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Solution - Woman with Flour Bugs in Her Car

There’s a much more fun answer here other than just driving the car into the ocean. Look on-line for a local refrigerated warehouse. You actually want a FREEZER warehouse Many of these are huge – trucks drive right in. Find out what they would charge to let you park your car in the drive-in freezer overnight. It will kill all the bugs permanently. Of course you may not be able to start the car the next day (like being stuck in a big snowstorm) but if you have a good battery or a friend with jumper cables you’ll be all set!

Pheromone traps should do the trick for those moths that survive the freezing. Male moths are lured to the trap, which stops the fertile egg-laying cycle.

The freezer idea is a good one. The research shows it is the delta-T (change in temperature) rather than the coldest temperature reached that kill moths and larvae.

Those ideas above are good ideas, but I have found that the IGRs (Insect Growth Regulators) provide a long term solution.

Once you have killed the pantry moths, put dried bay leaves in mesh bags in your car. They will not only smell nice, but will deter further infestations. I use this technique in my pantry and always keep a little bag in my flour container. Every so often, rub the bag in your hands to release the essential oils. This does not kill the bugs, but will keep them from coming back. I’m in the St. Louis Herb Society, and this really does work! In addition, mice are deterred by mint. Either put sprigs of fresh mint around under cabinets, etc., or use a spray made by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil, then adding three handfuls of fresh mint leaves. Turn off the heat, cover, and let cool. Use a spray bottle to spray around places mice might enter.

I was also going to point out the difference between a kitchen and a car is you can move the car to a cold place which should kill the moths and larva anywhere in the car.

The freezer idea is interesting but a possibly more enjoyable one would be a weekend at a mountain bed and breakfast or ski resort. Some place where the temp would drop below freezing overnight. It may take some work to find a cold enough spot this late in the year or you might have to wait until fall but it should be cheaper/easier then buying a replacement car.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure the anti-freeze in the radiator is the right mix, especially if you can find a refrigerated warehouse that will overnight your car as a freezer warehouse should keep their tempratures at or below 0 Fahrenheit.

The “bugs” or “flies” ( insects ) were probably Tenied Moths - very small grainary moths that inhabit grain products.The most moth invaded products are dog food and bird food ( which NEVER should be stored indoors in unsealesd containers. Control: microwave all grain food products for 30 seconds to kill larva and enjoy the extra protein ! Controli n house: go to a garden store and get a bag of Diatomaceous Earth. Sprinkle it lavisly in the back of all kitchen storage areas, around baseboards of all carpeted areas. DE is inert and can not harm humans or pets. FREEZING will NOT kill eggs - sorry !
John D. laskowski. the Mothman, Halifax, PA

I’m surprised that no one including the hosts have not suggested ozone treatment. Ozone treatments are used to kill any odors in a car by killing any sort of organic/living compound/creatures. No living thing can survive in a car that is being treated in with ozone for multiple hours. I can’t imagine a few ozone treatments wouldn’t do the trick.

Having had this problem in my home a couple of years ago, I can attest to the fact that these little Indian Meal Moths are difficult to get rid of, but they are by no means impossible to eliminate. Thus, the Magliozzi brothers’ claim that even tearing down a wall in their house did not eliminate the problem tells me that they took an unnecessarily extreme, albeit ineffective solution.

What “Biopestman” referred to in an earlier post is what I am referring to:
“Pheromone traps should do the trick for those moths that survive the freezing. Male moths are lured to the trap, which stops the fertile egg-laying cycle.”

I obtained mine from Gardens Alive, an Indiana company that specializes in non-toxic solutions to bug problems in the yard and in the home. While it took…perhaps…3-4 weeks until the moths were gone, this pheromone trap did do the trick.

Incidentally, after the fact, I found the exact same pheromone trap in Lowe’s, in the same aisle as the insect sprays. Not only was it a bit cheaper than at Gardens Alive, but buying it locally has the advantage of much faster access.

The OP does not have to freeze, burn, or sell her car.
All she needs to do it to buy a Pheromone Trap designed for Indian Meal Moths.

Heat will also kill the bugs. 120F for a few hours should do the trick. Being close to the desert, I would suggest you wait a couple months then plan a weekend drive. In the meantime, try to find where they are living. I suggest removing the seats and inspecting where any food could have fallen. Pheromone traps are a great way detect another lifecycle and determine if you have cured the problem. If you dont want to wait, drive it to a pest control company. They will not only be able to sell you the pheromone traps but they also can offer several options.

I was going to suggest the heat treatment myself. Since the caller is in southern California, she could head for Vegas followed by a friend in another car, park the infested one at Death Valley on the way, have a fun weekend, then pick it up on the way back.

Not sure if these are the same bugs, but we had some show up in our flour in our old apartment. We tried all sorts of bug killers and pest control. We finally put a box of matchbooks in the pantry with the flour and never saw them again.

We discovered that those particular bugs do not like sulfur so we purchased matchbooks to test out the theory. We still aren’t certain if that is what solved the issue, but they never came back after putting those matchbooks in there (in fact they started dying off, we found little carcasses all over the pantry).

Now we keep a matchbook in our flour container in tinfoil boat to keep those bugs away and haven’t seen any since. This may be difficult to accomplish as they are appearing in her car, but hopefully the information is helpful.

I don’t have any personal experience with this, but can’t a car be tented and fumigated, like a house is when invested with termites or something?

The caller said she thought the infestation had come from cereal she had purchased. I had a similar problem with tiny moth-like creatures in the kitchen, so I called a friend whose husband is an entomologist(sp?). She recommended putting unopened cereal box in the refrigerator overnight. That solved the problem!

Here’s my two-cents:

The bugs need food and water to survive. I think you can probably get rid of them simply by keeping the car immaculately clean and free of food and beverages for a few months. Water is harder to prevent access to as rain water may puddle in the drains. But you could get out a shop-vac and clean the drains the best you could, then try to park under cover on rainy day. I think just doing this would eventually get rid of them.

If it didn’t, what I do is buy a big roll of plastic sheeting from Home Depot or the like. I’m talking a BIG ROLL, like would be used to cover your house’s roof if it leaked and you needed temporary protection. I’ve seen it there. They sell a big enough roll for $50 or $100 or so. I’d lay it out on the driveway, drive the car over it, then pull the sheeting up, completely covering the car. Then I’d toss in a bunch of dry ice in a big bucket. The dry ice will evaporate, creating CO2, which will push all the air out. When you see the CO2 vapors (well, the effect of cold CO2 is to create water vapor, which you can see) coming out the top of the sheeting, about the car’s roof, then tie it off. And leave it for a week. That should kill the bugs. (I can’t claim to have ever done this, so I don’t know what effect if any it would have on the car though.)

This is same thing done routinely to kill bugs inlarge barrels of wheat being stored for long periods.

About the bugs in the car; perhaps there are two possibilities without poisons. They need to find out about how log it takes eggs to hatch. Take the infested car to a cold storage to freeze the little buggers for enough time to kill the live ones and for all eggs to hatch or die frozen.

If the cold storage is not cold enough then consider heat. Most biological functions double for every increase in 25F of temperature. Therefore temperatures over 110F, maybe up to 120F for a few hours should do the trick in killing them. Most materials in a car should not be ruined at 120F for a few hours. Don’t forget to take out the old sandwiches and fruit.

Good luck, I always enjoy the show.

Why guess when you have the free services of the entomologists at the state Department of Agriculture office? They’ll identify the bug by its scientific name and tell you exactly what they like to nest in and how to get rid of them.

I’ve use the DoA for a bug problem. They’re great. And they’re free.