The man assured me when I ordered, that these wasps are tiny and that I likely wouldn't even notice them in my kitchen. I opened the bag to find tiny little cups, and placed them in my refrigerator until I had time to read the instructions.  The package sat outside my door for a day- so I hope the wasps are still OK.  According to the instructions, the trichogramma wasps come inside the pantry moth eggs...which freaked me out a bit as I realized that meant that I had really just been sent a sh##load of pantry moth eggs!  This better work. 

Get Rid of Moths NaturallyThe Trichogramma Wasps attack and destroy pantry moth eggs.  Shipped as pupae in the host eggs, glued to one inch paper squares, the Trichogramma arrive ready to hatch out as adults wasps.  The instructions state to "Release 5,000 per 5,000 square feet weekly, for 3-6 weeks." 
"Wait- did I read that right.... 5,000 wasps??!!"  I must admit that this is probably one of the scariest things I've done.  Even if they are TINY- this means that I am releasing 15,000 wasps (there are 5000 to a dish, and I received three of these...) in my freaking KITCHEN???? 

Kill moths with Trichigramma wasps     They arrived stuck on small bits of paper that look like strips of sand paper inside plastic cups.  These are the moth eggs (tiny little things) that the wasp are attached to...?  If I am understanding the instructions.  Really- they just look like little bits of dirt in a cup.  Supposedly, they eat the eggs!  EW!! But this means that they spend all of their time flying around searching nooks and crannies for the eggs.  (I get like this when am on a diet and hide chocolate from myself... hunger is a pretty BIG motivator!)  The tiny beneficial insects are claimed to be effective because they prevent the pest from reaching the destructive larval stage. The instructions state that the wasps will not be a nuisance to people or pets.  They are supposed to be extremely small and "you will not even notice them".  Well, in the pictures I've found, they look terrifying!  Also- they are supposed to leave once they have eaten all the moth eggs.

     I placed the little plastic cups with the wasps inside in my pantry and waited.  I will say that I didn't really notice tons of wasps flying around- but I definitely DID see them.  They would be on the counter- I also continued to see moths flying around- so I guess the wasps didn't arrive in time to get all the eggs before they hatched.   As with any moth treatment, it can take up to 3 weeks for the moths leftover to complete their life cycle (since the wasps only eat eggs- the larvae or moths that are already there will NOT be killed and you will have to wait for them to die off on their own, or put out a pantry moth trap or use Aunt Norma's Pantry Moth Spray.  
    
Pantry Moth Spray It has been about a month since I released the wasps (and, technically, I didn't really do it right b/c I released all 15,000 wasps at once instead of spread out over a few weeks- I guess I misread the directions the first time around.) I am still seeing the occasional pantry moth flying around, but I definitely am not seeing the volume of moths that I know would be taking over my kitchen had I not intervened.   I am going to conclude, for now, that the wasps WERE effective.  I should wait another month to make sure that I don't get another round of moths (which would probably not happen if I had followed the instructions correctly), but for now- it appears that the wasps worked.  I'm not sure that Trichogramma wasps are for everyone, creating a food chain in the state of nature in your kitchen is not for the squeamish! 

I would love to hear anyone else's thoughts or personal experience with these wasps.  Please comment below!
    

Get Rid of Pantry Moths before the Holidays!

Posted on 24 November, 2014 at 1:23 Comments comments (0)
How to get rid of pantry mothsDon't let bugs or moths ruin your Thanksgiving Dinner!  No one welcomes the idea of sitting down at the table, after hours of slaving away in the kitchen, and watching your guests' faces turn to horror as somebody finds a worm in their wild rice stuffing!  Seriously, honey, you might never live it down.  You know how cousin (fill in the blank) likes to gossip and has always been jealous of your pie crust anyways.  She's been waiting for a chance to take you down a few notches, hehe.    You can't get rid of pantry moths overnight- but you CAN make them disappear before the big day.   Aunt Norma's non-toxic bug spray and non-toxic pantry moth spray can help you put this problem to rest before it leads to disaster and holiday humiliation.   

