Want to scare away moths? Call Prezza!

Daily Mail - - Front Page - www.dai­ly­mail.co.uk/craig­brown Craig Brown

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.

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