These Fancy English Manor Moths Have No Idea Their Murders Are Imminent

This is actually a painting of a smallpox hospital, but trust me, it looks similar.
This is actually a painting of a smallpox hospital, but trust me, it looks similar.
Illustration: Wellcome Collection

Ain’t it always the way: Go to an idyllic English country estate to stroll the grounds, take in the robust air, chew on some ancient tapestries and end up murdered.

Thousands of moths that have flocked to Blickling Hall in Norfolk, England in order to see and taste the delights of English rural life in the absence of human visitors are about to learn the hard way that Agatha Christie wasn’t just making shit up, as the National Trust is about to ship in some murder wasps to kill them all. The tiny wasps, called Trichogramma evanescens, will infiltrate the moth colonies currently happily eating and copulating in the fancy carpets, furniture, tapestries, and painting without a care in the world by laying their own eggs within the moth eggs, mucking up the moths’ holiday, but having a nice one of their own, I suppose.

And because it’s a pastoral English setting, the trust is also planning some Midsummer Night’s Dream tomfoolery as well: “The company will also try a second tactic, spreading a female moth pheromone to confuse the male moths and reduce their chances of finding a mate.” All those poor moths all mixed up about which moths and or asses with which they are enamored. Tragicomedy!


But like any good Shakespearian production, when one player’s wheel of fortune is up, his dramatic counterpart’s must concurrently be down. Tomorrow the moths will be fortune’s fools but by next week, the moths could be back on top, soliloquizing to a wasp skull about infinite jest, as could we all.

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Rarely Sober Insomniac

“So they have a problem with moths eating stuff, right? So, naturally, wasps are the answer. And after the moths have been consumed by the wasps, well, now we have a bit of a wasp problem so you introduce a family of wasp-hunting praying mantis. And to get rid of...”

“Oh for fuck’s sake.”

“The big problem is going to be sourcing the grizzly bears.  Otherwise, I don’t know how we are going to root those arctic wolves out of there.”