    The problem is, once you have seen a moth or a bug in your food storage area- there are bound to be more that you haven't seen...and they aren't going to leave on their own... you are gonna have to escort them out.  It seems counter-intuitive that the bug spray they sell that has enough chemicals to kill bugs is supposedly non-toxic to humans...?  The why do I have to leave and have my pets out of the house any time the exterminator comes?  I'm just not buying it, which is why I created the Natural Pantry Moth Spray, non-toxic Bug Spray for your kitchen, and the new Bug Powder and Spider spray

Check out my advice page on how to get rid of pantry moths and bugs in the kitchen.  Good luck... or you could always pretend that your oven fizzled and you have to change the venue to someone else's house!

Pantry Moths in the Winter: Last chance to get rid of them!

Posted on 4 November, 2014 at 12:23 Comments comments (0)
If you are dealing with pantry moths, you may think that, as the weather cools off, the moths are disappearing.  Many people make the mistake of thinking that this means that the moths are gone, only to find that they have another full-blown infestation as soon as the weather warms up in the spring.  The fact of the matter is that once the weather cools, the moths become lethargic, and the unhatched moths can go into somewhat of a "hibernation" phase- where they remain inactive and the process is slowed down enough that you will not be seeing adult moths during the cold months.  That is why it is SO important to treat the moth infestation before the winter comes- or you will miss your chance to get rid of them, and they will STILL be hiding in and around your food (where you can accidentally be eating the larvae and eggs) until spring comes and they finally hatch into adult moths.  It is imperative that you take action now to prevent the moths from settling in for the cold months. 

To understand this hibernation phenomenon, we must go over the life cycle of the moth.  There are four stages in this insect's life cycle: 

1).  EGG:  These are very small- 0.5 mm- and cannot be seen by the naked eye.  The eggs start hatching in 2-14 days (unless the weather is cold), usually beginning in April. 

Pantry Moth Larvae2).  LARVAE:  This is the most destructive stage, and constitutes the majority of the insect's life.  This stage can last from 2 weeks to a full year!  In this stage- the moths look like tiny little white worms/ caterpillars.  When they hatch from the eggs, they are very hungry and start feeding immediately.  This is the only stage of the organism that feeds- so these are the buggers that are ruining your pantry staples.  As they feed, they produce silk that loosely binds to food fragments, appearing like webbing or cobwebs that clump food together.  This can be the first sign of an infestation. 
Pantry Moth Silk WebbingThe worms are capable of chewing through plastic bags & thin cardboard, and they can often be seen on ceilings and countertops.   Mature larvae usually leave their food supply and wander about looking for a place to pupate (make cocoons).  In heavy infestations, pupation may occur far from the original food source, which is why you can find the larvae in weird places throughout the home.
     Temperature greatly affects the life cycle.  Moths in areas with temperatures of 86 degrees & higher generally complete a life cycle in about half the time it takes moths in regions of or around 68 degrees F.  Moths express lethargy in temperatures led than 50 degrees F.  The larvae undergoes hibernation and metamorphosis inside a cocoon to avoid harsh climates & comes out as a moth for reproduction in the favorable time which is synchronized by a biological clock in the moths as well as ecological conditions prevailing there.  During the fall and winter months, the larvae will often enter diapause (a form of hibernation) only to emerge as adults when the weather warms in the spring, and live out the remainder of their life in that general area.   

Pantry Moth Cocoon3).  PUPA:  Upon reaching maturation, pantry moth larvae spin cocoons in the wall of their habitat, be it grain barrel or pantry.  The chrysalis (pupation) takes four to 30 days. 

Adult PAntry Moth Pic4).  ADULT:  Mature brown moths emerge from the cocoons and stay within the habitat of the larvae while searching for a mate.  The sole purpose of the adult pantry moth is to mate and lay eggs, and they only live for 5-25 days.  Females lay between 40-400 eggs on or adjacent to food.  They usually fly in a zigzag pattern at dusk & through out the night.  

