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Old 06-26-2021, 08:31 AM   #11
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

That is why after my first experience I kept more ceramic and plastic items in the cage! Things that could be washed or wiped, or plastikoted smooth wood. Because I lost so many cage items. I didn't know about freezing then and just binned them. Cleaning the cage bars is a total pain. I think I went through a whole bottle of beaphar making sure I'd covered every bit of the bars. Then after rinsing that off went over them again with white vinegar. So yes the hamster may need to go in another cage for a day or two - at least until the disinfectant and vinegar smells wear off.

It varies - if you've only seen one moth crawling in and out of the cage it has probably laid an awful lot of eggs. Which you can't see. It's only when those eggs hatch out you might find bits of webbing (like fluffy stuff). Chrysalises are quite small and could be mistaken for hamster food.

The first time I had them I just saw "a" moth that appeared to go in and out of Charlie's cage. I ignored it thinking - a moth crawled in the cage so what. But after a while it seemed unusual that it would keep going in and out of cage (nonchalantly walked through the bars). Then saw 2 or 3 on the ceiling and curtains near the cage. Came on here and was advised to check the cage. They had been hatching under the substrate and particularly under a cork log! Anywhere the eggs have been laid really.

Unfortunately for me, by then the two or three that had been fluttering round the room had laid eggs in my food cupboard and when they hatched out there wasn't a single item in food couple saveable. Things like bags of flour, sugar etc. Had to chuck most of it away and clean out every crevice of the cupboad with vinegar.

After that I have kept all dried goods in lock and lock boxes in my food cupboard! No open packets of cornflour, flour etc.

Because they hatch out from the hamster food means when they fly the nest so to speak they seek out more food. Hence pantry moths.

It took months to get rid of them. I'd squash about six every night but more kept appearing. They seem to like dark places too. As well as under the cork log I found dozens of them crawling around under a kitchen cupboard. The moral of that is - have floorboard pelmets on your kitchen cupboards (ours were open underneath). Under the cupboard where I kept the bag of hamster food. And don't have an open plan living/kitchen area!.

I tried pheromone traps - which really didn't work. So I tried a few different types and strangely caught more in the carpet moth traps than the pheromone traps (they stick to the sticky paper). I actually had at least two different varieties.

The odd moth flying around or sitting around isn't that bad - it's the fact they lay eggs everywhere! I think it's 200 a day for each moth. The outbreak was gone eventually after getting the hoover out every day, hoovering up any on the ceiling or curtains, hoovering the carpet every day and using the traps. And you have to empty the hoover bag/change it each time as well and take it straight out of the house.

So I think the key is to nip it in the bud. As soon as you see a moth in a hamster cage, think the worst! Because I had so many they had probably all hatched out at once after the first two or three laid eggs. Once there were dozens laying 200 eggs a day - well it took a long time. Drove me a bit demented actually.

Strange the hamster didn't tell me! You'd think he could have grabbed one in his teeth and come to the cage door to show me and indicated at the cork log! But no - he just ignored them.

Anyway - I know squish any little moth I ever see - just in case! It's normal to have the odd little one in the house in summer but I always think - never again!

So full cage clean if you see a moth in the cage and a good hoover around. Anything that goes back in needs to be new, frozen or washed.

Imogen - the way to prevent it is freeze your hamster food for a week before using it. Moth eggs are very common in all pet foods - and even in flour apparently but I've only ever heard of this happening from pet food in the uk. You can't see them and they do no harm and stay dormant - unless the temperature gets to a certain level - eg hot summer weather or a warm room in winter. My outbreak started in winter when I was leaving a heater on at night in that room.
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Old 06-26-2021, 11:23 AM   #12
Ria P
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

Does freezing not alter the taste or shelf life of hamster food?

I'm still reluctant to freeze hamster food because i won't eat previously frozen bread. It doesn't taste the same.

Also, does hamster food that has been frozen and then thawed not go mouldy or off after a while?

Hamsters eat so little that it takes quite a while to go through a bag even with all the mouths to feed in this household.

I suppose one could take out small amounts every second day or so?

I often vacuum because that's the one and only household chore i actually enjoy but i haven't emptied the bag recently. So in theory, this bag could be crawling with moths by now.

I'm going to check....
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Old 06-26-2021, 11:53 AM   #13
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

It’s more likely eggs and they may not have hatched so that’s why you empty the bag before the do.

Strangely hamster food is absolutely fine after freezing. You would think it would get damp defrosting etc but it doesn’t it stays dry as a bone. I think it’s because it’s dried food and the bag is probably airtight.

I take a whole bag out of the freezer, leave it an hour or two and then tip it into a lock and lock box where it stays fresh and dry. Been doing it for years.

