You do not want to see this when you open up a bag of flour. Little black dots, crawling everywhere. But they’re there, so what do you do?
No matter what precautions you take and no matter how carefully you store your flour, chances are good that it will happen some day. This bag had been stored inside a Ziploc with a few bay leaves in it. But somehow the Ziploc didn’t get completely sealed the last time I used it and the bugs discovered a new home.
Step 1 is to get the buggy stuff off the boat. Not just into a trash bag, but actually off the boat. Pitch it. While old-time sailors would eat wormy flour, calling it an extra source of protein, leaving it on the boat will just cause the bug problem to spread. Yes, I know that some people will say you can salvage the flour by sifting it to remove the bugs. That doesn’t remove the eggs and you’ll be fighting a losing battle as the next generation arrives. Get rid of it if you want to end the problem.
Step 2 is to go through all the other containers in the same locker and adjacent lockers. Check everything and see if it has bugs too. Be sure to check any baking mix (“Bisquick”), box mixes and other packages. Anything with bugs has to be pitched (I know, it hurts).
If the buggy food was in a good plastic storage container, you can pour out the flour or mix and then immediately wash out the plastic container with a bleach solution. If it was in a Ziploc, throw the whole thing out — don’t try to reuse the bag.
Step 3 is to take every single thing out of the affected lockers and wash the outside of each with a bleach solution before setting it down elsewhere. If you don’t disinfect the outside before putting the containers somewhere else, you can transfer eggs and perpetuate the problem.
Step 4 is to carefully wipe out all the affected lockers with bleach solution. Get every single surface. If you can’t use bleach because of fabric nearby, use either ammonia or vinegar — don’t mix them — and the stronger the solution, the better.
Step 5 is to dry out the lockers and the containers. Add a few more bay leaves to each “non-buggy” container as an added precaution, and toss a few bay leaves into each locker.
Step 6 is finally to put everything away.And — perhaps most importantly — keep a sharp eye out over the next several weeks for any lingering bugs. If you see any, take immediate action so as to avoid an even larger infestation.
While bugs are more likely in flour purchased from barrels and in small villages, they can be found almost anywhere. Don’t ignore it if you see even just one . . . where there’s one, more are certainly nearby!