When the winter munchies means moth problems

Have you craved ‘comfort’ food through winter? Scientists suspect that colder temperatures and fewer daylight hours trigger an ancient biological response to fatten up to survive tough environmental conditions, the way many animals do.

That can’t always justify us eating an extra piece of cheese, drinking a bigger mug of hot chocolate, or capitalising on opportunities to eat more starchy food, but it does go some way to explaining why we overindulge at this time of year.

And we’re not the only creatures that are opportunistic eaters.

In the dark, warm recesses of your wardrobe and drawers, moths may also be feasting on your expensive natural fibre clothing.

Like us, moths have cravings. They enjoy woollen fibres the most because they like their food soft and fine (hello, cashmere!), and moth babies need keratin to develop. Keratin is a protein found in natural fibres including silk, leather, feathers, fur and wool.

Unfortunately, by the time you might see a common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) the damage has already been done. It’s the larvae, not the adult moths that are responsible for munching holes in your jumpers or silk clothing.

Clothes moths live for around 65 to 90 days. During that time they lay up to 50 microscopic eggs—usually on your keratin-rich fabrics—so that the larvae will have plenty to eat as they grow.

They flourish in warmer temperatures, so keep conditions cool around wardrobes and drawers and allow cool air to circulate. They also don’t like being disturbed, so take your clothing out of cupboards and give it a good shake, and make sure you give your wardrobe area a thorough vacuum, including the walls.

You might also try natural solutions such cedar blocks or lavender bags. While these won’t kill the larvae, the smell may repel the moths.

Food stains and sweaty clothes are like herbs and spices to a moth … they simply add to the flavour of their favourite fibres. That means you shouldn’t put away any clothing unless it’s well washed, or dry-cleaned.

At Ainslie laundrette, we can help with dry cleaning, or you could use our Wool and Cashmere spray from The Laundress range of products which smells divine to us, but not to moths.

However, if the damage is already done, we can also help repair the moth holes in your favourite garments. Until 31 July, we’re offering 10% off our mending service.

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