moths invade UK
There has been a surge in moths invading UK homesWikimedia

British residents are forking out hundreds of pounds to clean out their moth-infested homes due to a sudden surge in the pesky creatures. Pest control firm, Rentokil, has seen a 20% rise in the number of the critters invading UK households between December 2015 and March 2016 compared to the previous year.

Our mild winter has provided optimum conditions for the moths to flourish and plague households and ruin garments. Moth larvae cause damage by feeding on the fabrics from clothes and upholstered furniture, often hidden in dark and obscure areas.

Terry Clark, of Environ Pest Control, said he normally charges between £400-£600 ($568-$850) to remove moths from a three-bedroom home, but sometimes will charge up to £1,600.

He told MailOnline: "We've dealt with moths in the wardrobes of well-known people filled with £250,000 of clothes – chewed up by moths.

"They are a crafty, invasive insect that are very small and hard to detect. They can even live in the felt of your piano."

Sneaky insects

David Cross, from Rentokil said the moths were often found in dark, hidden areas where clothes are stored, behind or below furniture.

"To avoid playing host to an unwanted collection of visitors on your precious belongings, it is important to remain vigilant to the signs of an infestation such as holes in fabrics and insects crawling on the floor near or around upholstered furniture," he told the Guardian.

Normally moth infestations can be treated by using spray or heat treatments. But new scientific trials, conducted by Cross, have tested an alternative treatment by confusing the sex of moths.

A new pheromone 'perfume' can be sprayed on to male moths, indicating that they are female. This repels female moths away, preventing them from reproducing.

"By experimenting with their natural pheromones and limiting the reproduction cycle, we can effectively get moths out of the closet and prevent damage to clothes and furniture," he said.

Tips to remove moths:

  • Search for the cause of the problem. It might be in a wardrobe, chest of drawers or cupboard.
  • Start to get rid of the moths by using DIY moth traps to catch the adults, and vacuuming regularly in the affected area to remove all the larvae.
  • Thoroughly wash all your clothes and other fabrics in the infected area, such as bed sheets, linen, duvets and blankets. (source: Rentokil)