For the U.S. average temperatures in June have been fairly temperate and Minnesota is no exception. Our weather has been a welcome gift. Plentiful rain and sunshine have turned flora, fauna and trees into lush havens for birds and critters. Enjoy this while it lasts. Soon the dog days of summer will arrive and your bird feed supply will need extra care to guard against bugs, heat and humidity. Here are a few storage tips:
Purchase less seed more frequently. Buying smaller quantities of seed means you have less to store during humid weather. PRDSeed ships seed for free so you can order more often. Be sure to empty your container before replenishing your birdseed supply.
Use airtight containers. To prevent mold and mildew, use sturdy plastic bins with proper lids. You can also place seed in zip lock bags and use galvanized metal containers. Proper containers are crucial since certain types of mold can be deadly to birds.
Beware of bug contamination and webbing. Examine your seed before storing. Does it have a foul smell? Is it clumping? This could be an indication of microscopic parasites such as pupae and larvae that will cause webbing and contaminate seed. Look for moths, beetles, ants, larva or bits of dead insects. Common infestation problems include:
Weevils in birdseed (Photo courtesy of Seabrooke Leckie blog)
Indian meal moths: Indian meal moth infestation in birdseed is apparent by the fine silk webbing that the moths spin in the feed. Moths lay eggs that turn into tiny worms (larva) with black heads. Use moth traps to prevent infestation but if it has already occurred, pesticides may be necessary because these pests spread quickly.
Weevils: More than 40,000 species of weevils exist but granary, rice and maize weevils are more commonly found in birdseed. They are hard to detect because they penetrate inside the grain and feed off of it in larva stage.
Beetles: Beetles are scavengers and readily feed on seed, grain and dry good products, such as flour. They are easier to detect but there are more than 500 species of beetles. To protect your birdseed, be on the lookout for Sawtoothed Grain beetles, Cigarette beetles, Spider and Flour beetles.
Birds usually reject contaminated seed, although they may not mind insect bits. Once insect eggs hatch infestation can occur swiftly. If you find infected seed it is better to be safe than sorry. Safely dispose of it by double or triple bagging the seed before throwing it into a refuse bin. Thoroughly clean your bird food container with a paper towel dipped in a diluted bleach and water solution. Wipe excess moisture from the container and allow it to thoroughly air dry before replenishing your seed. If your pest problem is in full swing, you may need to purchase a fogger or other insecticide products.
Store seed in cool, dry location. When storing seed avoid areas that are exposed to sun or heat. It is optimal to store birdseed indoors or even freeze it for maximum freshness. Outdoor storage areas, such as a garage or shed, should have shelving so that the airtight containers are above the floor. To prevent infestation, you can try using pouches of dry herbs and place them in your seed. According to Judy Barrett’s HomeGrown blog, “mint, rosemary, rue, tansy, thyme, wormwood, southernwood, lavender, pennyroyal and lemon geranium are all excellent at repelling moths.” For added protection, use a fan to keep bugs away from your seed supply and use moth traps. Also remember to clean bird feeders regularly and check for evidence of moths around your feeder area.
~Article: How to get rid of weevils the natural way
~eHow: Bugs that live in bird seed
~The Gemini Geek: How to get rid of weevils?