Aunt Norma's Pantry Moth Spray, Pantry Moth Trap     It takes about a month to complete the whole life cycle, in the best of conditions, there can be 5-8 generations per year, and the hatching can overlap (which means that you could constantly have pantry moths in various stages for up to a year).  This is why it is so important to interrupt their life cycle before you perpetuate a continual infestation.  Being in the month of November- the moths are slowing down, and you are about to miss your chance at getting these pests before they hunker down for the winter.  So, let's get busy and clean out the pantry!  It is especially important to place any grains that you plan on storing long term in the freezer (to kill any eggs or larvae) and also to thoroughly wash down the delves, and storage areas like under the sink and where you keep the pots and pans as these can be prime real estate for hibernating/ pupating moths to hide out during the winter... biding their time until spring appears!

Get Rid of Pantry Moths!!

Posted on 14 August, 2014 at 9:35 Comments comments (9)
Hi, everyone- just post your comment or question here by selecting the "comment" button underneath any post at all- I will receive the comment and it will open up the question to advice and shared experiences from other members of the forum as well. 

PAntry Moths in Cookbooks:

Posted on 28 July, 2014 at 10:38 Comments comments (1)

Q:  I left out the honey, canned beans, oil & vinegar...i guess i have to put it all away?

AN:  Ok- the canned goods are ok- but you should peel off the labels or wash the cans in hot soapy water. Honey...?  You just never know but I think you could do a visual inspection and see if there are any cocoons in the lid, etc.  Oils, vinegar- should be ok.   

 Q:  What I really seem to need is another refrigerator!  Oh to redo the 1970s kitchen! 

 AN:  I know- too bad this doesn't happen in the winter when you could just put things in a bin outside!

Q:  I am completely out of freezer room,  I was going to freeze the tea/spices/grains/etc. for a week then put those in the frig and put the other stuff that didn't fit in the freezer for its week of killing the larvae.

AN:  spices are a FAVORITE place for pantry moths to hide...) In a big cheap dollar store plastic shoe box.  That way- when I examined the various bins and bags every few days- IF there was evidence of Pantry moth infestation, I could easily identify which items were the source and toss the whole bag/ container.

 Q:  I figured the frig will keep them hibernating - i hope until i have room in my freezer...

AN:  The fridge will NOT kill them, but serves the same purpose as the Ziploc and plastic containers- you can see if something's contaminated when you open the fridge if a moth flies out.

 Q:  I did do the books at 180degrees for 10 minutes…s not enough to kill them...

AN:  It remains to be seen.  I've always heard you have to go hotter- but, Jeez Louise, 180 seems plenty hot enough to kill them!  Let me know...

 Q:  I only saw old worm casings and webbing etc in the books...nothing new

AN:  Ok, be VERY careful with the cookbooks, then.. they are clearly inhabited by moths- even if the webbings looks old. 

 Q:  I sprayed as much as i could and ordered a new refill bottle today.

AN:  Have you had any luck with the traps at all?  The combo really works- but you will have to sit on it a bit... it can take awhile for the moths to die off completely- especially in the hot weather.  Keep me posted!
 

 

Questions about Pantry Moths: Cook the Cookbooks?

Posted on 27 July, 2014 at 23:07 Comments comments (0)

Aunt Norma:  First of all let me tell you that I am SO SORRY that you are dealing with these miserable pests.... it's enough to make you go bonkers!  Hand in there, though- you CAN win the battle and get back to your normal life.  Let me address your questions:


Q:  I want to deal with all the cookbooks as they def lay eggs in them.  Suggestions...oven? How long? Temp?

AN:  Oh my.  That's tough.  It's hard to cook or freeze them enough to kill the eggs without damaging the cookbooks.  I'll tell you what, Lisa.  If I were you- and if you have cookbooks that are valuable both personally or monetarily, I would actually buy a big storage bin (like from Target or Home Depot) or at the very least get a big trash bag, and put the cookbooks in and then toss in about a cup of Diatomaceous Earth.  (Google it- it's an all-natural organic shell flour that is 100% TOXIC to insects but harmless to humans and animals)... you can get it very cheaply on eBay or Amazon- just make sure you get the food grade stuff and be careful not to snort it or get it in your eyes when you are using it.  I would send you some but I'm out and headed on vacation so don't have any more ordered.. but I use it all the time.  It's not so great on the adult moths- mostly b/c they fly and they have to have direct contact with the powder for it to kill them...but if you are worried about eggs it will work on the larvae IF there are eggs and IF they hatch.  I don't think you can get the oven hot enough to kill the bugs in the oven without catching the cookbooks on fire.  If you decide NOT to try the diatomaceous earth- I would suggest putting the cookbooks in baggies and freezing them for a week or so. 


