Thursday, 18 June 2015


A charmingly sensitive email from a neighbour pinged into my Inbox the other day. This is what it said:

I have just been into the village hall and went upstairs to discover a mass of tiny moths over a lot of the wall! I think they are probably carpet moths. I wondered if you had any advice on either getting rid of them or dare I say it killing them. Is that a terrible thing to ask a man who loves moths.?!! I do apologise if it is.

Like Sherlock Holmes (or to be more accurate in terms of physique and intellectual capacity, Doctor Watson), I at once set out to investigate.

Each dot is a Tineola

The top three pictures are what I found: that small but deadly enemy of woollen carpets and high quality garments - think cashmere - the Common Clothes Moth. Known officially by the grander name of Tineola bisselliella - all micro moths have macro Linnean names - it is a menace. Chemical sprays are probably the best bet, though close-quarters Hoovering, using every available nozzle, is also effective. If damage to clothes is the problem, the answer is: don't store them, wear them. Clothes moths do not like being disturbed.

I am not sentimental about Clothes Moths, as you can see. I notice, though, that when I double-checked the little pests' identity on the Upper Thames Moths blog, the ultimate internet resource for baffled  mothpeople, the kind-hearted expert Dave Wilton, suggested that the carpets be changed to man-made fibre ones. I have passed all this on. I must also add that if anyone asked me which musical instrument I played, I would be tempted to reply: "The Tineola".

A bonus of walking up to the village hall was discovering that our three regular orchids are all in flower and there may possibly be a fourth. The ones I know about are the first three shown here: Bee, Pyramidal and Green-winged. But is the fourth picture something else?  If any passing orchidophile can put me right, I would be very grateful.

In the lovely sunshine, I also put up the Meadow Browns and Speckled Wood butterflies shown here, along with Large Whites, Brimstones and Small Tortoiseshells.  As W H Auden wrote of his schoolmastering days:  

Lucky this point time and space
Is chosen as my working place.

I give thanks daily.

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