flour overdose

In ALL, NEW YORK by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

I am beyond disgusted.  My skin is crawling, and every 9 seconds or so, I’m convinced there’s a bug crawling in my hair, eyelashes, on my calve, no that one.  Back to the ankle.  The corner of my eye.

I moved into this apartment on April 1, the biggest joke of a day.  It was snowing, yet I decided to walk around the neighborhood collecting restaurant delivery menus.  Then I hit Columbus Avenue Bakery and realized I too should bake something in my new home.  I loaded up on pantry staples, but when I returned home, I was too tired to cook.  I ate Cinnamon Toast Crunch from the box in handfuls instead.

They’re in my lampshade, on my floor, crawling on the headboard.  I am horrified.

Last night, I was on the phone with my sister Lea, who now lives in Montana.  We talked for an hour and 45 minutes because when you talk to Lea, it always lasts that long; she can talk the shit out of a livestock auctioneer.  We talk about her job at Este Lauder and how happy she is there.
“Are you really?”  I asked.
“Why YeeeeEEEsss,” she replied, doing her best Fog Horn McWhatever.
“What, Steph, what?”
“A goddamn mother fly again!  Jesus, Lea, I have these goddamn fruit flies everywhere.  I don’t know what to do!”  Linus is barking and wants to see what I’ve just slapped into slaughter against my bedroom wall.
“Damn, Steph, we’re living parallel lives.  We both stink and have flies following us around.”  She snorts.

I’d looked everywhere and couldn’t find their source.  I presumed it was a seasonal thing. I searched my cabinets, under sinks, and I couldn’t find anything.  Until the other night, when I was alone in my apartment watching The Aviator.  I searched my pantry again, and I noticed what looked like brown dust, or apple pie spices, on my white shelves.  I took out my kitchen stool to get a better look at the higher shelves.  They were everywhere.  Small needley bugs, tunneling through a hill of wheat flour.  Who the hell buys wheat flour anyway?  Apparently, I purchased it two years ago and never used it.  Flour hosts bug eggs, and if you don’t keep it in your refrigerator, those eggs hatch and leave you with flour that you’ll swear didn’t look like it had vanilla bean in it upon purchase.  Tiny black specks will eventually grow wings.  WINGS!  And then they hang out near your goddamn desk, sipping your wine, floating in your dog’s water bowl!

I threw out everything in my pantry, removed all the shelves, and wiped everything down with Clorox.  I’m still finding them though.  They hide out behind light bulbs.  I’m onto them.  They like the light and water.  I awake to find a few in my toilet bowl.  I can’t live like this.  And all this from WHEAT FLOUR, from trying to be healthy! Actually, it would have happened with regular flour or even Bisquick (you should throw any of yours out, or at least check the situation out).  I just killed a bug that crawled on my inner thigh.  And I’m dressed!   Oh God.  The inside of my nose itches.

They’re on my curtains.  I am horrified.  HORRIFIED.  I think I might throw up.  I’m serious.  You think Aerosol and Windex are toxic?


  1. I went immediately and found my flour, checked it for vanilla spots, and put it in the freezer.

    Because I also live on the UWS. And because my imagination says your flies might be contagious.

  2. call an exterminator or your super, at the very least. it truly sounds as if this problem is well out of the do-it-yourself category. they're wily, these bugs. i had ants once and it was a nightmare. at the worst point, i even began to find the smell of Raid comforting. but one visit from a professional and the ants were toast.

  3. Put those shallow yogurt lids, filled with vinegar, on window sills, counters, etc. They're attracted to it, fall in, die drowning. Seriously, it doesn't solve, but it helps. Vinegar.

  4. Sounds like you've got a touch of the ol' Howard Hughes syndrome. I went a bit loopy after watching The Aviator.

    ps: Bisquick is THE WORST for harbouring bugs. It will never darken my doorstep again.

