What s Eating My Dried Flowers, News
What’s Eating My Dried Flowers?
The Indian Meal Moth is the most common pest in dried flowers.
By Donald R. Lewis
Iowa State University Extension
Dried flowers and other plant materials such as grapevine wreaths are a popular way to decorate the home or office. Unfortunately, natural plant products are just that: natural. And as such they can become the habitat or the food for various insect pests.
The frustration of insects devouring dried flowers and the annoyance of moths flying around the house can occur for the customer with a single arrangement, the hobbyist, or large grower or commercial operator. Insects may infest completed decorations and arrangements or the work materials in storage.
The insect pests of dried flowers are not dangerous. Their damage is limited to only those plant items or stored foods that they consume or contaminate. They cannot bite or sting, they do not carry diseases, and they do not attack the home structure. Some of the insects that attack dried flowers also attack stored food in the cupboards, but otherwise, the primary harm done by insect pests of dried flowers is the destruction of flower petals, leaves and other plant parts that are eaten by larvae.
The insects that attack dried flowers are very common, world–wide pests found in a wide variety of commodities and products. Indian meal moth, for example, is a common pest in stored grain and any commodity manufactured from grain, such as flour, cake mix, cornmeal, rice, spaghetti, crackers and cookies. Other susceptible stored foods include dried beans, bird seed, popcorn, nuts, dried fruit, spices, chocolate, powdered milk and dry pet food.
Two common pests
The Indian meal moth is the most common pest in dried flowers. Adult moths, which may be found inside infested products or flying about the house have a wingspan of 1/2 to 5/8 inch. The base of the front wing is pale gray or tan and the outer two–thirds is reddish–brown with a coppery luster. The coloration may not be clear in older specimens.
Damage is done by the caterpillar stage. Caterpillars are off–white with shades of yellow, pink or green and up to 1/2 inch long. Infested flowers may be covered with fine silk webbing spun by the larvae. Caterpillars live for four to six weeks and often leave infested items when mature and crawl for long distances on ceilings and walls before stopping to spin a cocoon.
The cigarette beetle is another common pest in dried flowers. Named for its habit of destroying dried tobacco, cigars and cigarettes, the cigarette beetle is now a minor problem for tobacco processors but remains a common household pest feeding on nearly any dried plant product, including dried flowers, spices, macaroni, beans, dried fruits, herbs, seeds and even paper products, including books.
The cigarette beetle is brown, 1/8 inch long and oval. The head is bent downward giving the insect a strongly humped appearance. Adult beetles may wander away from infested products but the fuzzy, yellowish–white larvae are found only in infested items.
Your choice of practical control alternatives for dried flower insect pests depends on the scale of the problem. For individual, infested arrangements the best solution is usually to discard the item. If infested material is to be salvaged or if infestation is questionable, heat the item in the oven at 130 degrees F for at least 30 minutes, or place in the freezer at 0 degrees F for at least four days. This solution is limited by the amount and size of the materials.
The vicinity of an infested flower arrangement should be thoroughly cleaned. Vacuum clean all cracks and corners to pick up crawling insects and spilled or infested food sources. Discard the vacuum cleaner contents to prevent reinfestation. Washing with detergent, bleach, ammonia or disinfectants will not have any effect on insect pests.
Spraying doesn’t work. Insecticide sprays are not recommended for controlling insects in dried flowers. Sprays control only the insects they contact and have no effect on insects already inside the flowers or hidden deep in crevices. Fogging especially will have little, if any benefit. Flower shops and wholesalers have the options of pheromone traps to monitor for the presence of Indian meal moths and to have infested items fumigated by a licensed pest control operator.
Finally, small quantities of susceptible materials can be stored in sealable glass, metal or heavy plastic containers or in the refrigerator or home freezer.
There is one photo for this week’s column.
IndianMealMoth122906.jpg Please credit Laura Jesse, Iowa State University, when using this photo.
Best Dried Fruit (7 Healthiest Options)
Not many people will think of including dry fruits in their diet, thanks to the high natural sugar concentration and the processing that’s done to certain varieties.
No need to worry. Apart from appealing to your sweet tooth, the best-dried fruits have a number of health benefits. Only that you have to take care of the dried fruits you choose to eat.
The good thing about dried fruits is that they are a good replacement for artificial and refined sugar, in any type of recipe. This is mainly because dried fruits are whole foods and cannot be compared to other types of sweeteners.
