Warning! Your Spice Jars Might Be Riddled With All Kinds Of Invisible Bugs, But Are They Harmful?
Food spices do for recipes what colors do for the world. They make everything come alive! But, experts say they could be attracting tiny animals that end up making their way into our meals.
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How and why homes have bugs
Most homes are a haven for bugs. A study of 50 American homes showed that the average indoor space has 32–211 morphospecies, and 24–128 distinct arthropod families. Homeowners only become aware of these unwanted house guests when they are forced to come face to face with some strange looking multiple-legged creatures.
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The ready impulse might be to compulsively rid our homes of bugs. But, Business Insider reports a leading entomologist Dr. Matthew Bertone as saying this might be unnecessary and needlessly expose us to harmful chemicals.
Bugs are taking over your spices!
But, what happens if these bugs are a little too close for comfort? If you've ever opened your pantry to find your flour overrun by beetles, you know just how upsetting bugs can be. However, some bugs can totally escape our notice and hide in specific spices they find habitable.
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Most spices are prone to bug attacks, but paprika and its peppery sibling cayenne are specifically susceptible. Why? The answer is in the pepper.
Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles thrive among spices that contain pepper and Entomologist, Jody M. Green explains this phenomenon to HuffPost:
It doesn’t matter whether your paprika is sweet or smoky: It’s all friendly to pests. Particularly fond of products derived from dried sweet peppers/chiles/red pepper products like red pepper flakes, paprika, chili powder and cayenne.
The pepper family appears to contain the nutritional requirements necessary for multiple generations of stored product beetles to successfully sustain life.
Get rid of them. It's really easy
How then do they manage to go undetected for so long and make it into our meals?
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Greens says most of them go through a complete metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa, and adult stage. Any of those could be making its way into our meals.
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Yuck! How then can we get rid of them?
- Dump your spice in a heavy plastic wrap and put it in your fridge for days.
- Invest in a good screw-top metal container for your spices
- Get sticky and pheromone traps for your new spice jars.
That said, it's easiest and way cheaper to dedicate time to clean the area where your spices are kept. Good luck with that!
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