dailymail.co.uk, 24th July 2012

Athletes on the run from moth invasion as thousands descend on Olympic site

Tuesday July 24,2012

By Paul Harris for dailymail.co.uk

They came in the dead of night, attracted by a blaze of light so vast it could be seen from miles away.

To an inquisitive moth, the Olympic village must have looked like paradise - 9,000 brand new wardrobes, each containing enough clothing to see athletes through two weeks of the Games.

Or, to put it another way, a fortnight of prime packed lunches for Tineola bisselliella and its pesky cousin pellionella.

For the Olympic park is at the centre of an area infested with fabric-chomping moths - and Stratford was pinpointed yesterday as one of the worst hit areas in the UK.

Don't even dare to imagine what might happen should they chance to munch on the women's beach volleyball bikinis.

Perish the thought that British athletes will parade proudly in uniforms that invite critics to describe our opening ceremony as moth-eaten.

And forget the fact that so much unpalatable Lycra and man-made 'performance fibres' will deter the larvae of the common clothes moth (bisselliella) or the case-bearing clothes moth (pellionella).

With this many people concentrated into such a small area, there is enough grub here for a plague of biblical proportions.

The revelation that the Olympic stadium's recently assigned E20 postcode is a hot-spot for moth invasion came from anti-moth and homecare company Caraselledirect.

It monitors pest control sales daily to determine which areas are most affected. On a moth map of the UK, Stratford is plotted at the epicentre of what it described as an escalating 'epidemic'.

Figures suggest the problem is 40 times bigger than in Newcastle upon Tyne, for example; nearly 400 times worse than in Belfast; and greater than in the whole of Scotland.

'They show no respect for Savile Row suits, Primark jumpers or athletes' outfits,' said the firms moth expert, Jonathan Beriland.

'Anything they can get their teeth into - jackets, trousers, underpants - will become a casualty.'

London and the south east saw a big increase in moth populations recently because of unseasonal or prolonged spells of cold, wet weather.

That meant homes, offices (and flats in the Olympic village) kept windows closed and heat on - perfect conditions for moths to lay eggs that turn into cloth-eating larvae.

Females can lay 40 eggs in three weeks, producing larvae which may carry on chomping for up to a year before pupating.

No doubt granny would simply have shaken out the clothes and stocked up on pongy mothballs.

By the time athletes notice any adult moths flying out of their wardrobes, however, the seeds of sartorial disaster will already have been sown.

Ironically, the Stratford stadium boats that 'sustainable development' has provided new habitats for a host of species, including the toadflax brocade moth, whose larvae spurn athletics gear in favour of the plant from which it takes its name.

But even recently revamped security measures, plus surface to air missiles, appear to not to have stopped the airborne cloth-destroyers infiltrating.

Olympic officials said yesterday they had 'not been overwhelmed' by complaints about masticated clothing, or by reports of munching sounds from inside athletes' wardrobes (which, it is understood, have no moth protection).

But one did report that an American athlete spent an uncomfortable night swatting moths after leaving his balcony doors open and dozing off with the light on.

Finally, a terrifying thought. Just where did those big holes in the Olympic rings come from?

Link: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2178510/Athletes-run-moth-invasion-thousands-descend-Olympic-site.html


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