A Fishy Situation


Photo credit:  BJ. Schoenmakers

by Jason Johnson

Now that spring is here, I have finally packed away all my winter garb and released my favorite spring and summer clothing from the dungeon that is my wardrobe. I released them only to find that my rapidly expanding waistline (winter makes me sad, I eat when I’m sad…It’s a vicious cycle really) was not the only enemy my spring/summer wardrobe had to contend with this year. I am referring of course to fish moths.

After attempting to force my now 5kg heavier body into the summer clothing I bought at pre-winter clearance sales, I started seeing small holes in the fabric. At first I thought they may just be manufacturing flaws until I took my favorite T-shirt out from storage; only to find that this particular shirt had been chewed beyond the point of recognition.

There were definitely no holes in there when I stored it away a few months ago. What’s worse, it was the only t-shirt that still fitted me. Unfortunately, the t-shirt succumbed to its wounds (sob) and had to be thrown away.

After I held a small memorial service for my t-shirt, I decided to do an inspection and what I found was not pretty. These fish moths – or silverfish as they are commonly known must have been feasting on my clothing for months. It seems like either these creatures that live in cracks and crevices have expensive taste, or they are just very spiteful.

Every item of clothing they gnawed through was either a brand name or somewhat on the pricey side. But, the hideous t-shirt I have received as a gift from a good friend – which has our faces printed on it while we are sitting on Santa’s lap – was still intact. They didn’t even touch my gym clothing. I think they may be sending me a message. Well played fish moths… well played.

Now, I have done many things in my lifetime that have warranted vicious attacks from pigeons, rodents and even the odd ant, but I’m almost certain that I have never had a run-in with a fish moth.

So after I came to the conclusion that all pests have signed an agreement to ruin me, I decided to do to these little monsters exactly what I did to the others who came before them. They asked for it… I took out my smartphone and I did research and when I do research, someone’s stay in my home is about to end. We could have forged a really good symbiotic relationship by which they eat through all the sweaters and dungarees I received as gifts so that I don’t ever have to wear them again, but no, they had to go after the good stuff. The ones that still had their tags attached.

Whilst doing research, I found some cool tips on how to get rid of fish moths (silverfish) and how to keep your clothing intact whilst in storage:

The first tip is to create a make shift silverfish trap using tape, flour and a glass. Wrap the outside of the glass with tape and fill it with flour. The tape will create enough traction so that the fish moth can climb in but once its inside, it won’t be able to climb back out because the glass is too smooth.

Always wash clothing before storing it away for long periods of time. Fish moths are attracted to the smell of perfumes and deodorants, so packing away clothing that has not been properly cleaned could result in an infestation.

Wrap clothing in nylon netting before storing it. Fish moths’ diets consist largely of protein and because nylon does not contain any protein, they won’t bother with it.

Cedar and lavender are great natural deterrents of Fish moths. They give off gasses that are unpleasant and poisonous to fish moth. Cut up old stockings and fill them with a combination of the two and hang them in your wardrobe. This should drive the fish moths out. Dried lemon peels, mint and rosemary are quite effective as well.

A very unorthodox method of getting rid of fish moths is actually to freeze your clothing. Silverfish and their eggs are not able to withstand the cold temperature so they eventually die. I could finally get revenge for my t-shirt they so viciously mauled.

Lastly, like most pests, fish moths are attracted to dark, moist places, so regularly air your wardrobe and check for any leaks that may be adding to moisture. A good tip for curbing moisture in spaces like wardrobes is to fill a pillowcase with salt and hang that in your wardrobe. Cat litter is also very effective. You should be able get this at any good pet store.

See more tips on how to get rid of fish moths>

Well, now that I have all this information, let me put it to good use. If these things stage an uprising against me and try to exterminate me like so many pests have before them, I will just have to call good old Rentokil. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll just lead with a call to Rentokil. I don’t have time to do any DIY pest control to wipe out these crawling insects. I need to go shopping… or to the gym. I’ll flip a coin and decide.


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  1. Amanda Smit

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