  5. Stephanie – This sounds like a problem that I just tackled – – like 2 weeks ago. I started to see fruit flies, but also I noticed little tiny "weevil" like bugs (they looked like seeds) all over my kitchen and then -OH MY GOD – in my cupboard, second shelf, tons of them in a mound of corn starch that I bought, oh two years ago. I threw away everything – EVERYTHING! Washed the shelfs with windex, bleach, all sorts of toxic liquids and they would still come back. Finally, I looked on the web – they are called Pantry Pests. I had to throw away all food stuffs that were potentially exposed – done. Wash cupboards with warm soapy water – done. Also, in my neighborhood hardware store – you know, the small neighborhood store that is staffed by old men who know everything and have at least one of everything made since the 1950's, I bought Pantry Pests traps. They exist. I put two in my cupboards. Finally they're gone, although I am still so skeeved out by the whole thing that I still haven't refilled by cupboards with any food.

  6. Terrible, absolutely terrible.
    My ex american boyfriend had a huge problem with huge cockroaches, I seriously think it's one of the reasons why I left him. I was terrified, we don't have such big bugs in Italy.
    I think that disinfestation is the only solution.
    Anyway, good luck!

  7. You need to make a fruit fly trap.

    My mom taught me how to make these when I was little and they are an ingenious way to get rid of all of the fruit flied in your house within 48 hours.

    Get a small jar or glass that you don't mind throwing away.
    Make a cone out of a piece of paper so that it is wide enough at the top to sit flush with the inside rim of the jar. It also needs to be shallow enough that, when placed inside the jar, it leaves an inch or so of space between the point of the cone and the bottom of the jar.
    Now make a VERY small hole about the size of the head of a pin in the bottom of the cone with a pair of scissors. The idea is that the hole is big enough so that flies can squeeze in but can't get out.
    Cut a wedge from a peach, banana, or other sweet fruit and place it inside the jar. You could also use some kinf od syrup.
    Now place the cone inside the jar and tape carefully all the way around the rim so that there are absolutely no holes. If you need to, you can trim down the cone so that the edge is flush with the jar edge.

    Put the jar in a place where the flies normally congegrate. I'd leave the jar out for 3-4 days or until all the flies are inside. Then, just toss the jar.

    Good luck!

  8. This web site has an illustration of the fruit fly trap I desribed.


    By the way–I don't think your weavil problem in your flour is related to your fruit fly problem.

  9. I recently moved into a new apartment and noticed fruit flies and could not figure out where they were coming from. I then saw them emerging from an area by the fridge so I went up and looked at the top of the fridge. I found a bag that had had some sort of food in it, and A MILLION little fruit flies, were crawling all over the bag. I almost puked right there in my kitchen.
    Now I feel like I feel them everywhere. I used to think fruit flies were cool, like in 2nd grade during a science experiment on them, but Oh my God, those things are so freaking nasty.

  10. I had a similar infestation, only it was a termite swarm, through the window of my bedroom, directly over my bed! Wings and ant-like creatures EVERYWHERE!!! I thought they were flower petals at first, until I started seeing the bodies. It was horrible. Like something out of nightmare! I say go away for a weekend and have a professional finish the job!

  11. I hear ya. I have a current as-yet un-named infestation in my Buenos Aires apartment. First thought it was bed bugs (I know, but hey, apparently it has nothing to do with my hygiene habits). The following theory was flees. FLEES! I don't have an animal, but apparently that's the problem. I AM the animal! If I had a cat or dog, they'd land on my pet, and I"d be saved. Anyway, after feverish bouts of late night hoovering (vaccuuming for the north americans), weeks of insomnia, and embarrassing itches, they seem to have piped down, whatever they were. And lots of Raid, which exists down here too, bless its cotton socks. But I'm still paranoid. And I still itch betimes. And I still think it means I'm unclean, which is ludicrous. So it's good to know other people in first world countries with clean(er) apartments have bug problems too. phew.

  12. Oh man, I've had the same thing for a couple weeks now. I thought because we've had the windows open more lately, or that they were in my plants. I do have wheat flour in my pantry so that's going the minute I get home. I like Joy's idea though so may try it. Thanks!

  13. Truth be told, Stephanie's initial belief was that the flies were coming from the air conditioner. After i cleaned the soot and filter and reassured her the problem was now "under control", we breathed a bit easier. Little did I now that her trauma was just beginning.

