Beware Tineola Bisselliella

My entry-phone buzzed, a mournful, ‘it’s Tim Parr,’ bewailed down the line, then the plod of heavy footsteps, culminating with a groan as he trudged into the Michelsberg showroom.

Partner at the financial services firm RSM in Leeds, and owner of several Michelsberg bespoke suits, I could see pain and anguish, etched all over his usually jolly face.

“Tim, what’s wrong?”

Removing a pair of tweed trousers from his briefcase, he pointed out a ragged hole on the thigh.

“My favourite suit, ruined,” he sighed.

Adamant this wasn’t a snag from a well used dining chair at Sous Les Nez, I inspected further.

“Tim, this looks like the calling card of Tineola Bisselliella.”

Tineola Bisselliella

To you and I, the common clothes moth.

Highly discerning creatures, they have the ability to digest keratin protein in natural fibres such as cotton, linen, silk and wool, shunning synthetic cloth, that no doubt hangs from the rails at lesser tailoring businesses in Leeds.

Further research has led me to discover “they prefer dirty fabric for oviposition…containing human sweat and other organic liquids.” (sic)

It is here I must jump to Tim’s defence.

Smelling just as good as he looks, he is a fine ambassador of the Michelsberg brand, always resplendent in hand-tied silk bow tie and Albert Thurston braces. 

Michelsberg customers don’t ‘sweat,’ they ‘perspire,’ and the only organic liquid on his threads, would be a rogue drop of Chateau Ausone, Saint Emillion red wine.

I’ve had my own run-in with these little buggers, who are clearly connoisseurs when it comes to wardrobe dining.

A delicate chap, the skin on my neck resembles Freddy Krueger’s if it comes into contact with wool, and so, from an early age, my knitwear has always had to be woven from cashmere, darling.

 

I still shudder at the memory of opening the third drawer down on my tall boy dresser, to reveal that my favourite jumper, from N Peal in the Burlington arcade, had been munched on the cuffs. 

Leaving aside good, yet lesser quality garments from John Smedley and Paul Smith, they’d picked the finest and most expensive piece in my armoury.

I suppose it could have been worse – had I darkened the doors of Bruno Cucinelli or Loro Piana, I imagine Moth Royalty would have flow in on private jet (streams) to dine on plates of Mongolian cashmere at a thousand pounds a pop. 

As far as Tim’s troubles go, I was brought up to believe in the maxim, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ and was determined to turn his frown, upside down.

I sourced a swatch of his Donegal tweed from Abraham Moon, tracked down the services of a ‘burler and mender,’ who then worked miracles in patching up Tim’s strides to near perfection, the speckled weave certainly helping matters.   

Whilst for Tim, ‘moth-gate’ had a happy ending, mine ended in disaster, and the same cruel fate is but a munch away from you too, courtesy of the order Lepidoptera.

BE WARNED – it is rutting season for the family Tineidae  – they are out there right now, looking for somewhere to mate and lay their eggs.

My advice to protect your threads against these critters would be to invest in a set of mothballs and give your threads a regular brushing, which not only cleans the fabric, but will help remove eggs and larvae.

Advice on Wikipedia goes further, including, ‘freezing’ and ‘burning’ – something I would only advise if the label says anything other than ‘Michelsberg.’

Here’s wishing you all wonderful start to the Summer months!