Express.co.uk, 24th July 2012
MOTH INFESTATION AND POISONOUS CATERPILLARS SET TO RAVAGE OLYMPIC ATHLETES
Tuesday July 24,2012
By Charlotte Meredith for express.co.uk
THE drama surrounding the Olympics took a bizarre turn today, as it emerged that the Olympic stadium is not only in the middle of an area infested with moths, but also poisonous caterpillars which cause vomiting and dizziness.
Stratford has been pinpointed as one of the worst areas in the UK for the fabric chomping insects which could infiltrate the inside of the Olympic village, whilst outside, oak processionary moths covered in 63,000 toxic hairs are rapidly spreading around East London trees.
Millions of athletes could be affected by the clothes moth pandemic, according to moth expert Graham Warren, who said it was vital for those in the area to be "extremely vigilant" of the nibbling nasties.
"Look out for the white, rice-like, larvae as they are what cause the damage to clothes," he advised, saying: "people have so many clothes nowadays that the damage can be done undisturbed as clothes are left unworn."
Moth expert Jonathan Berliand added: "Even surface to air missiles will not be able to combat this powerful airborne menace."
The infestation in Stratford has grown rapidly over the past week – rising from Average to Bad in a matter of days, according to the anti-moth company, Caraselledirect.
The news means that some of the world's top athletes could be taking home moth larvae as well as gold medals after the Games have ended.
The areas surrounding Stratford are rated as moderate, according to a map produced by the moth-combatting company, which is updated daily to predict the frequency and location of attacks.
The epidemic of the insects is the result of lax anti-moth precautions combined with the cold wet weather forcing people to keep the central heating going and the windows closed.
Mr Berliand said households have taken their eyes off the moth ball: "An older generation has lost the art of defeating these ravenous predators – thanks to growing up with clothes made from moth-resistant artificial fabrics."
He said that because of cheap imports, many of today's clothes now use natural fibres such as cotton and wool once again meaning that wardrobes have been left undefended and the moths are "having a field day.
"Moths show no respect for Saville Row Suits, Primark jumpers or athletes' outfits," he added, "anything they can get their teeth into will become a casualty."
In a separate infestation, spectators could be made miserable by the larval form of the oak processionary moth, who's airbourne hairs can trigger asthma attacks, painful skin and throat rashes, running eyes, vomiting and dizziness.
More than 700 nests have been destroyed in the East London area by local authorities, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Forestry Commission, who teamed up to try and combat the problem.
However, it is now clear that enough of the pests survived to pose a big threat to the London 2012 Games.
Worried about moths? Check your area for an infestation here.