Well, you all remember last winter, its handicaps,
its disappointments. Remember when you lost your shirt, your coat, your smart frock? All
were ruined? And now it’s happening again. The spring’s over, and the season’s here.
The big sport begins: the moths are back and here they come, bunched up, neck and neck,
wingtip to wingtip, every one a moth and every moth with an evil design… Hello! My name is David Pinniger, and I’m
an entomologist, which means I study insects. And my job is to help people with pests in historic houses and museums. And I’m Dee Lauder, and I’m English Heritage’s Collections Pest Control Manager. And we’re
here today to help you learn how to deal with clothes moths. Clothes moths are small and silvery-gold, and you’ll see them flying around the house.
And they don’t do any damage at all – but they lay eggs which hatch into tiny grubs,
or larvae, and they are the things that cause the damage. Clothes moth larvae will eat a lot of different fabrics, but only those which have materials
of animal origin. So we’re talking about wool, fur, feathers and silk. The larvae have jaws
at the front which work sideways like bolt cutters, and they’ll cut through fibres of
carpet or your best woollen jumper. Clothes moth larvae will eat clean clothes, but they
much prefer it when they’re stained and dirty. They will also eat other materials which are
stained such as this dining room carpet, where food has been spilled on the carpet, and the
larvae have completely eaten away all of the fabric in that area. You need to look for signs of the larvae, like in this carpet, where the larvae have been walking across and spinning silk, which they leave behind. They also leave behind
small gritty pellets known as frass, which is insect poo! Clothes moth larvae can wreak real havoc onto items, so for example this piece of fur here,
this has been stored away for quite a considerable amount of time. At English Heritage we would
regularly check items like this to ensure that this kind of damage does not happen. The other thing that we’ve always done is to use very, very good house cleaning methods.
Instead of just running a vacuum across the floor we actually go a little bit deeper with
our cleaning. So this will involve moving heavy items of furniture sitting on top of
carpets and cleaning underneath them regularly, especially during the spring and summer months. You can basically carry out the same sort
of measures that we’re carrying out at English Heritage. You could also carry out your own
treatment at home – so for example, if you find that a favourite jumper of yours has
got clothes moth larvae in it, just simply bag it up, place it in your freezer for two
weeks at -18C and that should kill off all the moth larvae. There’s no such thing as a silver bullet for clothes moths – we’ve been battling them for
centuries. Yes, in fact during the 16th century, Elizabeth
I employed eight men to beat her furs for the duration of a whole day! So good luck
beating those clothes moths in your homes! You can still win! Get busy at once. Leave
not a moth, not an egg in a basket-full. Beat the field, and keep your shirt for next season!