Q:  Can I leave dried beans in ball jars in the pantry or do they need to be refrigerated?
Now, during cleaning, and in general?

AN:  These are a FAVORITE of the stupid pantry moths...You should inspect each jar carefully and throw out ANY that have webbing or evidence of moths in them.  Open the lids and look around.  Place these in the freezer until the moths are GONE, and perhaps after that if you have room to keep them safe.

Q:  Do I need to keep crackers, rice cakes and teas in the refrigerator even after all pantry moths are gone from our home? 

AN:  Well... this is tricky.  When I first had pantry moths- I got so paranoid that I kept EVERYTHING in the freezer for months after the last moth was gone.  even cereal and cake mixes, haha)  Better safe than sorry- but as long as you are NOT seeing moths, then you can assume that it is safe to keep such items in the pantry... but be on the lookout for late bloomers- some eggs don't hatch until months after the initial infestation.  If you see even ONE moth- put your grains and goodies away for safe keeping and mist the cabinets with Aunt Norma's Pantry Moth Spray to keep the repellant scent fresh and protect your food from re-infestation.

Q: When setting up the pheromone trap, do I put it in the pantry, in the kitchen or elsewhere? The moths are in cabinets and pantry and cracks in doorway etc. (so not one location).

AN:  Place the trap out and the moths will come.  Do NOT put it in your pantry or moths hatching in other places will fly INTO the pantry with the food items.   I find the best place is on the top of the refrigerator or on a top shelf somewhere out in the open.  The scent of the lure works for about 20-30 feet, so one trap per floor of the home...the moths will find it. 


Q:  Thank you!!!!!


AN:  You are most welcome- please keep me posted.  This is just the worst to go through- but the good news is that you will have a sparkly clean, clutter-free kitchen when you are done.  I wish there was an easier way- but these moths are the dickens!  Good Luck!

 

Pantry moths Came back...?

Posted on 20 July, 2014 at 15:00 Comments comments (0)
QUESTION:  I have had these buggers for about a year now.  Got rid of the food and cleaned like mad and moved the rest of the food out to the garage. Got the pheromone traps and your spray and got them down to catching one or two a month. Moved it all back in and bam! Back to the problem, only worse!

So repeated the process, and we are still in the midst, but there are no moths in the cupboard, just elsewhere in my four story house now!! I've had the pheromone traps for a month. The first week - 18 new. Then 16, then 12. This week 47. None in the cupboards! Just elsewhere and there is no food in here! I don't get it! Are there any hard core ideas? I can't dismantle this 4000 square foot hundred year old house. So frustrating!  Any thoughts would be appreciated.


ANSWER: 
First of all- I'm so sorry that you are going through this! It sounds like something in the items that you were keeping in the garage were a source of the infestation, and likely still had eggs in when you brought it back into the house.  The eggs can "hibernate" for up to several months, so it's not uncommon for them to lay dormant and then when something changes or "triggers" them, they hatch (like moving them back into the house, or a temperature change...)

It is GOOD that you are not seeing them in the cupboards- that means that the Pantry Moth Spray has left a scent that is repelling the moths- so it is working!!  The problem is, though, that you are clearly still having moths that are hatching (either in the food in the pantry and then flying OUT of the pantry; or the moths have laid eggs in other areas of the home).  This is why you are seeing moths all over... they have spread and are looking for a). food and b). a place to mate/ lay eggs.  I can guide you through my 2-Step System to get rid of pantry moths.  It might take awhile to entirely get rid of them for good (you have to interrupt their life/ mating cycle and then wait for them to die off), but if you follow the system- you CAN get rid of a pantry moth infestation.

The two steps are:  
1).  Keep them from eating; and
 2).  Keep them from mating.  
It's that simple.  

