Sunday, September 18, 2011

Turkeys and Moths and Raccoons, Oh My!

Jack Hanna could totally come to my house and do a show. He would not even have to bring any animals with him. 

First, he could do a segment on wild turkeys:

Gaggles of turkeys wander the streets in my suburban neighborhood. While it's true we live at the edge of suburbia, almost in the country and also there are acres of open land at the edge of the neighborhood, it's still a fairly dense suburban neighborhood. I thought it was sort of quaint and almost cute (mainly cuz there's always a bunch of babies in the gaggle) when we first moved into the foothills from the city and spied turkeys wandering up the sidewalk. Turns out, there is nothing cute about turkeys in your yard. Their poop is huge and they kick bark all over the walkways and grass. Now when I see turkeys in the yard, I let the dog out to chase them. Turkeys probably have really small brains, but each summer it only takes a few times of the dog chasing them to get them to avoid our yard. Last week, the 5 y/o boy comes up to me and whispers, "Mom, there are turkeys in the yard. I'm going to chase them with my sword." Since the dog is out of town (she spends A LOT of time at my parents' house, but they aren't dognappers), this seemed like an okay idea to me. Very stealthily the 5 y/o opens the front door, plastic sword in hand, and runs at the turkeys yelling and waving his weapon. The turkeys flew across the street into the neighbors yard right quick. It was hilarious. My only regret is that I do not have it on video. Next time.

Next, Jack could introduce his viewers to the Indian Meal Moth: 

We are at war with the Indian Meal Moth aka the Pantry Moth. 

A few weeks ago Scott says to me, "I killed a handful of moths on the pantry ceiling last night and then some more this morning."

Me: "Yuck." 

And then we moved on with our lives killing moths here and there. I didn't really give it that much thought. I briefly considered it and decided they were coming in from the back slider which isn't too far from the pantry which is currently doorless (the doorless pantry is a whole other story best saved for another post) and were attracted to the light on the pantry ceiling as that seemed to be the general area where I always saw them. After the fact, Scott has said he figured the moths had infested the house, but it didn't occur to him they were in the food. Scott has a Bachelor's in Biology. Granted he is not an Entomologist or even currently a Biologist, but I still think he should have been better able to connect the dots than I who have degrees not in science.

A few nights ago Scott calls me into the pantry, points to the ceiling and says, "Look at that!"

Me: Looking at what appears to be a small yellow worm "Ewwww. What the fuck is that?" 

After we smush it, we start tearing apart the pantry to see if we have more icky wormy things on the walls and shelves. Then we start looking in the food (I really hope you're not eating right now) and find many many more icky worm things. There was a ton of them in an old unsealed bag of mostly gone fruit and nut mix. We start throwing things out left and right. Anything with worm or cocooned worm evidence was tossed. Anything old and unsealed got tossed. We were totally disgusted, but thought we did a pretty good job of inspecting and killing. The next morning there were more icky worm things on the ceiling. BLECK! 

Scott headed to work and I got on the Google. It didn't take long to find out that we had Indian Meal Moths, the most common house pest around, and that the worms were larvae and the cocooned worms were pupae. It also didn't take long to find out that these assholes are hard to eradicate and the pantry need a much more thorough going through and cleaning out than had been done the previous night. I went out and bought new airtight clear containers for the flour, sugar, cereal, crackers, etc. I tore open every sealed box and inspected every cake mix, pasta bag, granola bar, can of soup, etc. for any sign of the Indian Meal Moth in any stage of it's life cycle. We had a bag of those little boxes of raisins and every single box had larvae moving around in it. GAG! 

I repackaged everything into clear containers. Even the individually packaged fruit snacks and granola bars came out of their boxes and went into ziplocks. The idea is if anything does have a teeny tiny egg hiding on it, the larvae will be contained and visible in the clear ziplock or container. I did consider tossing everyfuckingthing in the pantry, hosing it down and starting anew, but Scott talked me down and got me to throw away lots, but not everything, and focus on eliminating future food supply. Also, and I admit this is gross, apparently if you unknowingly ingest the eggs or even the larvae or a moth it's not harmful to humans. Skin crawling, gag inducing and disgusting, but not harmful.

I moved everything off every shelf and wiped down every bottle and can and shelf and crevice. The next morning there was another larvae moving along the wall. So like a crazy women I started tearing open anything not repackaged the day before which only included boxes of light bulbs and folded aprons. There were larvae and pupae in with the lightbulbs and on the aprons. ARG! 

At this point I am confident that I've thrown out or opened, inspected and repackaged every single fucking item in that damn pantry. Even so, we went and bought this pheromone moth trap thing that attracts the male moths. After having the trap in the pantry for all of 5 minutes there were 2 moths flying around and zeroing in on it. While I was glad the trap was working, I was amazed and pissed that they had survived my wrath. I am now going into the pantry and inspecting the ceiling, walls, floor and all the food approximately 50 times a day. 

Finally, Jack could do a bit about a raccoon that comes into our garage and eats cat food:

Scott and I have been suspecting that an animal other than our cats has been coming into the garage and eating the cat food at night. We kept finding the lid to the food storage container off and when we super sealed it we would find the whole container upside down and knocked around. I brought home a new bag of cat food the other day, made sure to fill the cat food bowl so the cats wouldn't be starving and tear into the bag of food, but found it torn open with long tears the next morning. Last night Scott her some noise on the back porch and upon investigation found a raccoon sitting on the other side of the screen door. It retreated off the deck to the grass, but seemed totally unperturbed by us shining a flashlight at it from the safety of our upper deck only accessible from our bedroom. Eventually it made it's way back onto the deck and around to the garage where it couldn't get in because we had closed the pet door with the cats already in the garage and thwarted the raccoon. I was worried it might start clawing at the door in frustration and trah the door, but it just wandered off. 

Scott says it may or may not be illegal to trap raccoons where we live, but apparently we can call some relocating/trapping service. He hopes that maybe if we call those people they can also relocate the squirrels that seem to have taken up residence under our s curved roof tiles and may or may not someday eat through the substructure of our roof and fall into the house.

Peace & Love :-).


  1. I'm about to tell you something horrible, so grab wine. Drink wine. Now listen: When I was a kid in central CA, we had those effing worm things in our house. My mom did the same things... ziplocking food, storing everything in sealed containers, sweep, kill, spray, kill... and every day, we had those damn worms ALL OVER THE KITCHEN AND PANTRY. Finally, my parents called in an extermimater...AND THEY HAD TO TENT OUR HOUSE TO FUMIGATE. I was in high school and had a giant red and yellow circus tent covering our fucking house for a week. Thank GOD I was pretty enough to counter-act the humiliating of a worm infested house covered by a circus tent, because otherwise, I might have never survived.

    I feel your pain.

    DIE, you fucking little yellow gross wormy things. DIEEEE!!!!

  2. FUCK! Does insurance cover the tenting? Do they give you money to stay at a hotel during the tenting? If I have to move out so we can be the talk of the neighborhood, I WILL be getting room service and living it up at a hotel. I may even drive the 30 minutes to one of the very nice hotels. The kids can miss some school while we party poolside with the room service. Look at me, making lemonade....

  3. Room service makes everything better. I have no idea about insurance, etc... like I said, I was in high school and pretty much if it wasn't about me, I didn't much care. We did stay in a hotel, which was awesome. But living down the shame of the circus tent took some time.

    I still remember the horror of dumping a cup of raisins into oatmeal cookies and seeing a clump of worms fall out of the bottom of the cup... *hurl*

    That was a dark, dark time.


What say you?