MTI Investee EXOSECT: How sexually confusing moths could save your clothes from holes!

1 June 2015

Museum tricks male moths into thinking other males are females in bid to stop them reproducing as it wages gender warfare on cloth-eating insects.

Sexually confusing moths might not seem the obvious solution to protecting your cashmere but it could be the most effective way to prevent insects from destroying clothes. Moths have become increasingly difficult to control since a ban on pesticides which were blamed for the decline of bees. But keepers at the National History Museum in London have come up with an ingenious solution after suffering a four year moth infestation which is threatening the fur and feathers of some of its most prized exhibits. Now they are using a system which tricks male moths into thinking that other male moths are actually females in a bid to stop them mating and producing eggs and larvae. And it does not involve killing any moths, merely confusing males into fruitlessly chasing members of their own sex and overwhelming their senses so they can no longer smell the females.

"It's called the Pheromone Destruction System and in simplistic terms, it makes male moth attracted to other male moths," said Armando Mendex, quarantine facility manager at the museum, who is heading the project. "They only live for a couple of weeks and during that time there is only a small window in which they can reproduce. "If they spend this unknowingly attempting to attract and fertilise male moths, then it reduces the offspring we are up against."

The system works by using a set of traps which a filled with the female moth pheromone.

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Also covered on the BBC's One Show, 2nd June 2015 - watch show