Saturday, September 27, 2008

the great moth invasion of 2008

I grew up in a home that was extra-vigilant about many things. One of those things was moths. I just took it for granted that everyone stored their woolens in cedar chests, had mothballs in their closets, and transferred their out-of-season clothing to closed bins or bags with (of course) some mothballs or moth packets inside. My ex-wife's family did the same thing, even taking things one step further: when my ex-mother-in-law and her late husband were building their home, she insisted that every closet be lined with cedar.

Perhaps it's just a West Virginia thing: in Nashville, people in general don't seem as concerned with these winged cloth-eaters, and my wife, who has Nashville roots but grew up mostly in Champaign, Illinois, says that she never remembers her family taking any precautions against moths. And in 2007, she and I didn't have any problems here in the current abode.

But 2008, oh, it's been a different story. My mom and grandmother certainly raised me with a surfeit of caution, but this may have been something that they were spot-on about.

In the spring, weird, small, dark cocoons appeared on the ceiling. Mandy and I dubbed them "the wiggles" because you'd notice them furiously gyrating, doing a veritable twist in order to traverse the ceiling and walls. We did housewide removal of them a couple of times, but we admittedly didn't always stay ahead of them, because pressing issues - not petty everyday things, but huge life stuff like health emergencies, job instability, and me moving from my apartment to here with Mandy - consumed our spring.

Now we have a full-blown moth infestation. We see many of them flying around each day. The fact that the closets in the house (clearly added during a 2006 retrofit) are all completely open doesn't help matters. We've put cedar chips in the drawers, and we've hung cedar blocks and, out of desperation, smelly naphthalene moth cakes in the closets. If there was surveillance footage of us in our home - and given the way the Constitution has been shredded since 2001, there might well be - it'd look like we were tripping on acid, engaged in some sort of spastic dance with flying phantoms, given the number of times we spring up from the couch and slap our hands together in mostly-vain attempts to swat moths on the wing.

The most visibly effective thing we've done was Mandy's idea: we put flystrips up. It's not aesthetically pleasing in any way, but there is a lot of visceral satisfaction in seeing the moth corpses collect on them.

Nevertheless, despite everything we've done so far, the moths continue to materialize on a daily basis. I'm sure our wardrobe is suffering, though we've only found only a couple of chomped-up garments so far, and the moth onslaught of 2008 shows no signs of abating.

We're not sure how to reclaim our house and protect our clothing, and what we've found on the Interwebs isn't of much help. So if you have any suggestions - short of signing the lease over to the moths and moving into my ex-mother-in-law's cedar fortress - please let us know.


Flasshe said...

The solution is simple: Move to Colorado! We don't have insects here. Well, we do have miller moths in the summer, but they haven't been very prominent in years. And we've certainly never had them in clothes-eating numbers. I can't even tell you what a mothball looks/smells like.

I hope you can get things under control!

Miles said...

That lack of insects must be a western thing. Mandy tells me that when her ex-boyfriend visited Seattle some years ago, the folks he was staying with didn't know what fireflies were. I mean, they not only didn't know the terms "fireflies" or "lightning bugs," they had never seen one and couldn't wrap their brains around the concept of a glowy-ended bug.

Oh, and Mandy has asked me to explain that we're not overrun with insects in our home or anything. No ants, no cockroaches, no termites, and it's not like the air is teeming with moth swarms. Just wanted to get that straight. Now it's off to watch the Amazing Race!

guthrie said...

Ah, the amazing web! I got up this morning and found more of these little moth/miller looking creatures flying around my house. Sitting on walls, on the couch and basically all over. Not massive or anything, just nagging to see them pop up at various places. At first I thought it was my bachelor style house cleaning methods ~ but then I thought maybe there is something going on out there that others are experiencing. So, now I know I'm not alone.. but still no solution! Starting to give them names... here in Oklahoma City :)