I am over the bugs - really, truly TOTALLY over them.

I don't like creepy, crawly things anyway - and have never been much of a 'bug' girl.    My method of dealing with insects has always been avoidance (and a good exterminator),  but life in Africa has taught me to be less squeamish overall.   I have learned to squash those bugs and move right on.

We've had the apartment/flat sprayed and treated often, which appears to keep all bugs under basic control (more or less).

Little did I know that I was bringing them in - and obviously breeding them.

Bean weevils - ugh.

I am in charge of purchasing the food for student lunches on a monthly basis for two local schools.

Every month, we buy 100 kilos of Mama Gold rice from the local market, along with 20 kilos of beans, 10 tins of tomatoes, 400 grams of rosemary and thyme, 55 loaves of bread from the local bakery,  30 liters of vegetable oil from a different market,  10 liters of red palm oil, 1 case of spaghetti noodles, 3 boxes of maggi (crayfish seasoning) and 5 kilos of salt.    It's a lot of work, but very rewarding and I am privileged to do it.

Every month the beans present a problem.    20 kilos of beans is an odd amount and we don't get much of a cost break from this size.  I figured out that I could buy a full 50 kilo bag and just keep the rest for the following month, saving me time, effort AND money.  We function on a tight budget for the lunches and I want the donated funds to go as far as possible.

One school receives 13 kilos of beans and the other gets 7 kilos to supplement their meals.  Any way we look at it,  I weigh beans every month, package them in plastic bags, label them and put them in a large rubbermaid container in a back bedroom.

And THAT is exactly where this oyibo went wrong.

Bean bugs - You are Welcome to Banana Island.

I am obviously a city gal.

In all honesty, I noticed several bugs crawling up the wall in the guest bedroom - a few times.  I killed them and didn't think much about it.

Then, I opened the rubbermaid container.  Oh. My. Goodness!   There seemed to be bugs everywhere.   We took out all the bags of beans,  cleaned the containers well with disinfectant and put them back into the boxes, thinking the problem was solved.   Little did I know that the plastic bags were creating the perfect humid environment to grow LOTS of bean weevils and the rubbermaid containers were aiding the process.    Three days later,  I opened the containers again to prepare the stash for the schools - and surprise - the bugs had multiplied.  

I wish I had taken a picture of the wall filled with HUNDREDS of little black weevils.  I was out of bug spray and totally desperate, so I grabbed the household disinfectant spray and aimed.  Bugs were sliding down the wall and on the bed sheets.  Bugs were on the curtains, on the side tables and IN the closet that we use as a pantry.   A Nigerian friend stopped by and started dragging the two large rubbermaid containers down the hall, through the den and out onto the balcony.  After her initial surprise (and laughter) about the spray cleaner, she explained that bean weevils are killed by the sun.  Together we spread out 40 kilos of beans on our balcony with bugs just running everywhere.  She told me to 'stir' them often and to let them dry out for a day or two - and they would be fine.

I followed that wise advise, right up to the time that I noticed RAIN.

We ran out, put beans into containers and pulled them inside.  The following morning, we put them out again with even MORE bugs and hoped that they would dry quickly.

Yeah...that plan didn't work either.  INFESTATION.  I found out later that the female bean weevil ((Acanthoscelides objects) burrows holes in the beans and LAYS HER EGGS INSIDE.  Ugh!  It was suggested by knowledgable people to take ALL the beans out to the school and the village cooks would know exactly what to do.

Somehow in the 45 minute boat ride that we take out to the school and the time sitting in the sun waiting on the village cook,  those pesky bugs ATE right through the plastic bags.

The cook immediately went to work laying the beans on a large wooden board right in the sun.  The plan was to let them dry overnight, then sift the dead bugs out and cook the beans.

Beans are laid out on the table in the back of the picture on the right. 

I felt bad about the buggy beans, but they received double the amount than normal and I hoped that would account for the extra trouble.   It didn't seem to phase them in the least - Thankfully!

I returned to  our flat to see that Gabriel had swept up all the scattered beans on the balcony.  I suggested to throw them away - far, far away.    He preferred to cook them for himself and the driver since he has a bit more issues than I do in throwing away food.

Later, I walked in the kitchen to see dead bugs floating at the top of a pot of beans.  When I looked closer, I noticed that many beans had holes in them with bugs INSIDE.   Yuck!   Gabriel explained that bug-filled beans just gave extra protein to the meal and he was looking forward to having them for dinner.   When I shared that information with our driver, he had a different view - and wanted NO part of the beans! :)
Non-buggy bean picture
So our mission is to have ALL bugs and ALL beans gone from our flat VERY soon (which seemed to continue multiplying for a while).  I have learned more about weevils and bugs (and storing beans) than I ever cared to know.

The beans for next month will NOT be purchased early and they will immediately be placed in the freezer for a complete de-bugging before sending off to the schools.

Bean weevils Beware! 


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