The invisible eggs of certain types of little beetles, moths and weevils may be in the dry cereals, various kinds of flour and rice and other dry staples when you buy them. When stored at 70 to 100 degrees, the little critters may hatch and proceed to eat your foods. This could happen any place along the food production and distribution lines or it could happen in your kitchen.
What can be done to prevent infestation?
1. Check the packages when you bring them home from the store to see if they contain adult pests.
2. Because these pests can eat their way through paper and plastic, store dry staples in glass or plastic containers with tight lids in as cool a place as possible such as cupboards near the floor.
3. If you want to be sure the eggs do not hatch, place the food packages in the freezer at 0 degrees for three days. This will kill all but the most resistant of the eggs of the various species that might be present.
4. Heating at 120 to 130 degrees for two hours will kill all stages of insect life in stored products. Use a thermometer to check temperature. Spread the products in thin layers and stir from time to time. The quality of some products may be damaged by heat. Fats and oil may go rincid, protein quality may be lowered.
How to get rid of an infestation.
1. Check all dry products including dog food, bird seeds and spices. Dispose of any infested products.
2. Vacuum shelves, cupboards and cracks using crevice attachment. Empty the sweepings outside the house as soon as possible, so that the insects do not escpae and reinfest the area.
3. Wash the shelves and containers with a strong, hot-detergent solution and rinse well before restocking.
This column is reprinted from the Berkeley (Calif.) Co-Op News.