Thursday, 21 September 2006

Call back your troops, archy!

i shall organize the insects
i shall drill them
i shall lead them
i shall fling a billion
times a billion
times a billion billion
risen insects in an army
at the throats
of all you humans

Thus spake archy the cockroach.

Because of him I have an infestation of moths and no means of eradicating them efficiently.

Don’t tell me to use cedar chips or lavender oil: they make my clothes smell lovely but the moths don’t mind them at all. The only things that used to work were plaquettes Vapona but they were taken off the shelves several years ago. Since then, I’ve been regularly finding moth grubs in several corners of my very small flat. I only wear natural fibres and I fear for my pashmina (who says it’s not fashionable any longer?), and for the other fine wool shawls and beautiful cashmere sweaters I bought in TK Maxx over the last couple of years.

Rather than spending money to develop new and effective anti-moth products, the makers of Vapona et al. have chosen to stop production completely and go on to something else. Maybe they only wear Lycra.

It’s a ridiculous situation: I am an adult; I can be trusted with noxious chemicals; I wouldn’t ingest them or rub my face with them or do whatever it is one shouldn’t do with a Vapona thingy. I’m hoping that it might be possible to buy some more in the future because the World Health Organization now supports the indoor use of DDT to control malaria. The W.H.O. supported indoor spraying with DDT and other insecticides until about 20 years ago. The controversy about its use had been going on since the early 60s, when an environmentalist called Rachel Carson managed to persuade most people that it damaged the environment, although it probably presented no health risk to humans. And DDT was banned. And malaria-carrying mosquitoes flourished. Like my damned moths. I hope people will come to their senses and stop equating a ‘potential’ harmful effect with an ‘actual’ bl**dy nuisance, and allow the use of anti-moths again.

Ok, my moths are not the cause of more than one million deaths every year nor have they infected five hundred million people with malaria, but they are very annoying.

Slapping archy! And indifferent manufacturers!

PS. I'm assuming everyone has read archy's life of mehitabel and its sequel archy & mehitabel by don marquis. You have, haven't you?


  1. We are using those silly pheromone traps. They get the males, but don't do a darn thing about the grubs -- still, over time, I'm hopeful. Because I have no other choice. Good luck to both of us...

  2. I now spend half an hour every morning (well, early afternoon) crawling on the carpet (like the grubs), trying to catch them before they burrow too deep into it. I've just killed about a dozen. It's hopeless. :-(

    I'm not sure we have those pheromone traps here. Only scented stuff.

  3. Julien Brault22/09/2006, 14:00

    Bonjour Bela, j'ai lu sur un forum que vous aviez travaillé pour Harlequin. Si vous pouviez me répondre très rapidement, je serais heureux d'avoir un témoignage de première main chez Harlequin pour mon reportage sur le Ghost Writing. Merci à l'avance.

  4. Bonjour Julien, j'ai effectivement travaillé chez Mills & Boon/Harlequin en 1980-85, mais les bouquins étaient tous écrits par leurs auteurs. Pas de ghost-writers (est-ce qu'on peut, de nos jours, donner la traduction française de ce mot?).

  5. bela, make sure you keep all your sweaters and scarves sealed within individual plastic bags. John Lewis has a pretty good selection of anti-moth stuff and I'm pretty sure you can get regular moth balls still at supermarkets. I also use some sort of herbal thing they sell at John Lewis in yellow packaging (individual sachets) and have never had any trouble.

    There was a quite pitiful article in Vogue a few months ago from the editor who had failed to use any form of anti moth product and was then amazed when her sweaters all got eaten. She let the problem get so bad she had to have her entire house fumigated.

  6. Thanks, GSE, I have a couple of those John Lewis nylon zipped-up bags (I wanted to buy more a little while ago but they only had horrible treated canvas ones - really thick and hard) and I think I use the same kind of herbal thing you use, but somehow moths have decided they quite like it here. BUT their days are counted: I'm doing a great job as a moth-grub sleuth. I only found one earlier today. And getting them at that stage means they won't munch, and they won't reproduce.

    There's no way I would use moth balls. They really stink and remind me of a not so pleasant period of my childhood (when we were still in our huge and gloomy flat cum workshop in Rue des Archives - yes, I know what the area has become now - and of my mother saying to all and sundry, 'She could say "paradichlorobenzene" [the ingredient in moth balls] when she was two years old, you know.' LOL!).

    What I need is a new pussycat. I am convinced that Patsy used to eat the grubs when she saw them wriggling on the carpet. I've never had a problem with moths before.

    I know where the original 'pregnant' moth came from. :-(

  7. Toujours gai ... there's still a dance in the old dame yet.

    Yes, archie and the boss are two of our favorites. Always have been, always will be.


  8. Are you thinking about a new kitty?

  9. Yes, K, those books are wonderful. I discovered them when I first came to this country (back in 1969), as well as Cider with Rosie, stuff like that. Have loved them since.

    Oh, GSE, I'm constantly thinking about kitties - old ones, new ones... (I am actually thinking about sharing my small abode with a new 'fur baby' (love that). LOL!

  10. A little warning then. Initially I found I didn't fall instantly in love with my girls because they were so different from Edgar. Now I adore them but it took a month or two for us all to settle down. Having said that, I'm glad I didn't wait any longer. I don't feel right without a cat or several.

  11. Yes, I'm sure there has to be a period of adjustment. Before Patsy I had another cat who didn't like me and after a while I began to dislike him too, and he was miserable indoors, although he'd never been out. I had to give him away and I'm told he had a happy life from then on. I fell in love with Patsy a few hours after I got her: she climbed on top of my computer and looked down at me with such a cute look on her little face! But she only became affectionate when she became ill (20 months before she died). So, I'm not expecting that much from a new pussycat. Just seeing her curled up on my bed or by the radiator would be lovely. :-)


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