24 April 2017

Operation Clothes Moth - English Heritage needs YOU!

Calling all UK-dwelling lovers of historical textiles!
You are needed to participate in English Heritage's Operation Clothes Moth!

As any lover of textiles knows, clothes moths are a real pest. What you might not have known is that numbers of clothes moths are rising. Whilst this might be annoying for you, it's potentially catastrophic for museums and historic buildings, where several hundred years of clothing and furnishings can easily be destroyed within months.

So, how can you help?

This summer, English Heritage are running Operation Clothes Moth, a massive citizen science survey to monitor the numbers of clothes moths in your house or flat. If you live in England, all you need to do is visit one of their manned sites shown on the map here and ask for a free moth trap. If you live elsewhere in the UK, they may post you one. I had one posted to me (for free!) after the English Heritage site I'd visited had run out of traps - all I had to do was phone them.

If you live outside of the UK, I don't think you can participate. However, you can still help by spreading the word, either online or in person.

Once you get a trap, it's very easy to set up. Just follow the directions on the back - write the date on the front of your trap then peel off the backing material and fold it into shape. The sticky material is non-toxic - it works by containing a glue impregnated with the sex pheromone of female webbing clothes moths, thus attracting the males.

You can put your trap in a living room or bedroom - just pop it on a fireplace surround, on a shelf or on top of a wardrobe. Mine is residing on top of my wardrobe.

(And why, yes, it's totally normal to keep gambesons on top of your wardrobe, right...?)

Once you've done that, all you need to do is leave the trap alone for at least one month, but ideally three. You kick back and relax, knowing that not only are you helping with research to preserve historic textiles, but also you're reducing the likelihood of your personal stash of woolens getting nommed!

Once the time is up, take it down and report on your findings by filling in this form on the English Heritage website. Easy!

Let me know if you end up taking part in Operation Clothes Moth! :)

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