Or you can leave the bag in the freezer and just get out what you want each day and let it defrost. I think an open bag is more likely to get moisture in though.
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Old 06-26-2021, 12:30 PM   #14
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

Yes but i hadn't emptied the hoover bag and vacuumed up substrate, food etc so some would have hatched by now but found nothing crawling around or in the discarded substrate in the green bin. Looks like i caught it in time alright.

I freeze dried grass/hay but now wonder if i'd need to freeze millet sprays and hamster herbs as well or is it mainly the food the moths eggs come in?

Another problem was the lack of house spiders for natural pest control last autumn. I think i saw one and i called it Eric.
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Old 06-26-2021, 03:44 PM   #15
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

Yes spiders help . I didn’t realise there had been a shortage of spiders but now you mention it yes hardly seen any for ages. There must be a big one in our bedroom though as I noticed an enormous cobweb about two feet long!

Yes I freeze everything - treats, hanster mix, hay, grass hits or hammocks, hemp mat, millet spray, bendy bridges, anything with bark on. Some people have had barkwood items with woodworm! Hay especially needs freezing as it can contain mites. It does no harm - but takes time as not enough space in the freezer if you have a few things at once.

I must gave missed something last year to get another outbreak. It depends on the storage warehouse conditions of the place you buy stuff from as well. People had a lot of moth problems from one particular retailer a few years ago. I tend to stick to Amazon and Zooplus for food and treats for that reason. I’ve also frozen Rodipet food to be on the safe side but they are supposed to be good generally. Anything I buy to go in a hamster cage either get frozen or wiped down with a cloth or washed first - just in case it’s been stored in a mothy warehouse.
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Old 07-14-2021, 06:25 AM   #16
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

I STILL come across the odd pantry moth!

Usually on the wall or ceiling of the upstairs landing.
I've adopted this weird habit of walking around the house with my face pointing upwards and don't seem to be able to shake this habit.
I annoy the hamsters regularly by rummaging around sections of their substrate but haven't found anything crawling around.

I'm not just worried about mouths getting into the hamsters habitats but now i'm worried about my own sanity. At least i don't worry about the kitchen.
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Old 07-14-2021, 06:56 PM   #17
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

I know that feeling. I found myself looking at walls and seeing things that looked like moths but were just marks on the wallpaper etc Just keep squishing them.
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Old 07-14-2021, 08:18 PM   #18
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

Oh, totally aware we're not talking about your usual moth - but insects creep me out massively. Some of them don't like non-flying preying mantis or ladybugs but anything else is a big no from me!

I've found an earwig once inside of Remys cage - like the first 3 weeks in. Was totally shocked! I was so creeped out.

I've heard of the "pantry" moth, but I've never actually had an incident with one in my house nor think I've ever seen one. Besides your usual moth I've only seen a moth species that were bigger than my palm - I saw them outside down the side 'ally' of my house that leads into my garden in a group of like 3 or 4 and I kid you not I was completely mortified but amazed to see such large moths. That was just once but never saw them again phaha.

But now I can totally see why people recommend to put your hamster food into a mason jar or something - which I've done not because of this problem but just because it looked nicer and more organized. Guess there was an extra pro to that!
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Old 10-11-2021, 06:04 PM   #19
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

Aaarrrgh!!!!
I saw a pantry moth on Rodney's house!
They never completely disappeared and i saw one or two every few weeks. Not enough to worry about as long as they stayed away from the hamsters.

I cleaned the spare Hamster Heaven from the greenhouse and set it up with a very basic set up then moved Rodney in.
The poor hamster was so upset when he realized that he can't go home but he has calmed down now. I'm sure that he's not happy though. Poor little thing.
I moved him in a different room for now because i want to check and clean the whole area around his cage

I chucked a lot out and reordered, soaked the cage and wooden items overnight and threw the substrate out. I couldn't see any moths in the bedding and hadn't seen any in Betsy's either. Now of course i wonder again if i overreacted and upset Rodney for nothing.

Rodney's cage needed a clean anyway and some of his things were inherited from Henry so started to look a bit shabby and he gets it all replaced. I also ordered him a Silent Runner because he seems to like an enclosed wheel.

I have no idea where these moths come from. The one i saw tonight was an old one and on its way out even before i got it.
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Old 10-12-2021, 01:11 PM   #20
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Default Re: Flummoxed by the pantry moth

I moved Rodney back in his cage but am waiting for new degu shelves to arrive so i can finish his set up.

Couldn't see any moths around his cage but have promised myself to do more housework in future.

Rodney complained to me this morning. He came to his door with the ears on halfmast and chirped. He only ever chirps when very annoyed. I think he felt quite isolated with only the hamsters for company.
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