By Niko Nowak

Once the moths get comfortable in the closet, things can go very badly for woolen clothes. (picture alliance / dpa / blickwinke l / McPHOTO / AA Schauhuber)

Colorful butterflies are a real splendor, moths, on the other hand, lead a dark existence. And sometimes moths annoy people. But are they also dangerous?

In 1961, a new movie monster appeared on the Japanese cinema screen. Mothra. A gigantic and indestructible moth. “Mothra. Indestructible. Almighty. Indescribable.” – this is how it is described in the movie trailer.

In the movie “Mothra Threatening the World”, the giant butterfly arrives in Tokyo and pupates.

The army fired an atomic ray cannon at the cocoon, but all attempts to kill the beast failed. And even then, one wonders rightly, “What kind of creature is this monster god Mothra?” – or in other words – “What herb can be used against moths?”

Yesterday as today, in the film as in reality: moths infest us humans. But what’s the best way to deal with troublemakers? How do moths get into our pantries and cupboards in the first place? And should we be afraid of it?

Chemistry or prolonged fighting?

Guido Trojan is a true moth professional. It’s a pest control and it was called out by an IT company that has been struggling with clothing moths for the past few weeks. Dozens – perhaps hundreds of light brown, shimmering butterflies frolic on the natural animal fibers of the flokatis. Trojan’s operational strategy is quickly determined: “It appears to be a more serious infestation. Unfortunately, I have to resort to chemicals.

Trojan sets up a spray device, puts on a respirator, and sprays the insecticide directly onto the woolen carpet. Its use is finished after just a few minutes. The room in which the rug is located should now be well ventilated. Because the substances are harmful to health.

If you don’t want it, you have to rely on long moth control. It is important to vacuum regularly – also under furniture and the legs of chairs and tables. And oils can help: in addition to lavender, neem oil. Its ingredient azadirachtin is involved in the hormonal metabolism of the moth – and prevents it from multiplying. However, it takes time. The customer doesn’t have that. She still asks, however, what could have caused the moth infestation.

“There are woolen rugs and the clothes moths are flying right through the window. And I also saw three dogs here in the office. Of course they also have really thick hair and all that comes from there. ‘animal – hair – of course also interesting for clothing moths, “Trojan replies.

Clothing moths enter the home or office through the window, among others. They ignore cotton and synthetic fabrics. They prefer textiles of animal origin and lay their eggs. The larvae, which can grow to an inch in size, then feed their fill of cashmere sweaters, fur, woolen rugs – or the hairs of office dogs.

Freeze endangered foods or in screw jars

Food moths take a different path from us, explains the Berlin exterminator: “The customer carries these food moths from the supermarket to their homes, then stores the products in the cupboards. For a few weeks, the product is forgotten or it just lies there. and then at some point you open the door and then the dried fruit moths – this is the most common food moth species – come flying towards you. And there, of course, the alarm goes off .

Getting rid of food mites can take weeks. (picture alliance / dpa / blickwinkel / F. Hecker)
A female moth lays up to 300 eggs, from which new butterflies hatch in a short time. Horrible. Fast enough. Contaminated food should be discarded immediately. All other endangered products – such as grains, spices or nuts – must first be frozen, then transferred to screw jars and hermetically sealed. Plastic packaging is no obstacle for the tiny moth larvae.

Hopefully this will prevent a new generation of butterflies from growing. Usually it takes around four to ten weeks. At least that long, you should monitor the infestation with the help of special scent traps. And – equally important – finishing the cabinets with the hair dryer. Because moth eggs cannot tolerate heat.

Ichneumon wasps are natural enemies

If you can’t get rid of small animals like this, you can either enlist the help of a professional – moth hunters like Guido Trojan and then fight the pests with an insecticide – or you can bring even more bugs into. the House.

“If you look here, focus, you’ll see these little black dots here,” says qualified biologist Matthias Schöller, while pointing to a seemingly empty plastic bag. Only by looking more closely can one see the microscopic animals – the moth’s natural adversaries: parasitic wasps.

There are all kinds of parasitic wasps that parasitize a wide variety of parasites. Representatives of this species mainly hunt food moths. You just put them in the pantry. There, they hunt down moth eggs and lay their own eggs there. This way no other butterfly larvae can develop. The reproductive cycle is interrupted.

Ichneumon wasps do not live long but can be very effective in the kitchen during this time. (picture alliance / dpa / blickwinkel / R. Guenter)
The tiny parasitic wasps also die off after a while, leaving nothing behind but a little dust. Because the so-called Trichogramma wasps are only 0.3 millimeters high, as Schöller puts it, “and they cannot grow larger, because these parasitic wasps thrive inside the moth ice. This means that ‘they can’t get bigger like either of them. Egg. “

Matthias Schöller is the managing director of a company that breeds various parasitic wasps and other beneficial insects in order to sell them as an environmentally friendly alternative to insecticides: “On the one hand, there are no harmful residues in the apartment. On the other hand, parasitic wasps over a longer period Protect food or textiles from a new infestation. This means: Even if a pest still flies through the window during the control period, those pests will also be killed. ”

After a few weeks at the latest, you can get rid of food or clothing moths. And all without chemicals.

How dangerous are caterpillars and moth eggs?

And by the way, you don’t have to be afraid of moths. As long as the contamination of the food is not too strong and begins to mold, the stored parasites are not harmful to human health, explains Matthias Schöller:

“This means that if you eat such a caterpillar or a moth egg, you do not get sick. Clothing moths are also not harmful to your health. It means we have property damage here. But it may well. sure to be considerable, as objects made from sheep’s wool often have a high monetary value. ”

In most cases, food and clothing moths are primarily just parasites on our nerves and wallet.