The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Grow feverfew – great as a moth repellent!

Feverfew flowers

Fresh feverfew flowers in our garden

Our garden grows feverfew like a weed. I rather like the small daisy like flowers. I used to keep just a few plants dotted around the garden but now I cherish them and harvest armfuls of plants in July. The flowers are a good remedy for treating headaches but when I was researching potpourri I discovered they are an extremely good moth repellent.

Clearly moths don’t suffer from headaches as they steer clear.

Moths can be a problem at the cottage. Not the beautiful specimens that fly through the open windows at night. Rather the clothes moths. We discovered this summer that they have been eating our wool carpets too. Even Danny, who hates to kill any living thing, has undertaken special training to recognise a clothes moth and kill it on sight.

Drying feverfew is easy. Just harvest the plants, roots and all and hang them upside down somewhere airy and dry. A shed that doesn’t suffer from condensation would be perfect – a greenhouse or polytunnel would be too damp. You could of course move them into the house and hang them there. But make sure that it’s somewhere where there is plenty of air moving around.

Within a few weeks the flowers will have dried can be harvested and stored in an airtight environment such as a zip lock bag. Test them first to see if they crumble easily into feverfew dust – any moisture left in the flowers will go mouldy if you harvest them too soon.

If you haven’t the time to make bags, fill the centre of a pretty handkerchief with the dried flowers, pull up the four corners and knot them. Add a ribbon and you have a perfect small present for someone or yourself. Just put this handkerchief twist wherever clothes moths are a problem.

If you like you can mix other natural moth repellents with feverfew. In fact there are lots of natural moth repellents that you might grow in your garden or regularly throw away. Dried lemon and orange skins, for example. It would be worth drying and saving these to make into little sweet smelling anti moth bags for Christmas gifts. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, mint and thyme and cedar wood all send moths into reverse. Make sure that you harvest these herbs on a hot day (when the oils are at their fullest) and dry bunches of the herbs these before the summer is over and you will be able to make moth proof bags for very little cost.

Of course you can just strew a handful or two straight onto the floor of your wardrobe/closet, airing cupboard or under your sofa. Clothes moths love low light so check all areas with these conditions regularly.

Home prepared moth repellents lose their intensity over time. Replace them every year and keep your eyes peeled for any areas that might have been overlooked.

It’s not the adult moths that do the damage. Once you have larvae you are in trouble – they will chomp through silk, wool, linen and similar expensive fabrics for months. Your best defense is to stop the adult moths settling in your house. If you do have larvae, consider deep freezing, dry cleaning or steam cleaning.

 

 


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12 Comments

  1. Jacqui

    I’ve googled images of feverfew but it just looks likes daisies to me – I wonder what the difference is? I have what looks like big and small daisies in the garden and wonder if one of them is feverfew? Hmmm.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Jaqui

      I found this interesting article on feverfew http://articles.grandmasherbs.com/articles/Medicinal-Herbs/FEVERFEW-55.html. It does have a strange smell described as musty. Interesting that bees don’t like it.

  2. Rosie Slosek

    I have clothes moths at home. They are the exception to the do not kill rule. If you see one, kill it straight away. They can eat holes in places and you won’t know until the damage is done and you have lots of baby moths, each one capable of starting the process all over again. *Shudder*

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Rosie

      Ditto. Hate clothes moths. Love the name of your online business BTW :-)

      • Rosie Slosek

        Thank you :)

        I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind being interviewed for my blog. Send me an email if you’d like to. I think a lot of readers would love to know blogs like this exist (yes, it has nothing to do with accounts, my blog is about people, and you count as one of those :) ).

      • Fiona Nevile

        Hi Rosie

        It would be a pleasure! I’ll email you.

      • Fiona Nevile

        Hi Rosie

        Sent an email but it keeps on bouncing back to me :(

  3. Jacqui

    Thanks Fiona. Lots of useful detail there. I’ll check out the leaves and smell. We’ve had a bit of a moth plague so anything ‘natural’ to get rid of the little blighters sounds good to me.

  4. Deborah

    Hi Fiona,

    I came here from the Starving Off the Land and am pleased to find this post. We have an annoying moth problem. I’ve taken everything out and cleaned and the little buggers still stick around. I will try this next.

    Also, I am excited to see others blogging about similar subjects. I’m writing about growing food in small spaces.

    Warm wishes,
    Deborah

  5. Terrier

    Fiona..one of my customers has a really pretty double feverfew, similar flowers, just doubles..hoping to get some cuttings in winter. If I get them growing I could send you some. Luckily we don’t have moths so I make tinctures with them for the headache cure.

  6. Anne Synnott

    Love your Blog, full of great tips. We had a bad infestation of clothes moths and had to get the carpets & furniture sprayed :-( they are coming back though after 3 years clear of them. We burn logs that we store in an outside log store & then in the house in baskets and I’ve discovered that the adult moths hide on the logs during the day and we carry them in blissfully unaware!! Of course they are harmless outside and very common. So now we make sure we check the logs as we bring them in and use natural repellents around the log stores too. If you sleep with vents or windows open you will get them creeping in at night so hang your repellents at windows too :-)
    Anne

  7. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    Great tip Fiona…I have some Feverfew outside in a container and will definitely bring some in for the dresser and store-room. I’ve found more than a few little holes in some of my tops this year!

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