North Korea has said it will start dismantling its nuclear test site this week, in a ceremony to be attended by foreign journalists. But what would it take for the country to truly "denuclearise"?
In the mountainous north-east of North Korea lies Pyongyang’s nuclear test facility – the Punggye-ri complex.
It has been used for six nuclear tests since 2006, but North Korea says "technical measures" to dismantle it will be carried out between 23 and 25 May.
North Korea has said it is committed to denuclearisation, but has threatened to pull out of forthcoming talks with US President Donald Trump, in a disagreement over how that might happen .
At first glance, Kim Jong-un’s pledge to close the test site appears to be a welcome first step towards ending its nuclear programme but how far does it actually go? Proper assessment
The Punggye-ri nuclear facility is the dedicated test site for North Korea’s nuclear weapons , with a system of tunnels dug below nearby Mount Mantap. It has been suggested the site has partially collapsed already.
Pyongyang says inviting foreign observers – South Korean and international journalists – to see the tunnels being collapsed and observation facilities removed will show its work in a "transparent manner". A satellite image of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea But it is not clear that experts have been invited as well – a measure that is necessary for the process to be properly assessed.
Inviting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) would allow confirmation that the test site is no longer capable of conducting nuclear tests.
The organisation, a UN-backed monitoring group that aims to ban nuclear tests worldwide, maintains a network of sensors to ensure that none is being conducted.
Its experts would be able to give a technical judgement about the completeness of the test site destruction. Trump says Kim Jong-un won’t be deposed
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Analysts will be looking for the collapse of the available test tunnels at Punggye-ri and removal of monitoring facilities.
After the ceremony, satellite imagery will be used by governments and independent experts to monitor for activity, new buildings and equipment, which might indicate that North Korea plans to resume testing.
Satellite imagery may not help if North Korea clandestinely opens a new nuclear test site. It has many other mountains that could be used.
But if that were the case, it would be unable to hide any new underground tests, as the resulting seismic tremors would be detected. North Korea’s willingness to dismantle Punggye-ri could indicate that it believes its nuclear programme has made sufficient progress and full testing is no longer needed.
It is also the case that closing the site is only a first step towards full denuclearisation, as its nuclear weapons programme goes far beyond the existence of one site.
It has a range of facilities that allows it to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium – the fissile materials needed for a nuclear weapon.
Among these are several uranium mines, as well as centrifuges, nuclear reactors and reprocessing facilities at its main nuclear facility – the Yongbyon nuclear complex .
In addition, it has the means of delivery for weapons – an intercontinental ballistic missile programme.
However, earlier this year a thaw in relations on the Korean peninsula saw North Korea announce it was halting all missile and nuclear testing . Pyongyang’s commitment to "denuclearisation" is likely to differ from Washington’s long-standing demand for "comprehensive, verifiable and irreversible" nuclear disarmament (CVID).
However, even stopping short of this, there are precedents that could help reduce instability.
In 1994, the Agreed Framework saw North Korea halt its nuclear programme , in return for heavy fuel oil and two light-water nuclear reactors.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – which oversees the use of nuclear technology – successfully carried out inspections to verify that North Korea was not diverting nuclear material for weapons production.
Inspections at the Yongbyon nuclear complex were a prominent part of the Agreed Framework and a cooling tower for a nuclear reactor used to produce plutonium was destroyed. However, this was not irreversible and in 2002, following the collapse of the agreement, Pyongyang announced it was reactivating Yongbyon. An admission that it had produced nuclear weapons for "self defence" followed in 2005.
Any future denuclearisation agreement would require an extraordinary amount of access for inspectors.
Destruction of the Punggye-ri test site may take a matter of weeks, but verifying the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons infrastructure would take years.
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Comprehensive, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament requires continuing monitoring of any remaining nuclear facilities.
Inspectors would need to be able to access declared facilities and they would need to monitor for clandestine sites.
Even then, there is little that can be done to undo the substantial expertise – both technical and scientific – that North Korea has acquired over the past decades.
The physical infrastructure doesn’t need to survive for the underlying knowledge to remain.
Without continuous intrusive monitoring by international inspectors, North Korea could restart its nuclear weapons programme within a matter of years. About this piece
This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from an expert working for an outside organisation .
Catherine Dill is a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies . Follow her @atomic_pickles Edited by Duncan Walker
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Liv and Hailey, students at North Bend High School Last month, a professor at Willamette University College of Law reached out to our office for help on a case her student-run legal clinic had been working on. It was, Professor Warren Binford said, one of the worst cases of discrimination at a school that she had ever seen in Oregon. In our job, we hear a lot of awful and heartbreaking cases, but the cruel treatment of LGBTQ students at North Bend High School shocked us.
LGBTQ students at the rural school on the Oregon coast have been harassed, threatened, bullied, and assaulted just for being who they are. What is worse is that when these students turned to the adults in charge to protect them, the school administrators, teachers, and staff not only ignored their pleas for help. Instead they told one of our clients she was going to hell for being gay, subjected LGBTQ students to harsher discipline than their straight peers, and equated homosexuality with bestiality. We also learned that both LGBTQ students and straight students have been forced to recite Bible passages as a punishment.
