Sunday, 21 January 2007

Cereal offenders

You don't have to leave the house to experience nature. All you have to do is buy vast quantities of flour under the delusion that you're going to bake your own bread (despite the wonderful bakeries nearby) and then leave it in the pantry for a while. Very soon, nature comes to you. My pantry is now infested with Indian meal moths, Plodia interpunctella.

Now, most people might regard this as something to be ashamed of. I'd prefer to look at it as an opportunity to learn more about pyralid moths.

Pyralidae is one of the largest families of Lepidoptera. It includes perhaps 30,000 species of which more than 1000 occur in Australia. (Not all of them in my kitchen.) Most of them are small to medium-sized moths. In many, the head is elongated into a cone shape. They also tend to sit with the front part of their body raised as if they're paying attention.

Although they don't eat much, caterpillars of Plodia interpunctella contaminate food with faeces, shed skins and silk. After feeding on the dry contents of the pantry, they crawl some distance to pupate. On emerging, the adults do not feed but flutter around for a couple of weeks, mating and laying eggs. There's not much you can do to keep the population down except freeze dried goods for a couple of days and store them in airtight containers. Plastic bags won't work, The little buggers chew right through them.

It's good to see that I'm not the only one who's had the ... ahem ... opportunity to get to know more about these insects.


Anonymous said...

They cover a lot of ground when seeking a spot to pupate don't they.
We set the walls to ceilings here squareset plaster, the little grubs love the return area from wall to ceiling as a spot to crawl to, to spin a cocoon.
(autostitch image)

It's how I know it's time to throw out the old flour and buy some new stuff when I notice a cocoon or three.

Snail said...

Kitchen's looking good!

Dawg, you don't realise how much potential caterpillar food you have until you have to clean out the pantry ... What a waste!