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Day 24: Not quite a vacation day

December 14, 2011

My mother’s frugal nature got the best of me; it’s even found its way into my vacation days. I don’t use those babies for just anything. I save them up for the big trip I take each fall. This year they were sending me to Peru, Dubai, Morocco, or maybe Greece. But with the house hunt, I decided to save money instead. So there they sat, two weeks of unused vacation that followed me into the next period.

To my disdain, I was forced to email my manager late last night asking to use one of them today. Instead of taking a day off to travel or do something fun, I had to spend it emptying cupboards and scrubbing my kitchen with bleach water.

Talk about a home-lesson learned. Sawtooth grain beetles decided to take a vacation in my kitchen. The name sounds much more gruesome than what they actually are. They’re tiny little things, harmless really. They don’t jump or fly, in fact, they barely move (when you’re looking). But they sure know how to make babies. They find grain products, like flour, pasta and cereal, nestle up and lay dozens of eggs.

The thing is, these eggs are probably already in your flour when you bring it home from the store. It’s when you let flour sit around for a while that the eggs hatch and the babies chew their way through the bag and find other goodies to munch on.

I always wondered why people wasted money on glass or thick plastic containers for their spaghetti noodles, cereal and such. What’s wrong with the box? Well, now I know. Turns out, that’s the only thing the critters can’t get through. Your unopened package of pistachios? Not safe.

Fortunately, a Google search turns up thousands afflicted with grain bugs, and there are a couple ways to prevent their spread:

  • Freeze flour and other dry goods for three days before putting into your pantry. This will kill any lurking eggs.
  • Store plant-based dry goods in glass or thick plastic containers.
  • If you find them, throw out whatever you can, pull out your latex dish gloves and scrub every nook and cranny with bleach.

The exterminator said I was doing everything right, that he would be of no help. And the insecticide I sprayed last week didn’t do a thing. Those damn bugs pranced right through it, unphased. 

At least I learned a thing or two on my vacation day. It’s not ok to keep flour on-hand for two years. And it may not be the flour at fault; you never know if your trip home from the grocery store happens to be a one-way flight for pesky little vacationers. Cross your fingers I got to the source today. I’d rather not spend another vacation day fighting bugs. And, Santa, please replenish my herbs and seasonings for Christmas this year. 🙂


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