It was not until a friend revealed that she had had to have a valuable antique rug expensively restored as a result of moth damage that I felt able to discuss my own battle with these pernicious pests. Since my outbreak – finally, but too late, traced to a roll of leftover carpet in the loft – I have heard of Savile Row suits being consumed (the beasts love fine worsted as much as cashmere) and costume museums that freeze every incoming garment and, once cleaned, hermetically seal them to prevent any spread.
Theories to explain the increase in moths vary from climate change or the EU-wide banning of naphthalene (the chemical in old-fashioned mothballs) to the growing use of finer natural fibres and the sheer amount of stuff we now possess, which results in overcrowded closets where the grubs can feast undisturbed. Getting rid of them is not easy and may require professional help, with industrial-strength products. Even after this, you have to keep at it, but there are some useful aids.
I have festooned my cupboards with Zensect Moth Proofer balls (£3.49 from John Lewis) which contain the milder chemical transfluthrin – they start bright orange but fade to white as they become less effective, a reminder of when replacement is due. I also use their hanging six-month Moth Proofers (£3.99) which include a calendar on which to mark the month when a replacement is due.
Having just scrutinised my winter woollies, the problem seems to be at bay, but to keep it that way I’m also using Total Wardrobe Care’s Moth Box (£7), a pheromone trap that catches the males and helps stop the breeding cycle. With elegant mauve stripes and a joky little moth drawing, it looks good and it works – as the body-count shows. Their organic lavender anti-moth candle (pictured, £20) is more of an indulgence, but it’s a pleasure to have rooms smelling of sweet herbs rather than musty mothballs.