Pet Care Pointers

Freeze parrot food to prevent weevils

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Laura is having a bug problem in her pantry. Every time she opens the pantry door, three or four moths fly out.

I am sure many of you are wondering what relevance this has to the human/animal bond. Let me explain.

Felix is Laura's constant companion. Laura says the Amazon parrot even endeavors to answer the phone with a cheerful "Hello" after three rings. His diet is based on, among other things, a formulated pellet specifically for his species; it is this pelleted diet that is the concern here.

Laura began an exhaustive search of her pantry to find the source of the weevil moths. She found a few inside a bag of spaghetti. She disposed of all her pasta products, breakfast cereals and flour.

About two months later, the moths began reappearing. Once again, she began looking for the source. It was not until Laura was cleaning Felix's cage one morning that she discovered the source.

Laura was about to clean out Felix's food dish when she noticed the pellets appeared to be moving. On closer inspection, she found worms crawling between the pellets - and Felix was eating some of them!

Weevil larvae are creatures that, after feeding on grain products, spin a cocoon from which emerges a moth. These moths lay eggs, from which the larvae emerges.

Weevil eggs are found in virtually all grain products, including pelleted parrot food. To keep eggs from developing, bird pellets should be kept in the freezer. A small supply, three days or so, can be kept at room temperature.

Incidentally, Laura, the weevil larvae is an excellent source of nutrition, if Felix likes to munch on a few now and then. I would not, however, recommend their cultivation for this purpose.

(Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto, Calif. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto CA 95352.)

© 2009, The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.).
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