Pest problem 'a lot more prevalent'

By Hayley Hannan, Genevieve Helliwell of Bay of Plenty Times

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

Wriggling, white larvae and pantry moths are multiplying and taking over kitchen pantry cupboards across the country - with many coming from supermarket food, says a pest controller.

They burrow into sealed, packaged foods, lay their eggs and days later, larvae emerge. The cycle continues and they're almost impossible to remove.

Peter Erceg of Mr Pest Control said he was receiving an increasing number of calls complaining of the pests from across Auckland.

Mr Erceg said he used to log as few as six calls a year about the pests but was now being phoned up to six times every week with infestations.

"It's a lot more prevalent now than it ever has been, probably more so in the last four to five years. The problem is getting worse and worse, I get people ringing up saying we've got maggots on the ceilings.

"One guy said 'I've got my floor covered in maggots' and his wife was freaking out."

He said many unsuspecting supermarket customers could be returning home with the pests nestled inside.

"Honestly, I think it's coming in with a lot of the food products you're buying from the supermarkets.....I think it's quality control on a lot of the products."

He suspected products such as cereals, imported noodles, flour or peanuts in shells were being bought with larvae already inside.

The pest problem spanned the nation, he said.

Pest controller Duncan Kerr, a director of Bugs Or Us in Tauranga, said a number of people had called for assistance with pantry moths.

"People notice them if they have poor food rotation. If the food stays on the shelf for a long enough time, you'll see a full cycle if you don't clean the pantry out quickly enough."

Mr Kerr said the larvae were "already in the packaging" and once they were introduced into the pantry, they would pupate and morph into moths.

Bugs @ Bay Pest Control owner Stuart Marshall said pantry moths and larvae were harmless to eat but it would not be pleasant to find wiggling things in your cereal.

"The only way to get rid of them is to completely empty out your pantry, clean it and start again."

As well as a spike in pantry moths, the number of other pests like rats, mice, spiders, ants and cockroaches, had "certainly multiplied" in recent months, which was believed to be a result of the mild summer.

How to control pantry moths

* Buy smaller packs of dried food, especially if not used that often.

* Once packs are open, store all the leftover contents in glass jars with air-tight lids.

* When you notice webbing in a packet, do a thorough search through all pantry items. Once moths appear the problem is more serious. Act immediately.

* Clean up dry food spills immediately.

* Freeze infested items for two days to kill the weevils.

* Rotate foods.

* Vacuum all the shelf edges and corners to remove pupating moths.

- APNZ

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