Higher-quality clothes could be leading to rise in moth infestations - Rentokil

Consumer trends towards buying higher-quality clothes and washing at 30C could be contributing to a rise in clothes moth infestations, a pest firm has suggested.

Rentokil said callouts to moth infestations had increased by more than 110% from April to May and by 60% over the last four years.

A survey by the company found that 52% of people buy fewer items of clothing than they did five years ago, and 59% prefer to buy good-quality clothes in the hope they will last longer.

However, Rentokil said higher-quality clothes were often made with natural materials such as wool and silk which contain a protein called keratin, the preferred food for moth larvae.

The poll also found 54% of people are more likely to wash their clothes at 30C now than they were five years ago, but Rentokil said 55C was the temperature required to kill moth larvae.

It found 13% of respondents have had a moth problem, suggesting that more than 6.8 million Britons have experienced damage due to larvae feeding on their clothes.

David Cross, from Rentokil, said: "May's unseasonably warm temperatures and the early start to summer has helped to create the perfect conditions for moths to breed and potentially thrive in British households.

"With a prolonged breeding season, clothes and soft furnishings in British homes could be at increased risk to damage caused by moth larvae feeding on the natural fibres they contain.

"Washing clothes at high temperatures or having them dry cleaned are practical methods to help remove moth larvae from clothing."

Earlier this year English Heritage released the results of a survey launched after experts saw the numbers of common or webbing clothes moths double, and observed the appearance of the pale-backed clothes moth.

The survey, which saw thousands of traps handed out at English Heritage sites and received data from 42 counties, discovered an "alarmingly high" number of the new species, the pale-backed clothes moth.

It also revealed that the reported catch of the common clothes moth was significantly higher in London and the South East, where an average 23 moths were found per trap, than anywhere else in England.

The top tips for preventing clothes moth infestations include checking for moths in the creases, folds and behind labels of clothing, keeping items in vacuum bags, and taking out items from the wardrobe and giving them a good shake at least once a month to disturb the moths.