The days are getting longer, the sunshine’s warmer and we’re beginning to dress more lightly. But as you put those thick sweaters away, take care not to create a summer of packed lunches for moths.
Many of us associate pests with the dark, dirty worlds beneath the floorboards or in the kitchens of seedy cafes and restaurants. So it may come as a surprise to discover that moths are often the subject of pest control measures.
They can be a problem in both domestic and commercial premises. And once they’re arrived, these tiny nibblers are often tricky to get rid of.
The adult Common Clothes Moth likes nothing more than to lay tiny, almost invisible, eggs on clothing or carpets. Being ‘butterflies of the night’, the moths prefer to do their business in dark, quiet spots, where they’re less likely to be disturbed.
The eggs soon hatch into minute, hungry caterpillars who start gobbling up any natural fibres they can get their little mouths into. Cotton, wool, linen, silk and furs are popular dishes and they’ll also make a meal of foodstuffs such as flour and biscuits.
Well-fed, the wriggling white worms are ready to pupate, or to become adults, within five to six weeks of hatching. But when food’s scarce they can take up to two and a half years to reach this stage. When that time comes, they crawl off to a quiet spot, form a cocoon around themselves, and emerge as adults three or four weeks later.
It is the caterpillars that do the damage to your clothes and fabric. If you spot the small adult moths with their golden wings, it’s too late. All they do is mate, leaving the females to lay their eggs to start the whole cycle again.
Probably the most effective way to protect your winter woollies from moths is to keep them in a light, airy place. Alternatively, they can be wrapped in plastic or stored alongside strongly scented moth repellents. There was a reason why Granny’s clothes always smelled of lavender.