Insect plague – moths are free! – The Manomet Present

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From Niko Nowak

Once the moths are comfortable in the closet, things can go completely wrong with woolen clothing. (picture alliance / dpa / blickwinke l / McPHOTO / AA Schauhuber)

Colorful butterflies are a real splendor, while moths lead a dark existence. And sometimes moths annoy people. But are they also dangerous?

In 1961, a new movie monster appeared on the Japanese silver screen. Mothra. A gigantic and indestructible moth. “Mothra. Indestructible. Almighty. Indescribable. “- this is how it is described in the film trailer.

In the film “Mothra Threatening the World”, the giant butterfly arrives in Tokyo and pupates.

The army fired a nuclear cannon at the cocoon, but all attempts to kill the beast failed. And even then, one rightly asks oneself: “What kind of creature is this monster god Mothra?” – or in other words – “Which herb can be used against moths?”

Yesterday and today, in the film as in reality: moths infest us humans. But what is the best way to deal with troublemakers? How do moths get into our pantries and cupboards in the first place? And should we be afraid of it?

Chemistry or lengthy struggle?

Guido Trojan is a real moth professional. It is a pest control and was proclaimed by an IT company that has been battling clothes moths in the past few weeks. Dozens – maybe hundreds of light brown shimmering butterflies cavort on the natural animal fibers of the flokatis. Trojan’s operational strategy is quickly clear: “It appears to be a more serious infestation. Unfortunately, I have to resort to chemicals.

Trojan sets up a sprayer, puts on a respirator and sprays the insecticide directly onto the wool carpet. Use is ended after a few minutes. The room where the rug is located should now be well ventilated. Because the substances are harmful to health.

If you don’t want that, you have to rely on a long moth control. It is important to vacuum regularly – including under furniture and the legs of chairs and tables. And oils can help: neem oil as well as lavender. Its ingredient azadirachtin is involved in the moth’s hormone metabolism – and prevents them from multiplying. However, it takes time. The customer doesn’t have that. However, she still asks what could have caused the moth infestation.

“There are wool carpets lying there and the clothes moths fly straight through the window. And I saw three dogs here in the office too. Of course, they also have really thick hair and everything that comes from there. “Animal – hair – of course also interesting for clothes moths,” replies Trojan.

Clothes moths get into the home or office through the window, among other things. They ignore cotton and synthetic fabrics. They prefer textiles of animal origin and lay their eggs. The larvae, up to one centimeter in size, then feed on cashmere sweaters, furs, wool carpets – or the hair of office dogs.

Freeze endangered food or in screw-top jars

Food moths go a different way than we do, explains the Berlin exterminator: “The customer carries these food moths home from the supermarket and then stores the products in the cupboards. For a few weeks the product is forgotten or it just lies there. and then at some point you open the door and then the dried fruit moths – this is the most common food moth species – come flying towards you. And then of course the alarm clock goes off.

Eliminating food mites can take weeks. (Photo alliance / dpa / blickwinkel / F. Hecker)
A female butterfly lays up to 300 eggs, from which new butterflies hatch in a short time. Dreadful. Fast enough. Contaminated food should be disposed of immediately. All other endangered products – such as grain, spices or nuts – must first be frozen, then filled into screw-top jars and hermetically sealed. Plastic packaging is no obstacle for the tiny moth larvae.

Hopefully this will prevent a new generation of butterflies from growing. It usually takes around four to ten weeks. You should monitor the infestation with the help of special scent traps for at least this long. And – just as important – to refine the cupboards with the hair dryer. Because moth eggs cannot tolerate heat.

Ichneumon wasps are natural enemies

Those who cannot get rid of such small animals can either seek professional help – moth hunters like Guido Trojan and then fight the pests with an insecticide – or bring in even more vermin. the House.

“If you look here, concentrate, you see these little black dots here,” says qualified biologist Matthias Schöller, pointing to an apparently empty plastic bag. You can only see the microscopic animals on closer inspection – the natural adversaries of the moth: parasitic wasps.

There are all types of parasitic wasps that parasitize a wide variety of parasites. Representatives of this species mainly hunt food moths. You just put them in the pantry. There they hunt moth eggs and lay their own eggs there. No other butterfly larvae can develop this way. The reproductive cycle is interrupted.

Ichneumon wasps don’t live long but can be very effective in the kitchen during this time. (picture alliance / dpa / blickwinkel / R. Günter)
The tiny parasitic wasps also die off after a while, leaving nothing behind but a little dust. Because the so-called Trichogramma wasps are only 0.3 millimeters high, as Schöller says, “and they cannot get any bigger because these parasitic wasps thrive in the moth ice. This means that “they cannot get any bigger than any of them. Egg. “

Matthias Schöller is the managing director of a company that breeds various parasitic wasps and other beneficial insects in order to sell them as an environmentally friendly alternative to insecticides: “On the one hand, there are no harmful residues in the apartment. On the other hand, parasitic wasps protect food or textiles from re-infestation over a longer period of time. This means: Even if a pest still flies through the window during the control period, these pests are also killed. ”

After a few weeks at the latest, you can get rid of food or clothing moths. And all of this without any chemicals.

How dangerous are caterpillars and moth eggs?

And by the way, you don’t have to be afraid of moths. As long as the contamination of the food is not too strong and starts to mold, the stored parasites are not harmful to health, explains Matthias Schöller:

“That means if you eat such a caterpillar or a moth egg, you won’t get sick. Clothes moths are also not harmful to health. It means we have property damage here. But it can be good. certainly considerable, since objects made from sheep’s wool often have a high monetary value. ”

In most cases, food and clothes moths are primarily just parasites on our nerves and wallets.