The FIRST order of business is getting rid of the source.  Unfortunately- you will need to go back through the pantry items again- and likely get rid of much of it.  Try to think outside the box when inspecting your things if you are planning on keeping some- the stupid moths can lay eggs anywhere- and the larvae can wiggle into even the most unlikely of places. Think underneath labels, inside rims of spice jar lids...I even once found a larvae inside the lid of a Pepto Bismol bottle once... so they really can be in places that you wouldn't expect them at all.  You should also put anything that you aren't throwing out into the freezer or at the very least into a sealed glass container (they can get past anything other than a suction-type lid).  It is VERY important that your food is protected and that the source is weeded out, or the moths will continue to feed and therefor you will have an ongoing infestation.    The moths just need a speck or crumb to feed on and keep the process going.  

Now- keep a pantry moth trap out in the kitchen (but NOT in the pantry) for several months- even after you stop seeing the moths on a regular basis.  Because the eggs can "hibernate" and hatch when they are triggered by the weather or some other unknown cue from nature, you could have leftover eggs that hatch MONTHS from now.. IF you have a trap out- it will prevent the moths from taking hold again.  The trap lures and kills the adult males, so they cannot breed.  Only use one trap at a time or they kind of cancel each other out.

 That's it!  If you follow these guidelines and don't lose heart- the moths are gonners!  Please keep me posted and let me know if there's any other way I can be of help!  Good luck!


Deck the Halls with Aunt Norma's Pantry Moth Spray

Posted on 17 December, 2013 at 21:00 Comments comments (1)

Pantry Moths are BACK!!!!

Posted on 31 May, 2013 at 17:12 Comments comments (3)
So, As many of you have noticed, as the weather warms up, Those darn pantry moths you thought you got rid of last fall are all of a sudden BACK!!  "What the heck is going on?", you ask, as just the sight of a single pantry moth flying around the kitchen brings back those feelings of disgust and panic you felt the last time you had to deal with this pest.
 
The truth is, that although you may not have seen them in awhile, these moths are probably part of the original gang that you were dealing with before.  Under normal circumstances, a pantry moth egg/ larvae hatches in 2-14 days.  When the weather cools off, though, the larvae can go into somewhat of a hibernation mode, and they can stay in their lovely cocoon for months.  When the weather warms up, all of a sudden, these moths decide it's time to emerge.  As a single female moth can lay up to 300 eggs, it is unlikely that you got all of the eggs the last time around (especially since the moths can lay eggs ANYWHERE...like on the underside of picture frames or in corners of other rooms besides the kitchen).  So don't immediately assume that the moths are back in your food.   You likely can avoid a full-blown pantry clean out with just a few simple steps.  Keep in mind- these are probably just left over moths, so if you nip it in the bud, you can avoid another full-blown infestation. 
 
The very first thing I would recommend doing is putting out a pantry moth trap.  This is the most effective place to start that also requires the least amount of effort.  Just place a pantry moth pheromone lure trap someplace close to where the pantry is- like on top of the refrigerator.  A pantry moth trap will lure and trap the male moths, so that the breeding cycle is interrupted hopefully before it begins!  I would also be careful to protect the food in your pantry to prevent the moths from feeding on it.  The easiest way to do this is to seal all food items in glass or suction-lid containers.  I like to keep most of my grain products in the freezer to eliminate ANY chance of moth infestation.  Another easy trick is to spray an insect repellent, like Aunt Norma's Pantry Moth Spray, around the cabinets and shelving.  Be sure to use a NON-TOXIC spray if you are going to do this without removing the food first.  Aunt Norma's is made from natural essential oils so it is safe to spray directly around sealed containers (obviously not IN the actual food) to deliver the scent that keeps discourages moths without having to worry about chemicals in and around your food. 
 
If you follow these easy steps, you should be able to get ahold of a moth re-infestation before it becomes a big issue (or ruins your groceries!!).  Anyone who has spent countless hours cleaning out their pantry and throwing away hundreds of dollars of food knows that it is better to quash a moth problem before the moths take over.  Being vigilant when you first see a moth can prevent a lot of needless work and expense later.  You know what they say about an "ounce  of prevention"!!