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At the moment, clapping is banned in the house of Lords, but it can’t be long before it becomes compulsory. how else to get rid of their plague of moths?
In recent months, their Lordships have been subject to a moth invasion on an unprecedented scale. the chamber of the house of Lords has become the go-to destination for the moth-about-town.
Not only does the gourmand moth have the old stand-by of the large red speaker’s seat, the Woolsack, but the sight of all those plump new peers parading around in their delicious robes is too much for him to bear. heaven knows whether moths have lips but, if they do, they must surely start smacking them the moment the latest honours List is announced.
Last week, a special mothcontrol bulletin was handed out in the house of Lords alerting peers to the installation of special moth traps. these operate like fly- paper, with a piece of flat sticky cardboard sprayed with a female moth pheromone.
Keen for a bit of moth-on-moth action, the male moth makes a bee-line for the sticky cardboard and realises too late that it has been lured in to a cunning trap. the more it wriggles, the more it sticks.
eventually, it passes away, leaving the poor female moth in another corner of the room with no one left to impregnate her.
I’ve had these sticky traps dotted around my house for some time, and I’m delighted to report that they are now so full of moths that I’ve ordered some more. But I now realise it’s only a temporary victory: it turns out the real damage comes not from the fluttering moths but from the larvae, which look like little pieces of inanimate fluff, but eat like horses.
It first dawned on me that we were sharing our home with several thousand families of moths when holes the size of ping-pong balls began to appear in my jerseys.
Luckily, I have always been scruffy, so at first it didn’t particularly bother me. But moths are revoltingly greedy, chomping away morning, noon and night, and the holes soon spread.
Before long, most of my jerseys were more hole than jersey, and anyone spotting me in the street must have taken me for the victim of a drive-by shooting from a peculiarly energetic mafia hit-squad.
And it isn’t only my jerseys: virtually all my socks now have peek-a-boo toes, and even my dirty green duffel coat is riddled with holes. there is no telling what a moth will find tasty. It’s hard to imagine a human taking a knife and fork to a dirty green duffel coat but, for the moth population of east Anglia, it provides the eat-all-you-can buffet to die for.
As Members of the house of Lords will soon come to realise, it’s never easy to catch a moth. their flight-paths are wholly unpredictable, and they refuse to adhere to an aerial highway code, making haphazard turns to the right or left without bothering to signal in advance.
I know this because I have spent many a day chasing them, clapping my hands like a madman, then cursing as I watch them smugly flitter-fluttering away, determined to make me feel stupid.
t though they are no not bright enough to find something more useful to do with their time, theyh possess the so sort of innate in intelligence that h helps them evade p predators.
In one of his b books, the late Roger Deakin explained that s some moths are able to hear the radar squeak of a bat, instantly closing their wings mid-flight and dropping to the ground l like stones. What is to be done? In the late Fifties, Chairman Mao initiated a campaign to rid China of sparrows which were destroying crops by eating seeds.
the entire population of China was ordered to stand outside banging sticks and pans, in the hope that, after a great many hours, these sparrows would drop to the ground exhausted, at which point they could be beaten to death.
ThIs was a singularly batty scheme, but it seemed to work. however, reducing the sparrow population had the unintended consequence of increasing the population of locusts. this meant that Mao was obliged to go cap-inhand to the soviets asking for 200,000 replacement sparrows.
But the house of Lords is free from locusts, and, anyway, moths only like eating fabrics. so might the house of Lords Management Board take a leaf from Chairman Mao’s book?
I can think of one man who is ideal for the task. Lord Prescott has time on his hands and plenty of get-up-and-go: might he be persuaded to stand on the Woolsack when the house is not sitting and bang a pan with a stick for hours on end?
It is a task well- suited to his talents, which might otherwise be wasted in jamming up the airwaves with his calls for party unity.