Thursday 5 May 2016

Scientists create artificial pheromone to stop moths ruining clothes

Artificially-created scent sexually confuses female moths, subsequently stopping them breeding and laying fabric damaging eggs in clothes

Press Association
Wednesday 13 April 2016 23.58 BST
Last modified on Thursday 14 April 201601.02 BST

Scientists have found a way to force moths out of the wardrobe: by making them sexually confused.

The trick is to lure male moths and cover them in a pheromone “perfume”. The scent delivers a message that says: “I am female”. When female moths get a whiff of the pheromone they lose interest in breeding.

As a result they fail to lay eggs which would under normal circumstances hatch out into hungry larvae that munch on fabrics.

In scientific trials, the treatment – Moth Population Control Assist – disrupted the life cycle of clothes moths enough to reduce their populations by 90%. David Cross, from Rentokil pest control, which conducted the research, said: “[We can] naturally and humanely curtail moth populations without the use of potentially harmful chemicals.

“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.”

The treatment uses an artificially created scent both to attract and then confuse the male moths.

New figures released by Rentokil have confirmed that the mild, wet winter has improved conditions for clothes moths and increased infestations in the UK.

Inquiries to the pest control specialists about moths from members of the public received between December 2015 and March 2016 increased by 20% compared with the same period the previous year.

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