  14. i had them here in l.a. they will get into your spices too. even the ones with a threaded top. pernicious little buggers. i did much research on this. they also come from cheap groceries. as in your market doesn't buy the freshest goods but rather some that have been sitting in a warehouse.

    i found these little, triangular shaped traps and they worked. i think i found them at home depot. pantry moth traps.

    all things gross, make my nose itch.

  15. We have those too. Start as little wormies and then fly everywhere….. YUCK. I once ate a handful of raisons before looking down to see those same wormies throughout the box. Nasty little Weevils.

  16. It sounds like you have "flour weevils." If so, the only way to really get rid of them is to have your apartment "fogged" by an exterminator. You have to throw away any open containers of food in your pantry (except that you can freeze expensive stuff like spices), get all dishes, etc., out of the kitchen and cover them up so they don't get sprayed. The bugs come into your house in food items such as flour, particularly things that are sold in bulk.

  17. This happened to me one time — in a house I moved out of when I divorced. Do you have any clue how rampant those things get when a forgotten bag of flour is left in a vacant house?

    I went back to check on the house and…ew.

  18. Ick. I've never had this problem, but I will never buy flour again. Ugh. Stephanie, I hope you get that shit under control – I hate bugs and feel incredibly sorry for you!

  19. All that you need to do, is put Bay Leaves on your shelves.

    Just simple Bay Leaves, they hate them and will leave. Trust me I've tried it and it works.

    If you have the same results, you owe me a glass of non-oak-y white wine.

    Preferrably a white burgundy.

  20. If you have house plants, little flies like to crawl around in the dirt there too. Spray them with a mix of dishsoap and water or get some insecticidal soap. Otherwise you'll have tiny roommates forever! Ack!

  21. It really is crazy how alike we are! I went insane trying to find the source of those things. I swore someone put a curse on me to have those bastards following me around! I even looked it up online to try to find out where they were coming from. It's uncanny!

  22. I went to a restaurant with my girlfriend. They had an awful problem with fruit flies. we were going to go see a concert by Alanis Morrisett the next evening. We were talking about that for a while and how excited we were.

    Then we see a fly in her chardonnay. (ha) So we laughed and thought it was amusing that it was right out of Alanis' lyrics.

    "Waitress!" We called out, to get another glass of wine.

    Fine. The second glass of Chardonnay, ANOTHER fruit fly. This was ridiculous. I had red wine (so they were hiding) I was wondering, "Hmmm, how come she's getting all the flies."

    That night, I had a lot of protein from drinking my cabernet. Can't kill ya, right?

  23. Ewwww. Now I am all itchy and contemplating throwing away all the food in my house. Do you think food is safe if it's in Tupperware? Cause THAT I can do!

  24. Honestly, there is nothing grosser than bugs. Except…drum roll please…mice. Oh my god. Last year was the first mouse year at my house…they found my daughter's halloween candy under her desk, and lo and behold…had lots of babies. Nothing freaking grosser in the world. Oh, except at my every other weekend lover's house – he had *rats* who visited his backyard pond. He had no problem getting rid of them – but I can't tell you how many times I hid my head under three pillows, turned up the sound machine to typhoon, and prayed not to hear the fatal *snap* of a loaded mouse trap. God – I'm getting all crawly here.

  25. The lady I work with has the same problem. She called an exterminator and they said it might be months before she gets rid of them. She won't bring us anything home cooked until they are gone! Good thing you finally found them! :)

  26. Happened to me as well. Three years ago. Came from a bag of ramen noodles that was left from a previous owner of the home. It was on a shelf so high I couldn't reach it.

    Bleach, soap and bay leaves. Gane within a week 100%. Good luck to you.

  27. Oh My Gosh! I've had fruit flies for two summers in a row. I cannot get rid of them. I have to gulp my wine or they end up floating in it. Tonight's job…..cleaning my kitchen cupboards.

  28. That gave me the willies. If I did not have so much work to do I would go home THIS INSTANT and throw out everything. By the way, Stephanie, I attended the panel at the JCC with the *ahem* interesting lady asking you questions who then scurried out after getting her answer. I was too shy to say hello – but I enjoy your blog. Sadly, I will not have time to take a writing class. Perhaps I can work some "creative writing" into the brief I am filing tomorrow…

  29. Wow, This is so crazy.. I figured I was the only one that hated flies. After reading this, I guess I am not alone!

    Thanks so much for posting

  30. well that's for making me totally feel sick steph…actually, it just sounds like a great excuse to always eat out!!

