12 August 2011

Corn-based litter bug problem

Worlds Best Cat LitterBecause of what happened to us last night, if you're using a corn, wheat, or pine-based litter, you may want to keep a close eye out for bug infestations near your litter storage or litter boxes.

A few months ago I switched from The Worlds Best Cat Litter, which is a corn-based product, to Dr. Elsey's clay litter. I was very happy with the Worlds Best Cat Litter but I thought Sammi's itchy red bumps might be due to an allergy and since she can't eat grain, maybe corn litter was giving her problems.  I had about 1/2 bag of Worlds Best Cat Litter left, so I stored it in the garage.

We're now thinking Sammi is allergic to chicken so the corn litter probably wasn't an issue. A few days ago I ran out of clay litter so I brought in the bag of Worlds Best Cat Litter from the garage and topped-off one of the  litter boxes that was getting low.  It's been two or three days since I brought the litter in, and last night I noticed 40-50 little bugs crawling all around the bag of litter, up the wall, and a few bugs near the litter boxes. Yikes! Creepy crawlies in the house.

Even though it was after 11pm, there was no option but to start cleaning. I carefully took  the left-over Worlds Best Cat Litter, the litter box with the mixed litter in it, the litter mat, broom, and all the other items I keep near the litter boxes out to the back yard. I vacuumed the bathroom floor and used the crevice tool to get under the baseboards. I mopped the floor and wiped the walls. Then I gave the clay-only litter box a thorough inspection. I didn't see any bugs in it, which was good, because I would have had to go out at midnight to find some clean litter for the cats!

Luckily, I noticed the little critters  before they crawled all over the room. Even luckier was that I don't think any hitch-hiked aboard the cats when they were using that mixed corn/clay litter box.

Corn litter bug

seed corn beetle




The first bug is a photo of one that was in the bathroom. I searched online and it looks a lot like some type of seed corn beetle shown in the second photo. The bug website said they get the black spots on their wings and head when they are mature, so my bugs were probably still in the "baby" stage.  :-)

I was thinking of going back to the Worlds Best Cat litter but I'm definitely not doing that now. I don't know if the bugs developing was a fluke because I stored the bag of Worlds Best Cat Litter in the garage for a few months, but I'm not willing to take the chance of it happening again. The bags may be stored for months in the store and even longer at home if I buy several bags when they're on sale.

I imagine this could happen with any corn, wheat, or pine based litter product. Those are agricultural crops and crops have bugs and bug larvae. I'm guessing that the bug larvae survives the litter manufacturing process, and under the right conditions the larvae can develop into creepy-crawly bugs.

I purchased two bags of clay litter this afternoon and refilled both litter boxes with fresh clay litter. We'll be a clay litter house from now on.

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