When our Torah speaks about the Festival of Sukkos it states, “Chag HaSukkos Taaseh Lecha B’Aspecha Migornecha U’Miyikvecha.”1 “The Sukkos holiday should be observed at the time that you harvest your grain and your wine,” during the fall. Our Chachamim, sages, have taught us that this pasuk has another esoteric meaning. The sukkah, in which we dwell during this chag, should be made from the unused parts of the harvesting grain and wine, namely the stalks of grain and twigs of the vine. These are the items that should be used for the schach, the covering, which is placed on top of the sukkah instead of a permanent roof.
Stored improperly, schach can become a target and breeding ground for insects. These insects could then drop onto the table and into your food.
When schach is wrapped in plastic or any similar non-breathing material, ambient temperature changes may lead to development of condensate inside the wrapper. This can create a moist environment ideal for breeding insects.
People tend to keep schach mats in their original bags and then store it in areas that are not climate-controlled (e.g., basement storage rooms, garages, sheds). These types of conditions often lead to infestation.
While we do not have statistics to show how often schach is infested, it would seem prudent to prevent schach infestation by not storing it in plastic. If you must wrap it, use paper, or leave the plastic open so it can vent. Under dry conditions – whether temperatures are cool or hot – insects won’t thrive.
The STAR-K currently certifies schach made from bamboo slats held together with monofilament type cord for use during Sukkos. The following is an explanation of the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann regarding this item: