Moth warning to Cambridge University students

Moth on a light bulb Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A moth fluttering around a light bulb does not need to be reported to housekeeping, an email told students

University students have been warned to look out for "unusual moth activity" amid concerns about an "infestation" of the flying creatures.

The move by housekeeping staff at Downing College has been dubbed "mothwatch" by students in Cambridge.

An email warned of "a small number of moth-related issues" and said "infestations are persistent".

However, the email added the "classic large moth circling a light bulb is not reportable in this case".

Students were told their "vigilance" would be "appreciated".

The email, posted on a Facebook group elicited dozens of comments and "angry moth" memes.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption A coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the common clothes moth shows its large compound red eyes

A number of people related stories of moths destroying their families' carpets and clothing.

'Mothwatch trauma stories'

One wrote: "I'm literally about to put anti-moth hangers in my wardrobe and I suggest everyone at Downing does the same."

Another said: "I'm not even in Cambridge and I think I'm having a panic attack."

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The larvae of the common clothes moth (tineola bisselliella) feed on natural fibres and material

Another moth-phobic student added: "I don't report to college. I deal with my problems on my own while screaming maniacally."

An enterprising one suggested people sell their "mothwatch trauma stories" to the student newspaper.

Image caption The email was sent to students at Downing College - part of the University of Cambridge

Dorset-based charity Butterfly Conservation said: "The UK's moths are in trouble with many once-common species struggling in the face of habitat loss and climate change".

It added that moths were often "misunderstood", but "they play an important role in pollination... are key parts of the food chain... and can often beat butterflies in the beauty stakes."

Cambridge University did not wish to comment on "mothwatch".

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