Yesterday was a day for bats and all things creepy but today let’s move on to a real-life flying monster – the dreaded common clothes moth or, if you prefer,
Tineola biselliella. If you see just one of these small white, innocuous looking beasties in your home get on the defence straight away else you will become the victim of a merciless attack which will do this to your cardies
and this to your carpets
and if they can’t find wool to gobble some people report that they will make do with silk.
I have first hand experience of a moth invasion – it starts so slowly you don’t even notice, then one day I was hoovering the edge of a rug which was tucked under a chest of drawers when I saw the pile was just being sucked up. Then the nightmare started – I found whole parties of tiny wriggling larvae,
some crispy cocoons
and eggs – lots of eggs, tint and profuse and pretty well hidden, until you know what you are looking at.
So this is the life cycle of the common clothes moth explained in one easy diagram.
I didn’t spot the problem early enough and all my rugs were affected – some beyond repair. And I’m not the only one. The problem is growing because of our modern lifestyle which means warm houses all year round and a proliferation of wool, cashmere and silk in our consumer society. Plus, it seems, we are more slovenly than we were in the past, we don’t open our windows, air our wardrobes, shake out our clothes regularly and we certainly don’t beat our rugs anymore.
So what can we do? Firstly, understand the enemy: this is not a moth that loves the flame – instead, they will quite happily spend months concealed in dark wardrobes where they can breed in peace and let their progeny feast on your favourite clothes. They have a roughly three week life cycle.
Second – Do all of the above to let the light and air into your belongings. Hoover fastidiously especially under beds and furniture. Let the light into dark places on a regular basis. Shake your clothes out once every three weeks, boil wash any clothes that will take the heat. Brush your upholstery down vigorously – this will kill any eggs. Wash all your clothes regularly – these little lovelies adore a sweaty armpit or a gravy stained front.
Thirdly – once we’ve cleaned our belongings thoroughly we can seal them in plastic boxes and special moth-proof bags.
And fourthly we can resort to chemicals. The old fashioned camphor balls our parents used are now a banned substance but there are sprays and replacement solid deterrents as well as natural repellents such as lavender and cedar which help.
Good luck with creating your own no-fly zone – any brilliant tips to keep these creepies away will be most welcome.
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