For once, dried fruits contain high amounts of fiber , minerals, and vitamins just like fresh fruits. When it comes to regulating blood sugar levels, dried fruits are healthier than most of the sweeteners available on the market.
The best-dried fruits are packed with fiber, natural fructose , potassium, and the B vitamins. Other fruits even have iron and calcium. Although that’s something you might not expect, you will understand it once you finish reading this write-up.
Another reason to eat dried fruits is that you can use them in a wide array of recipes whether it is oatmeal, energy bars or snack balls. To sweeten any type of smoothie, you can add one or two pieces of dried fruits. A raw trail mix is also another way to use dried fruits.
However, dried fruits are not equal in each and every aspect, especially when it comes to the nutritional value. Since a number of dried fruits are prepared using oils, added sugar , sulfites , and benzoate preservatives, you should be careful when making your choice.
When buying dried fruits, always consider the organically raised variety so as to avoid the chemicals and pesticides that are used when growing the crops.
best-dried fruits you can find on the market:
Eating apricots are some of the best ways to lower your blood sugar levels. It works much better than most of the other dried fruits.
Apart from supplying you with natural fructose, apricots are rich in antioxidants. They contain high amounts of fiber, as well as, vitamin C. Apricots are easily digestible given their low fructose content.
Due to the high vitamin A content, dried apricots are useful when it comes to improving immunity and protecting the skin. They also increase your dietary fiber intake, thus helping improve digestive function and heart health. Apricots are also loaded with antioxidants which help remove toxins from the body and enhance skin health.
To avoid taking in certain chemicals, try buying organically produced apricots. Others have lots of added sugar, sulfites, and other preservatives. You don’t want these to get anywhere near your mouth.
Apricots can be used in any recipe that would require figs and dates. In their chopped form, apricots are very good in granola bars, energy bars, and muffins. They supply very few calories and can, therefore, aid your weight loss efforts.
2. Black Mission Figs
Did you know that you can get more calcium in a cup of figs than that of milk? They are, therefore, very good when it comes to lowering blood pressure and increasing bone density.
Figs also contain high amounts of iron, magnesium, and vitamin B 6. Their high content of soluble fiber aids gut health by relieving constipation and bloating.
In their dried form, black figs tend to have a higher nutritional value than the fresh ones. Due to the high fiber content in dried figs, they help regulate the digestive system and aid weight loss.
Figs are a great substitute for dates, given their low sugar content but with just as good a flavor. All you have to do is soak them and use the same amount of dried figs in an appropriate recipe.
Apart from that, figs have also been found to offer protection against breast cancer after menopause. They also help reduce insulin sensitivity in diabetics.
Compared to the regular Turkish figs, black mission figs have a high antioxidant content. However, in all fig varieties, you will get equal amounts of fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
To top it up, figs have a great taste, more like caramel or a combination of raisins and vanilla.
3. Dried Plums
Also known as prunes, dried plums are good for more than everyday consumption. They have a high content of boron, a mineral that plays an important part in bone strength.
These are some of the best-dried fruits that act as a source of soluble fiber, potassium, and iron. Apart from being a tasty treat, prunes are also rich in vitamin C and low in their sugar content.
Due to their high fiber content, prunes help better intestinal peristalsis, the process through which removes waste and toxins from the body. This helps promote digestive health and faster weight loss.
This is also useful when it comes to regulating blood sugar levels. High fiber slows down digestion thus reducing the rate at which sugar gets absorbed into the blood.
The high antioxidant content in dried plums means they are suitable for reducing the risk of diabetes and heart health.
It works by fighting inflammation thus preventing damage to the cells that cause disease. People who eat dried plums regularly are, therefore less likely to get cancer and heart disease.
You can use chopped plums in recipes for baked goods, bars, and muffins. If you want, find a method that requires dates and use dried plums as well.
Are you eating mulberries already? What are you waiting for? Mulberries are the best-dried fruits, especially when it comes to acting as a source of vitamin C.
Just a cup of these great fruits will supply you with over 130 percent of the vitamin C you need on a daily basis. Mulberries also have high amounts of the B vitamins, iron, potassium, and magnesium. However, they have a very low sugar content.
Due to the high antioxidant content, mulberries are known to make you look younger even as you live longer, thanks to the results of one study . They also contain alkaloids that are effective when it comes to activating macrophages (white blood cells), for improved immunity.
From their look, mulberries can easily be confused with raisins. As for their taste, it is much more like that of wine, raisins, figs, and vanilla combined.
