Saturday 22 September 2012

Unwelcome Guests

A lot of the time, troubles are of your own making.
But sometimes, trouble comes regardless of how careful you've been.

We have had problems getting the feed we need from our usual source.
Merrylynd runs a clean show and the only complaint we've had is not being able to get the feed we need, when we need it.
They try to help us out by getting us by with what's on hand, but this time,
we bought from another mill to get us through until our order from Merrylynd could be filled.
You might think that unpredictable supply is a big enough issue to switch to another provider.
But organic feed is hard to come by and the local option is far superior to the rest.

So for now, we bought organic feed from a feed store.
The feed was brought in from elsewhere; I don't know from where.
I discovered today, that the bags are likely old,
and contain Red flour beetles and larvae.

We run a pretty clean show ourselves, so it's horrible when we have unknowingly brought a pest to our farm.
Being fairly isolated, we don't suffer the pest problems that more densely populated areas do.
And this isn't like a Raccoon hitching a ride.
This is thousands of little insects, eggs, and larvae just waiting to explode.
Not only have bought inferior quality feed,
we have introduced a new species of pest to this land.
It is tragic.

The first step was to identify the pest.
At very least, these are grain pests and won't directly affect the animals.
They will, however, perpetuate themselves in spartan conditions such as coop litter,
so we needed to make sure that they stay clear of the animals' quarters.
We normally keep our feed in the house, so the most immediate threat is to our own food storage.
We had bought six bags of feed.
It looks like the larvae of one bag hatched; there are hundreds of beetles in that bag.
The remaining five bags contain larvae that haven't hatched, and presumably eggs too.
Some research shows that they only lay eggs at 20 deg.Celsius, and only fly when it's over 25.
I put the bags outside to get them away from the house and into the cool air.
Now that I think about it, the bag with the hatched beetles was the one near the patio door, which probably heated up during the day.
The hope is that the cool temperature halts their development while I try to contain the damage.
The next step was to spread diatomaceous earth everywhere.
In the bags, on the bags, around where the bags were, all over the place.
We can't have them gaining a foothold in our home.
As long as there is no food at all, they should die out.
The trouble is that we will be getting our feed order soon, so that feed will need to be keep in a separate location, until I have decided that the threat is gone.

I suppose we need to be prepared for these setbacks.
And our defense approach must be focused on prevention, since we would never use insecticides.
Still, it's frustrating when you pay good money for something that is supposed to be fresh,
but instead is old a full of bugs.
One more reason for us to be producing more of our own feed.


  1. Oh man. That stinks. What a frustration.
    I hope that your efforts to mitigate this problem are successful, and that you are feeling better!
    Let me know if there is anything I can do to help :)

    1. Hi Alex,
      A day later, we feel like we brought everything under control.
      The worst bag went to a far corner where the chickens could peck it over, but the beetles were to cold to do much.
      The rest of the bags are outside with cold larvae. The pigs will get most of it, and it will be soaked in hot water first.
      The basement has a layer of diatomaceous earth everywhere, so anything crawling should get cut to ribbons.
      It's helpful that we're in a period of cold weather, otherwise, it may have been a worse outcome.
      Hopefully we get our feed from Merrylynd this coming week.