Monday, June 23, 2014

Why do I have moths in my kitchen?

I actually don't have moths in my kitchen, but I used to have a bad infestation before I figured out what was causing it, and my post title is a nod to the fact that when people search the internet for solutions to their issues, they usually pose their inquiries in regular speech (as opposed to more technical phrases such as "possible reasons for moths in kitchens").  I can see this quite clearly from blog stats and search strings.

OK, so now the answer.  If you've already taken all of the steps that I outlined in "How to keep bugs out of your kitchen pantry", including removing food from manufacturer-issued cardboard and thin plastic packaging and placing it in chew-proof containers, and after all that effort you are still having issues with flying insects (moths and/or beetles), try this.
Check the crumb tray in the bottom of your toaster and clean it.  For some reason, moths seem to be particularly drawn to toasters.  It is extremely easy to forget to clean the crumb tray in a timely manner.  I do it all the time, as this evidence suggests.  
Don't just empty the tray.  Shake all the crumbs out of the entire appliance.  Toasters have many nooks and crannies where crumbs can accumulate.  Particularly if you use breads that contain seed products (e.g., flax seed, sunflower seed which are very nutritious), all it takes is a bit of accumulation and insects will be off to the races.  
This is not necessarily an obvious troubleshoot.  Most folks assume that toasters get so hot that insects could not possibly survive in them even if crumbs are left in place.  That may have been the case years ago when toaster construction was much simpler, but now with the elaborate designs on the market, insect refuge space has been made available in many models.
Or so that we can see whether or not bugs are moving in??

Toasters fall into that annoying category of "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em".  There are plenty of frustration-generated memes out there that reflect this love-hate status.  
In my personal experience, the insect problem is particularly pronounced in toasters advertised as remaining cool-to-the-touch on the outside (they usually have a plastic outer casing).  I had one of those when my child was a toddler and more likely to burn herself by grabbing the outside of the toaster when my back was turned.  Well, the same design that kept tiny hands safe also kept the moths safe.  They congregated inside of it against the cool outer wall, basically setting up their own little ecosystem in there.  Toasters cannot be washed, and I couldn't keep moths out of that toaster for the life of me.
Ha ha.  
I had to discard the cool-to-the-touch toaster and get the stainless steel one you see in the photos above, because the metal ones do get hotter on the outside and therefore minimize the insect problem.  But insects can still survive in the crumb tray.
What was the old joke?  We can put a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth, but nobody has figured out how to make a reliable toaster yet?  

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