‘There’s a Pokémon in the Lloyd Cockermouth fridge’, said one of the chaps on reception, returning, I presume, from the kitchen. Much bemused chortling from we grown-ups, waiting for our cars.
(I assume young Pokémon will long-since have moved on, so it’s reasonably safe to reveal its whereabouts. Those Mini people are so nice, I’d really not wish on them an invasion of Pokémon hunters).
Pokémon, it seems, are everywhere. In the fridge, hiding in the dark, hiding in the street, coming through the trees… no wait a minute, that’s Kate Bush… I reckon they’re knocking about at the bottom of our garden too, judging by the gaggles of youngsters now regularly spotted lingering past. They never bothered before – and we’ve got conkers! My, how times have changed.
I even looked into downloading the app to my own device – in the interests of research, you understand – but as it’s neither ‘optimised for tablets’ nor my current iPhone (so far down the iPhone hierarchy it’s practically fossilised), the delights of Squirtle and Wigglytuff, and all their pocket monster pals, remain hidden to this particular grown-up.
Back to Candy Crush it is, then.
London, I read in the fashion pages of The Times, is in the midst of ‘a lepidopteran onslaught’. That’s ‘moth blight’ to you and me. Blamed by some on the current trend for vintage clothes – you know, the ones some of us wore in the 1970s and ’80s, when we were cool. Hence it being a ‘fashion’ matter.
Well, I hate to break it to Londoners, but they’re not claiming the high ground on this one. Tineola bisselliella is alive and well in Cockermouth. And feasting royally, if my carpets are anything to go by.
I’ve never had moths before. Not even as a small child. But then that may be because, back then, every wardrobe, every cupboard, every grown-up’s handbag, every guest bedroom, every single piece of bedding, dammit, seemed drenched in the delicate eau de moth balls. Naphthalene: smelly as hell and highly flammable.
But I can honestly say, since I myself became a grown-up (by which I mean being responsible for the welfare of my own bedding, clothes and carpets), I have never used a single moth ball. Never had a single carpet knowingly nibbled by moths.
All that changed the day we moved in here and saw the state of the spare room carpet. What was left of it. Suffice to say, there were a lot of rugs and chairs judiciously placed in that room when we viewed! Once we’d identified this pox, the offending carpet was summarily chopped up and chucked out of the window (rather than carry through the house) and the room (indeed, the whole house) treated with moth killer. And that, we thought, would be it, innocents that we were. Oh how they laugh, those Tineola bisselliella, their little moth chops bulging with wool.
They’re under the bed, behind the sofa, inside the wardrobe, hiding in the dark. Coming through the trees too, if my shiny new mother-in-law is to be believed. (Although, like this one, my last house also had a lovely big tree, so maybe not).
Moths! They’re little blighters. And they will not surrender, damn them.
So… moth balls. (And here I apologise in advance for any double entendres, intended or otherwise). Moth balls. They’ve changed, you know. Unlike moths. I suspect moths are pretty much as they always were: voracious carpet munchers. Carpet munchers extraordinaire. Yes, moth balls, once distinguishable by their purpleness (and distinctive noxious niff), are now either orange (turning white once they’ve outlived their usefulness) or white to begin with. You might get a bit of purple on the packaging but that’s your lot.
And they stopped using naphthalene in 2008, apparently, due its propensity to catch fire easily and make people sick.
Anyway. We’ve tried moth balls. And cedar balls. And cedar cubes and cedar hanging thingies. We gave up on the cubes when we found a moth perched defiantly on top of one, à la Fox’s Glacier Mints. It didn’t live long enough to claim bragging rights with its mates but it took some catching, I can tell you.
We’ve hung strips of moth-repelling paper in amongst our clothing, but this generally winds up in a tangled heap at the bottom of the wardrobe shortly after deployment.
We’ve squirted chemical sprays and stuck ‘demi-diamond’ plastic traps in dark, secluded places. These sticky pheremone pads attract the male carpet moths, trapping them so they can’t reproduce with the females. These I would recommend, if for no other reason than their use becomes something of a spectator sport, much like the fly papers. ‘Yesss! Another one! Die, damn you!’
From a natural point of view, we’ve plucked lavender and rosemary fresh from the garden. We’ve poured boiling water on carpets to kill eggs, washed surfaces with vinegar and worked our way through an inordinate number of vacuum bags. We’ve even tried swearing at them, quite profusely, but they are either immune. Or deaf. Or both.
Thus far, we’ve resisted the temptation to ‘get someone in’ (expensive and not necessarily effective in the long term). The last time I did that it involved an invasion of bird mites in the bedroom (a story for another time). Thanks to the pungent pong of mite-killer, I was forced to sleep on the sofa for a week and replace all the bedding. And my walls were so streaked with insecticide, I had to redecorate every room upstairs. Not an experience I’m keen to repeat.
No. We’re in this for the long haul. It’s war. And the campaign of attrition grinds on.