Protecting Our Heritage Buildings with New Technology




We are all familiar with the risk that textile pests present to our heritage properties.

Recent newspaper headlines have told us, with the subtlety for which they are renowned, that Great Britain is currently suffering under a “plague,” of “crisis levels,” and “alarmingly high” numbers of clothes moths.

Destroying our Historical Artefacts – one bite at a time

Clothes moths pose a significant threat to heritage buildings, often wreaking havoc on precious textiles and artefacts. These small, seemingly innocuous insects belong to the Tineidae family. The two main species causing the most damage are the webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella). Despite their diminutive size, their impact can be monumental, especially in environments where valuable textiles are stored or displayed.
One of the main reasons clothes moths thrive in heritage buildings is the favourable environment they provide. These structures often have old, poorly insulated walls and attics, creating warm, humid conditions ideal for moth larvae development. The abundance of organic  materials such as wool, fur, feathers, and silk commonly found in historic textiles and structures serves as a feast for these pests. Extensive textile collections, including antique garments, tapestries and upholstery, make heritage buildings prime targets for clothes moths.

The damage inflicted by clothes moths can be devastating, heartbreaking and irreversible. Moth larvae voraciously feed on natural fibres, leaving behind unsightly holes and weakened fabrics. In some cases, especially during the covid lockdowns, entire collections have been affected, resulting in significant financial and cultural losses. The presence of moth damage can compromise the integrity and aesthetic appeal of much-loved heritage textiles, detracting from their historical significance.

Labour and Capital Intensive Traditional Solutions
Traditionally, mitigating the threat of clothes moths in heritage buildings requires a multifaceted approach. Regular monitoring and inspection of textile collections are essential for early detection and intervention. Implementing proper storage techniques, such as using sealed containers and periodically airing out textiles, can help deter moth infestations. Maintaining stable environmental conditions, including temperature and humidity levels, can create less hospitable conditions for the moths.

But what if there is a better answer to this problem that results in zero pests?

A New Solution that started in our Mills
The flour milling industry has long been on the front line of the war with moth pests. You can tell because of the sheer number of moths that have been named after milling. For example, the Indian Meal Moth, which is  partial to corn flour, the Mediterranean Mill Moth, and the Flour Moth.  

In 2019, Dealey Environmental was the first UK pest  control company to trial a new product called Bluefume. According to the technical data, Bluefume could spread through a flour mill and completely eradicate all pests inside. We used it. We loved it. And the moths hate it.   It has been a great success.

How Bluefume Eradicates Pests
The gas works by interrupting the mitochondria of the target pests, completely shutting them down, and killing the pest off. Working at the cellular level it is tremendously effective.  As it is a gas, when you want it to disappear, it is very easy to move. With our extremely expensive gas measurement instruments, we can marvel at the gas dispersing in real-time until a mill is safe to re-enter. A mill fumigation takes 48 hours- 24 hours to gas and 24 hours to clear. The process is entirely non-residual, unlike your traditional insecticides, and is safe to use on buildings that handle food.

A Solution for All Environments and Insect Pests
A few years into our love affair with Bluefume, I heard of some of our friends in Europe beginning to test it on  structures that weren’t mills. Among the expected hotels, ships and aeroplanes there were some unexpected applications including a church in Czechia and a Castillo in Spain.

When I dug deeper, I was told the church was being treated for woodworm and the castle was being treated for clothes moths. That’s when I had a lightbulb pop on and thought, “Well, those are the two species of bug making a mess in our heritage properties!”

Effective Solution to Protect Our Heritage Buildings
We are looking for a conservation officer, custodian or curator who needs a moth or beetle solution.

If you are tired of prolonged monitoring, insecticide applications or biological controls on a repetitive cycle, then we can help.

We can promise you pest numbers will reach absolute zero.

If a custodian is out there who is looking for an ultra-modern and effective solution for pest problems with great ecological credentials, we are waiting to hear from you.

Martin Cobbald
Dealey Environmental Ltd.


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