LONDON IS suffering an outbreak of rapacious moths, and people in the northeast of the capital are desperate for solutions.
Local shops that carry insecticides have had rushes on their stock from worried householders, even in the grander parts of Hackney and Islington, where such potentially unecological products would normally be sniffed at.
Tony Mahmood, of Bradbury’s, in Broadway Market, pictured at top, which sells everything from garden tools and electrical goods to bin bags and brushes, says residents are stocking up on spray for carpets, rugs and soft furnishings to fight infestations of Tineola bisselliella, the common clothes (aka “carpet”) moth, which measures about 5mm and has a wingspan of 14mm to 18mm.
He adds: “We’ve spent thousands of pounds replenishing our stocks. Breakouts [of T. bisselliella] can prove costly for homeowners.
“People come in all the time, shouting ‘Moths, I’ve got moths!’ In the past three years we’ve seen a massive increase in the number of customers searching for ways to deal with their pest-control problem.”
The anti-moth items are not cheap: even £20 will not take you far along the shelves.
Over a three-week period an adult female moth lays about 40 tiny grain-like eggs on fabric. They hatch a few days later. The larvae cause the most damage: they can eat their way through garments for up to two years.
Rentokil technical training academy head David Cross explains: “Moths thrive in dark, enclosed environments such as wardrobes, draws and cupboards. Their larvae feed on keratin, which is found in natural fibres such as silk, cotton, wool, linen and fur rather than in dirt and grime.”
Warm weather and increased food availability could increase insect reproduction.
“But,” he emphasises, “food availability is not always related to bad hygiene: a woollen carpet will contain enough food to sustain a significant moth population.”
Here’s how to avoid the distress of finding holes in clothes and rugs:
* store woollen garments in clean drawers. keep clothes in sealed plastic bags or suitcases;
* vacuum-clean often to remove moth eggs, including under sofas;
* dirty clothing is particularly attractive to moths, so clean before storing;
* do not store carpet ends in dark areas;
* use insecticidal spray and powder;
* if necessary, keep your clothes in the freezer because moths and their eggs cannot survive cold.
If none of these measures stop the telltale nibbles appearing, consider hiring a pest-control company.
Mayen Ukanah 280515
* Bradbury, 79-81 Broadway Market London E8 4PH ( 020 7254 5292, 020 7684 0232)
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing on them.