Infestation!

Who knows where they came from?

Maybe someone left the door open a skosh too long, allowing one to wander in from outside. Maybe one rode home from the organic food store, hidden among the bulk almonds or granola. Maybe one was hiding in a brown paper sack or in a reusable cloth bag stored in the car.

Wherever they came from, they arrived last year. My husband, Jim, who notices such things, looked up from his Kindle.

“Did you see that?” he asked. I think it was a year ago January.

“Was it a bug? If it was, you know I don’t want to see it.”

“A moth,” he replied. “Just a moth.”

We kept seeing ‘just a moth’ for weeks. I cleaned out the large pantry and set up moth traps. The problem seemed to diminish. We still saw them, but only one a week. Or two. Or five.

Beset by a series of domestic crises, including a basement flood, we used fly swatters to kill whatever moths we noticed as they fluttered by. Then, as if we hadn’t had plenty of warning, I noticed a swarm of moths sitting on the dining room ceiling. Our pantry moth traps were loaded. I went to make a cup of coffee and three fluttered around the pot.

“Damn,” said Jim. “We have to do something before they destroy our clothing.”

Google to the rescue. Pantry and clothing moths are different. Pantry moths flitter and fly. Clothing moths do not like bright light, so aren’t often seen. Clean everything, said the experts on Google. Use heat to kill the eggs.

And so, it began. Cupboard by cupboard we emptied the kitchen. Every dish, every bowl, every bit of silverware went into the dishwasher on high heat. We scraped shelf liners off the shelves — that adhesive is meant to be permanent – using fingernails and straight-edged razors. First, we scrubbed, then we scoured, and then we sanded each shelf. New non-adhesive shelf liner was installed.

Moths flew out of each cupboard we opened. Not many. Two or three. Until we reached the cupboard where we keep the cereal.

Cereal is a contentious topic at our house. I don’t eat cereal, having excised all wheat products from my diet. Jim eats it every morning. I ignore this, in my opinion, unhealthy habit because Jim is months from his eightieth birthday and should be allowed to eat whatever he pleases.

Still. The cereal is his. This fact becomes important in assigning blame for the infestation.

In the cereal cupboard, we found hundreds of moths, together with the nasty, cigar-shaped strands of eggs. Yuck. We threw the cereal away. We threw the raisins away. Both heaved when we opened the boxes. Double yuck.

We scrubbed, then sanded the shelves, and finally used a hairdryer to put heat on the wood. Despite everything, the moth trap tent we put in that cupboard overnight rewarded us with three dead moths.

A week later, the kitchen has been returned to its former neatness, much cleaner, and hopefully, moth free. As we sit, Jim is watching golf on TV and I am writing this, he utters a curse and exclaims, “Look at it!”

Oh no. Another moth…

Thanks to pixabay.com for the public domain photo of a moth.

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