Will you be affected by an invasion of house moths?
The Sunday Times August 19, 2018
Watch out! The number of moths is set to soar, along with other pesky blighters
Hot and dry conditions have led to more butterflies — lovely — but also to peaks in pest populations — unlovely. It’s all to do with metabolic rate: heat speeds up insects’ metabolism, so they eat faster, digest food quicker and rapidly convert it into insect protein biomass, especially during the larval growing stage. As a result, development and generation times are much shorter.
Thus, house moths, carpet beetles and larder pests can quickly reach plague proportions. If you find an outbreak, deal with it immediately or you’ll have 10 times the number in a couple of weeks and 100 times more in a month. Take out everything, check it, wipe down, clear out anything infested (bin or clean it) and vacuum corners for eggs and pupae. For more treatment tips, visit our website for Home’s April 22 article How to Tackle the Clothes Moth Epidemic.
The heat can encourage new nuisances to appear: greenbottles and blowflies buzzing around bins where the dregs left in cat-food sachets are fermenting, for example. One fly can lay 100 eggs, which means 100 maggots in the bin. When fully grown, they shimmy up and out to pupate in secret corners of the kitchen. A never-ending buzz of disorientated flies can go on for days as they emerge from their chrysalises. Clear out rubbish, kitchen caddies and overripe fruit frequently. Sticky fly papers are archaic, and can look a bit grisly, but they are effective, non-toxic and the best eco-friendly solution.
Wasps, important predators to control caterpillars, aphids and blowflies, are thriving. This is a natural product of the colony growth cycle, which is nearing its pinnacle. Founded by a single queen in May, with a first brood of only 10-15 workers in June, a colony may grow to thousands in a hot summer. If you suspect a nest, call in a professional.
“If you find an outbreak, deal with it immediately or you’ll have 10 times the number in a couple of weeks and 100 times more in a month.”
The hot weather can also embolden pests to spread. Cockroaches, mealworm beetles and larder beetles are actively flying about outside, looking for new colony sites, which they find when we leave our windows open at night. Swatting or squishing is the only answer — there are no chemical deterrents. If you live near a pond, lake, marsh or fen, then beware mosquitoes, which are also multiplying in the warm weather, and will take advantage of any opening. In the daytime, they seek dark, cool openings and rest up behind the wardrobe until they can bite you when you sleep. Mesh screens are expensive, but will offer respite.
Non-domestic, “wild” moths, bumblebees and hoverflies just need to be shooed back outside.
Richard Jones is the author of House Guests, House Pests (Bloomsbury £9.99); bugmanjones.com