Carpet moths make a hole in Hackney wallets

Moth control: John Kinnersley, L, & Tony Mahmood of Bradbury's store 79-81 Broadway Market Hackney LondonE8 4PH 290515 ©
Tony Mahmoud: “People come in all the time, shouting ‘Moths, I’ve got moths!’”
mothdamage: DalstonLondon E8 280515 ©
Mothafugger: what the furtive and tiny insect can do to a fitted carpet
Carpet (common) moth in Dalston 040715 ©
Carpet bomber: common moth

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, main picture, 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.

carpet©DA19: accidentally drowned Tineola bisselliella, common clothes (aka “carpet”) moth, in Dalston, Hackney © 180819
Thumbs down: this accidentally drowned insect gives you an idea of what you’re up against

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.

mothdamage: DalstonLondon E8 280515 ©
Eaten away: gaps in Berber wool carpet

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:

Scale: small but dangerous
Scale of problem: 5mm

* 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) 

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One thought on “Carpet moths make a hole in Hackney wallets

  1. Thanks for giving the explanation about carpets in this article. I like your news site.

    Not that I have been able to stop the little rotters. I vacuum my home every few days and used the materials mentioned in the piece, but still they reproduce. You can buy the deterrents also on line and at Harvest in Kingsland High Street, Dalston.– David, Ed.

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