There are several species of clothes moths, all of them characterised by folding their wings tent-wise along their backs. The adult Common Clothes Moth is 6 to 7mm long with pale, plain golden-buff wings fringed with hair. The rarer Case-Bearing Clothes Moth, is duller and has three dark brown spots on each of its wings.
The adults do no damage when feeding.
It is the larvae which hatch from the sticky eggs that eat wool, hair, fur or feathers – with a preference for blankets, wool carpets, wool garments or upholstery that have been soiled with perspiration or food. The grubs are white caterpillars with golden-brown heads, which spin a hiding place of characteristic loose silk webbing, beneath which they feed.
They make irregular holes in textile fabrics and pupate as silken cocoons. The Case Bearing Clothes Moth grub produces an open ended cylindrical case of silk as it feeds, and attaches fibres of its food material to this in order to camouflage itself.
These are dark greyish flies about 8mm long with yellowish hairs on the back and with overlapping wings. In autumn they congregate in large numbers in upper rooms or roof spaces of houses to hibernate. A mass of cluster flies has a characteristic smell. They are sluggish in flight and are a nuisance in the house.
The larvae of one species are parasitic upon certain earthworms, so this species is more common in rural areas.
Large blundering insects also known as May-bugs which are attracted to artificial light and fly into houses or collide with windows on warm evenings in May and June.
The adult is 20 to 25mm long with a heavily built brown body and wing cases with the tip of the abdomen bent downwards.
Despite a rather formidable appearance, the May bug is harmless and is only a minor agricultural pest.
Sometimes confused with black beetles from the garden, cockroaches are distinguished by their very long whip-like antennae, flat oval bodies and rapid, jerky gait.
The adult German cockroach is 10 to 15mm long. The Common or Oriental cockroach is 20 to 24mm long. They are rarely able to survive out of doors in the British climate, but thrive around the heating ducts and boiler rooms of large centrally heated buildings e.g. hospitals, bakeries, hotel and restaurant kitchens, laundries and blocks of flats. They cluster around pipes, stoves, and sinks, especially in humid areas.
The German cockroach carries its egg case, a small brown purse-like capsule, until the 30 or more nymphs are ready to hatch from it. The Oriental cockroach deposits its 13mm long egg capsule on packaging, sacking or in suitable dark crevices before the 16 or 18 nymphs hatch out.
Cockroaches grow in stages – from nymphs to maturity in six to 12 months for the Oriental cockroach, but only in as many weeks in the case of the German cockroach.
Both species eat any sort of food and are most active after dark, from their inaccessible harbourages, to forage, contaminating food and food utensils, or food preparation surfaces as they go. They taint food with an obnoxious smell and may be carriers of various diseases, including serious food poisoning.