  31. Ughh! I got rid of my flour bug/mealy bug problems a few years ago. When I bring any flour home it goes right into an airtight plastic container.

    I watch houses in the Hamptons and at one of my customers today I found little brown things on the countertop. I had to put on my glasses and pull out my flashlight…mouse poop perhaps? No, I looked in the cabinet overhead and screamed. Bugs crawling in flour. In zip lock bags. The bags were practically moving. I'm charging the crap out of these folks this month.

    I did take the three worst bags out of the house and threw in the garbage. Maybe the rest of the bugs on the shelf will die. I don't know – I had to leave the house at that point.

  32. I moved into a house in July that has a basement infested with fleas! My new roommate conveniently forgot to mention that when I deposited all my stuff down there for two weeks while I was on vacation! My ankles are still healing from the bites. What's even better is after 3 exterminations the bastards are still around.

    Just reading this post made me itch… it also makes me never want to go home again.

  33. Oh, I remember my childhood years when I went crazy with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I'm really missing that cereal now. I think I'll pick it up when I go to the grocery store this weekend. Yeppers.

  34. i mean, what the fcuk does one need to do to get a f*&#ing post on your f*&#ing site??? u just lost a fan, but it's cool… u can still do this for your 10 or 15 friends to read…happy birthday…good to see your 15 minutes hasn't gone to your head…(btw, you and your friends…sooooo "C" crowd.

  35. You might have Indian Meal Moths. We had them at my apartment in Vermont. They love to hatch in dry dog food and as you've discovered anything with flour. Wipe all cabinets down with vinegar and replace every last flour product you own. Those sucker are hatching as I type.

  36. I have carpet bugs.

    Bugs in general, or really any creature with more than 4 legs, should be exterminated for good. Eco system be damned.

    And yeah, they're toxic only if you drink/swallow them.

  37. Another option is a homemade fruit fly trap. Put some grenadine syrup (a strong syrup made from pomegranates) in a small shallow bowl. Pesky little fruit flies glide in, but they do not glide out.

    Idea I stole from the Kansas City Star after I had the same problem. It seems to work.

  38. I know it doesn't help you now, but I always put bags of flour, sugar, etc,. — all powdered stuff — in zip-lock bags the minute I get them home from the store. Except corn starch or baking soda. Those I don't have in bags, and I hope I don't have to. I'm getting itchy just thinking about what could be going on in there.

  39. Liz is right…they are pantry moths and a hardwares store trap will rid you of them. And it is is not just a city thing…my mum had them in her 'burbs house 2 years ago. Thankfully I do not have them in my apt…yet!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Hi Stephanie,
    Yes,you can get rid of bugs.I live on a boat in
    NE Florida where the bugs are big enough to pick
    you up and carry you!First rule,no food in a cardboard box ever comes on board.I store all my dry goods in plastic containers with screw top lids.Even wheat flower.Which I have and it's bug
    free.Always have some bayleaves handy.Bugs don't
    like them.Also good to have around is a small
    bottle of boric acid,for roaches and ants.
    Be careful where you sprinkle it,it's poison!
    But kills all creepies.They walk through it and
    take it to their nest.
    Been living bug-free for 6 years surrounded by
    a nearby flood plane,aka the swamp.
    Good Luck.

  41. Maybe its just a projection–you feel some creeping guilt over your lack of talent?

  42. Let's get our priorities straight here…you went to Columbus Avenue Bakery and didn't pick up their low fat tuna? You ignored their chicken salad? You decided you'd rather make baked goods at home? All my illusions about you are shattered.

  43. certainly not as interesting as how to rid oneself of the scourage of moths but the stuttering guy's name on Loony Toons is Foghorn Leghorn

  44. I don't want to take the time to read all the comments but the best way to get rid of them is one of 2 ways: a) put soapy water in a white bowl and put a light on it over night. or b) put vinegar in a bowl where they are and just let it sit over night. Both should work.

    I'm southern; bugs have to be dealt with 9 mths out of the year

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