Friday, August 26, 2016

Clothes Moths

We all know how destructive the clothes moth can be whenever a favourite garment is extracted from cupboard or drawer and found to have been eaten in part by the grubs of this small and obnoxious creature.
Until about six months ago I clouted them in one way or another whenever seen.
After quite a plague of them (a shopkeeper said that there had been such in Chiswick), we adorned the inside of cupboards and drawers with anti-moth devices. These took the form of moth balls, a plethora of different coloured objects designed to kill, and an annual supply of conkers, gathered from beneath a horse chestnut tree in a nearby square.
So I thought that I had got well on the way toward eliminating these pests. Certainly the count of “kills” declined. Not many moths were seen.
Yet still Margreet would find clothes ruined by moths.
So, by chance, we thought we would try a new ploy by setting out Toblerone-shaped traps that contained sticky paper impregnated with moth-attracting pheromones. And low and behold, moths started to fall for the bait and died a sticky death.
I felt that if we could catch all flying moths for a year, we could interfere with their breeding cycle and thus with their resultant clothes-eating grubs.
What we had not noticed was that although we could see and destroy the moths by day, it was at night that they appear, like ordinary moths do, and fly around  mating and having a nice time.
As the first two traps were successful, it was most surprising to discover that in our house were so many of these destructive creatures.
I wondered if by hanging these traps in cupboards was not, in fact, attracting moths toward vulnerable clothes. So we bought refills and left them open and in places that moths might frequent – and well away from where hands or clothes might come into contact.
I laid each on a piece of paper on which I recorded the daily the number of carcasses sticking to the trap. The number was considerable – and mounted by the day.
Instructions coming with these most successful devices state that the adhesive sheets should be changed after three month’s use. Ours seem to last longer. And to increase the length of life for each one, I now fold back half of the protective sheet and pin it back with a paper clip. This then doubles the life of the sticky killer and leaves enough pheromones and sticky surface on the newly-revealed half to catch more moths when the exposed surface becomes too crowded.

From only seeing a few clothes moths six month ago in our small house, and thinking that I was winning my battle with them, I have just been around my traps counting the carcasses – and the number was one hundred and eighteen. I might really be winning.