Wednesday, July 15, 2009

extermination

Before I get to the point of this post, let me first take a moment and tell you that I am having a hard time grasping the idea that today is Wednesday. I had a really great weekend that involved a bachelorette party that kept me out until 6 am. . . and let me just say, that sort of thing should not happen after 30. Then on Monday, after a couple of plane rides, I landed in San Francisco for a 24-hour whirlwind trip for work wherein I spent most of my time in Silicon Valley and was back on a plane by 10:30 last night which means I walked into my apartment this morning at 8 am and crashed until 1230, then returned to work. Phew. Did that sentence make you tired? I'm about to embark on another marathon of work meetings to finish up the week but before I do so I thought I would pause to tell you about something kind of gross. Yeah, I am not telling you about the fun and exciting bachelorette party (yet) or the running and kayaking of Saturday afternoon or the impromptu trip to Korea Town, Shake Shack and the Brooklyn Bridge from Friday night followed by a dance recital . . . no, I'm telling you the worst part of my weekend. The part where I woke up Sunday morning, err, Sunday noonish, craving waffles. Whole wheat waffles with oatmeal is what I wanted. Topped with blueberries and strawberries.

!!!!DISCLAIMER!!!!
Before I proceed with the harrowing tale of my Sunday afternoon, let me explain that if you are in any way squimish, have a sensitive gag reflex or tend to nauseate easily, please do not proceed. Just move along and wait for the post about the bachelorette party later on. There are no photos for a reason. No, this has nothing to do with blood or gore, just tiny little things that if you think about them too much you feel the urge to puke. For those with strong constitutions, proceed. All others, I understand if this is where we part ways.

I stumbled into my kitchen thanking myself for not drinking (since the lack of sleep was enough to leave me feeling hung over) and pulled out my waffle iron and plugged it in. As it was heating I grabbed my bright yellow melamine bowl, opened my New York Times cookbook for the recipe and removed the lid from my wheat flour canister and measured out the flour. Then I grabbed some quick cooking Irish oats and emptied the contents of the box into the bowl.

It was right about this time that I noticed some uninvited guests squirming around in my bowl with the flour and the oats - weevils. Blech. I know, I wanted to throw up as well. I threw it all away and struggled to know what to do next.

To the internet and google.

Where I learned, yes, they are weevils and do you have any idea the many, many steps involved in de-weeviling one's kitchen? No? Let me explain.

First, you must throw away pretty much all dry goods. All flour, oats, rice, barley, pasta, cereal, etc. is assumed to be infested and thrown the hell out. And the internet advises to seal the garbage bag and remove it out of your home as quickly as possible because as the internet explains - it only takes one of these horrifying pests to multiply into thousands pretty much instantly. Again, blech.

Second, for all future dry goods one must take the precaution of sealing it up and putting it in the freezer for good measure to kill any unseen eggs that might hatch and re-infest the pantry. I'm sorry if this is horrifying to read, just be grateful this wasn't your Sunday afternoon reality.

Third, vacuum out the inside of all cupboards. This involves removing not only all the dry goods that were just thrown away but also all the canned and bottled goods and any dishes that share the space. The salvaged goods were placed in a box that moved into the hallway and the dishes were all washed thoroughly in high heat in the dishwasher.

Fourth, scrub those cupboards with the strongest cleaner available. Then scrub a couple of more times for good measure. Even if it looks clean at this point, give it another scrub, just in case.

Fifth, go on a very long hunt for bug spray that specifically identifies weevils on the label. Stop at three drug stores and a hardware store before giving up but after being grateful that bed bugs, roaches, mice and all of the other pests listed on those labels are not your problem.

Sixth, vacuum again after spotting another creepy little weevil squirming around on the counter.

Seventh, discover that the one bug spray in the house (for the plants) actually lists weevils on the label and spray and spray and spray that stuff everywhere. Then close the cupboards. Then decide to spray a little more.

Eighth, order a couple of sets of sealed canisters online to house all future grain based pantry items.

Ninth, lose your appetite for most of the day.

Tenth, leave town for a couple of days to give the bug spray some time to work its magic.

That is as far as I have made it in the process. I know it worked because grossly enough, I was happy to discover dead - DEAD! - bug carcasses in my cupboards. Now I just need to find time for steps 11-15 which involves vacuuming and scrubbing those shelves down 2-5 more times with a strong disinfectant, re-purchase all my dry goods and put everything back in the cupboards so that the box of food isn't left in my hallway and the dishes aren't on the "safe" side of the kitchen. Happily, it seems, only one half of the kitchen was infested. For good measure I scrubbed down all shelves and counter tops but since I never saw anything creeping around near the stove, I felt comfortable leaving everything that was washed over there.

Now I just have to cross my fingers, say a prayer, throw some salt or chant whatever mantra is necessary to prevent these critters from creeping their way back into my home. Especially since Saturday I am scheduled for a bit of a bake-a-thon to make cupcakes for bridal shower favors . . . .

The one thing I have learned about prevention is this: freeze your dry goods after purchasing and store them in sealed containers. That way if you do buy something that is already infested (and apparently this is a common pest), you can kill them in the freezer before you ever spy them squirming around in your waffle mix.

10 comments:

Tiffany said...

Um, wow! I had no idea such steps should be taken. I found them once in my flour and just threw the flour away. Oops.

I have heard about the freezing technique, but I always seem to forget when I bring home new dry goods.

I'm sorry you didn't get your waffles; they sounded delicious!

the swope family said...

One question...
If you freeze and kill them you are then eating dead bugs with your baked goods? Right? Still a stomach turning thought to me!!

Mary said...

Ugh, ick and ugh. My skin feels crawly.

KamilahNYC said...

I shouldn't have read this.

Soul-Fusion said...

uh, yeah. The freezer just kills the microscopic eggs. BUT, the altnerative is eating live eggs until they turn into bugs that you see moving around in the flour. ICK. The other alternative, I suppose, is to stop eating. I'm more of the what I don't see can't hurt me.
And sorry Kamillah - I did give a disclaimer though.

Jen said...

Ew.

Sharon said...

Yuck! I feel your pain. I've had them also.
Grandma Cox has some stories about them from a few years ago. You will have to ask her, if you have the stomach for it.

michele said...

ewww. sorry.

hovergirl said...

I feel your pain. Refer to my prior post titled frass - or take a little google at the Indian Meal Moth. It was a major investment replacing all my spices. Because the meal moth? Can chew through plastic bags and cardboard. And anything they can't access with their jaws, well then they just crawl up under the lids of your spice containers and frolic in the threads of the lid. it turned me into such a violent person.

critts said...

Ugh I am so sorry! In Texas we have every bug/insect known to man and while I definitely have our pest control on speed dial I thankfully have yet to experience some kind of pest that take such enormous efforts to eradicate. Although sugar ants are pretty bad - I had those in Austin thanks to the neighbors downstairs.

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