Gerry Farrell: Nature red in tooth and claw is the hole story for our clothes

Moths don't eat your clothes - their babies are the toothy villains
Moths don't eat your clothes - their babies are the toothy villains
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Sunday night is Planet Earth Night and this week, national treasure Sir David Attenborough took us on a wee tour round the world’s jungles. Well, not him personally. He doesn’t hack his way through vegetation in sweaty khaki any more. But we still get close up and personal with some very strange creatures. Rolling across the Peruvian jungle floor, its head glowing red, its sides lit up with green panels like train windows, comes the railroad worm. It’s searching for millipedes. When it senses one, it switches off its green lights. Only its red head stays aglow. But millipedes have limited vision. They can’t see red. So chomp, chomp. Off with their heads.

That’s the thing about nature. It’s red in tooth and claw. It’s outdoors for a reason. We don’t want it coming indoors, oh no. Keep it at bay. Especially if you have cashmere pashminas or silk knickers. What am I on about? House moths, that’s what. My wife can kill them in a mid-flight with one clap of her hands. She has the reflexes of a cat. But by the time she’s sent them to Moth Paradise, the damage is already done. You see, house moths don’t eat your clothes. Their babies are the toothy villains.

Andy Murray celebrates winning a game during the match against Novak Djokovic. Picture: AFP/Glyn Kirk

Andy Murray celebrates winning a game during the match against Novak Djokovic. Picture: AFP/Glyn Kirk

Mrs Tineola Biselliella, the female house moth, lays around 40 eggs over a three week period. Then she curls up and dies naturally – unless Zsuzsa gets her first.

It takes just a few days for her eggs to hatch out. Then her fat white grubs are on the loose, sniffing out your favourite clothes and munching holes in them. They have exquisite taste. Your Primark stuff is safe. They only eat natural fibres. So it’s your Nicole Farhi, Max Mara and Vivienne Westwood they’re after.

What can you do to get rid of the wee buggers? Try burning your house down, it might be the easiest way. Moth larvae are notoriously difficult to eradicate. They can survive temperatures as high as 50C and as low as -8. In the old days, they used to die off in winter. But now we are cocooned in 24/7 centrally-heated homes and we are paying the price in holey clothes. The most drastic solution is to fumigate all your rooms. That will cost you £150 a room and you’ll have to move out for a few days. Even then, the poisons may linger in your home and could endanger your children’s health. It’s not necessarily a permanent solution either. Few pest control companies will guarantee your post-fumigation home moth-free for more than a year.

If you don’t have the kind of money needed to bring in the professional beastie-bashers, lavender bags are your best bet but you’ll have to keep refreshing the lavender as it loses its potency over time.

Mothballs work too, up to a point, but they make your clothes stink. Putting your best stuff into plastic bags then putting them in the freezer for a week will kill off the larvae. The thing to do then is shake out the clothes and put them back into plastic to hang in your wardrobe.

The most cunning solution of all is the pheromone trap; this coats the male moth with a powder that makes him appear female to the female moths. This condemns him to a life without sex. On the upside, it stops all the moths from breeding and the colony dies. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind to your clothes.

Murray had hunger that’s driven him to be the best from age 14

I was scrolling idly down my Facebook timeline when a headline stopped me: “BBC Reporting Scotland archive interview with Andy Murray aged 14”.

The clip brought a wee glisten to my eye. There was this scrawny teenager, on a cheap, outdoor red clay court covered in puddles, whacking 120mph balls unerringly into the corner of the service area. Meanwhile, the voiceover was suggesting he might just have a future in the game. Finally, the young Murray himself was interviewed about his ambition. “Well I’d like to think I could get to Junior Wimbledon in two years and Senior Wimbledon in another two years.”

He had that same squint into the sun, same expressionless face, same monotonous voice. And that’s what I love about the guy. Absolutely no airs and graces. No monogrammed tennis blazers. Just a fierce ambition to be the best, burned into his heart from five years old.

And there he was, on Sunday afternoon, 15 years later, wiping the floor with his nemesis, Novak Djokovic, barely rested after a gruelling three-hour semi-final. The undisputed No 1 tennis player in the world. Imperious and devastating on court. Gracious and humble on mike. The Scottish football team may be sliding down the world rankings, but right now we are the best in the world at tennis. You know where you can shove your chariots, Twickers.

Cool customer

Meet the Alaskan wood frog. It is, quite literally, one of the coolest animals on the planet. Because when the weather freezes, this frog does too. It stops breathing. Its heart stops pumping. And its blood ceases to circulate. It’s a deep-frozen frog.

In case you’re wondering how, the short version is that it makes its own anti-freeze. It can stay frozen solid for up to three weeks until there’s a thaw. Magically, when the temperature rises, it takes a gulp of air, kicks its legs and hops off to find a mate. Unlike me.

As soon as winter bites here, I’m into my thermals and under the duvet. I can’t afford to hibernate for three weeks. But I would if I could.

Let’s skip Christmas. Wake me up when it’s spring again.