However, it’s not enough to eat mulberries. The best is the unprocessed, organic variety. Use them in any recipe that requires raisins.
5. Goji Berries
Considered a superfood, goji berries are perhaps the best-dried fruits. By their nature, goji berries have a somewhat rougher texture compared to raisins.
Despite that, they are a perfect substitute for raisins in any recipe. Before using them, soak in water to make them soft as desired.
Goji berries have very high amounts of antioxidants such as vitamin A and vitamin C. this makes goji berries very useful when it comes to removing toxins from the body and promoting skin health .
That’s in addition to fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health and regulating the levels of sugar in the blood.
These are also the best-dried fruits especially when it comes to the nutrient content . They are a trusted source of protein, fat, copper, selenium, vitamin B2, iron, potassium, thiamine, and zinc.
Another great thing about goji berries is that they are delightful. Eating these dried fruits on any day can give you a huge energy boost especially for better performance and recovery after a workout.
Raisins are perhaps the cheapest dried fruits, especially when it comes to supplying you with lots of nutrients. Filled with lots of nutrients, raisins are used to make all types of dishes.
They help promote regular movement of the bowels , heart health, bone health, mood, and energy. When consumed in moderate amounts, raisins can aid weight loss.
Due to the arginine contained in raisins, they are also very useful when it comes to preventing erectile dysfunction in men.
As a natural aphrodisiac, arginine helps to improve sperm motility and, by extension, the likelihood of conceiving. In men, raisins can also help them last longer during intercourse.
As stated earlier, raisins can be used in a wide array of recipes. You should, however, buy more of the organically raised raisins, given that they have a low or non-existent chemical content.
Even in their dried form, cherries have a very high nutritional value. Their antioxidant content is high enough to be able to fight off chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease.
Cherries are also slow to digest and have a low glycemic index, which makes them good for digestive health and blood sugar content.
That’s the other reason cherries are great for fighting diabetes. Consuming cherries in large amounts has also been found to relieve people against the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis .
It is good to embrace dried fruits given the many health benefits you will get from them. Eating them regularly can help prevent cancer and heart disease. However, don’t just stick to one fruit.
By rotating them in your diet, you get to enjoy all the benefits of each one of them. Even as you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, learn to eat dried fruits too. You will love them.
What to do with Dried Fruit? Reconstitute!
Dried fruit is one of the most convenient, healthy snacks to keep on hand for many reasons. Unlike fresh fruit, it has a shelf life of months, not days! It’s also extremely portable for those on-the-go occasions. But even dried fruit enthusiasts might be surprised to know that dried fruit can be reconstituted to replace fresh or frozen fruit when baking and cooking (or simply enjoying in a whole new way!). Traina Foods talks reconstitution with these five simple tips.
1. Be patient.
Reconstituting dried fruit can take time… lots of time. It’s recommended to soak it overnight. But depending on the size and amount of dried fruit, it can take between one and eight hours. However, heating it with liquid can speed up the process. Only add enough water or liquid to cover the fruit in the container, as too much liquid can dilute the flavor. A good measure is equal parts dried fruit and liquid. However, more liquid may need to be added to fully plump up the fruit, so monitor the reconstitution process.
2. Play it safe.
While it’s perfectly fine to store dried fruit in the pantry, once the reconstitution process begins, the fruit/liquid should be placed in the refrigerator. This prevents the fruit and liquid combination from forming any microorganisms during the process. Also, once the reconstitution process is complete, the fruit can spoil quickly so only reconstitute the amount needed for one recipe at a time.
3. Add flavor.
Play with flavors when reconstituting dried fruit. Instead of water, use 100 percent fruit juice to add a stronger flavor of the same fruit, or mixed a complementary juice-dried fruit combination for a bold new flavor! This enhances the flavor for baking recipes and also adds sweetness without adding refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
4. Save that liquid gold!
Reconstituted dried fruit may not provide the exact texture as fresh fruit would in any given recipe. One way to rectify this is to reserve the liquid after reconstituting the fruit. That way, if more liquid is needed, it’s already naturally flavored. This “liquid gold” can also be used in place of milk, as part of a way to make a baking recipe vegan for example, or other liquid that a recipe calls for.
5. Hold the sugar.
Contact with sugar can make dried fruit tough if it’s not yet entirely reconstituted. When adding reconstituted fruit to a recipe that also calls for sugar, wait until the fruit has completely plumped up before mixing in the sugar. This will ensure the fruit stays soft and chewy.