This is wrong on so many levels. The law specifically protects young LGBTQ people in school from bullying and being punished more harshly than their straight peers. Public schools aren’t allowed to force students to read the Bible for punishment or any other reason. That the school needed the Oregon Department of Education to step in to stop such clear violations of the law is astounding.
Two brave young women, Liv and Hailey, have been fighting to change their school. With the help of a friendly school counselor and Willamette Law’s legal clinic, they took their case to the Oregon Department of Education. The agency conducted a months-long investigation and found substantial evidence of discrimination and other violations of state and federal law.
Details of the cases were leaked to the local paper, and the school district has tried to downplay what happened. We have heard from a number of other current and former students, teachers, and other district staff who witnessed or were subjected to this kind of mistreatment at North Bend High School. Most of them are still too afraid of the current administration to come forward with their complaints.
Liv and Hailey have asked for serious changes at the school. For them, policy on paper isn’t enough if it isn’t enforced, and they want to make sure that other students will not have to face discrimination at school again. The school refused to make the changes, so, with our help, Liv and Hailey are continuing to pursue their case. Next week, there will be a hearing in their case, and we will represent them. Liv and Hailey will ask the state Education Department to affirm its finding of substantial evidence of discrimination and demand that North Bend high school administrators be held accountable.
It is clear that the school is not doing its job of protecting and treating all students fairly. Every kid deserves to have a safe and welcoming school, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or ethnicity, disability, or religious beliefs. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, the law and the Constitution protect the right to an education free from discrimination.
If you or anyone you know has experienced discrimination or mistreatment at a public school in Oregon, please reach out to us.
Nemanja Matic played 48 times for Manchester United this season Manchester United need to sign players with "experience" this summer, according to midfielder Nemanja Matic.
United lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea on Saturday and finished second in the Premier League, 19 points behind Manchester City.
That follows the club spending £148m on transfers last summer, including big-money signings Matic and Romelu Lukaku.
But Matic believes they can "fight for the title and Champions League" if they sign experienced players this summer.
"The only team who is better than us this year is Man City," said Matic, 29.
"Obviously, they play amazing football. But we are second and we are in the Champions League next year, which is the most important thing.
"I think we need some players with some experience to bring some more qualities to our team."
United have spent £261.67m over the past two seasons – £98.37m less than City – with a world record £89m fee paid for Paul Pogba in 2016.
Striker Lukaku, 25, joined for £75m last summer and Matic moved to Old Trafford for £40m.
There were also other expensive deals including moves for Victor Lindelof, 23, and Eric Bailly, 24, while Alexis Sanchez, 29, moved from Arsenal in January.
United last won the title in 2012-13 in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge and have since finished seventh, fourth, fifth, and sixth before their second-placed finish this season.
The diagnosis of cancer and other diseases in the UK can be transformed by using artificial intelligence, Theresa May is to say.
The NHS and technology companies should use AI as a "new weapon" in research, the PM will urge in a speech later.
Experts say it can be used to help prevent 22,000 cancer deaths a year by 2033 while aiding the fight against heart disease, diabetes and dementia.
High-skilled science jobs will also be created, Mrs May is to pledge.
Speaking in Macclesfield, Mrs May will say: "Late diagnosis of otherwise treatable illnesses is one of the biggest causes of avoidable deaths.
"And the development of smart technologies to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings opens up a whole new field of medical research." Eight ways intelligent machines are already in your life
Artificial intelligence ‘as good as cancer doctors’
The prime minister wants to see computer algorithms sifting through patients’ medical records, genetic data and lifestyle habits to spot cancer.
BBC health and science correspondent James Gallagher says Mrs May’s plans do chime with excitement within medical science about the potential of using data and AI.
But our correspondent added there are many challenges ahead including creating the right infrastructure within the health service, separating hype and genuine innovation and ensuring the public’s highly personal data is used responsibly. More personalised treatment
Cancer Research UK says halving the number of lung, bowel, prostate and ovarian cancers diagnosed at an advanced stage could prevent thousands of deaths a year. The prime minister will also unveil a new strategy to help older people remain healthy Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive officer of Cancer Research, described the government’s plans as pioneering but added: "We need to ensure we have the right infrastructure, embedded in our health system, to make this possible."
Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Using artificial intelligence to analyse MRI scans could spot early signs of heart disease which may be missed by current techniques.
"This could lead to a quicker diagnosis with more personalised treatment that could ultimately save lives."
Mrs May will also use her speech to announce a new target to ensure that five more years of people’s lives will be healthy, independent and active by 2035.
The government’s ambition to clean up motor vehicles by 2040 is not ambitious enough a leading energy expert says.
Professor Jim Watson, head of the prestigious UK Energy Research Centre, said the target should be at least five years earlier, as in Scotland.
The government is currently considering obliging new cars to run on electricity for at least 50 miles by 2040.
The government said it would not discuss the issue before it had published its policy which is due soon.
But ministers are facing competing pressures on the issue. Some UK car firms are telling ministers their proposed targets are unachievable, while others say the targets can easily be reached. Push and go faster
Professor Watson, who started working life as a car engineer, says the motor industry has a history of saying targets are impossible, then suddenly finding new models to do the job.
“It’s great that they [the government] are having a target, but it could be much more ambitious,” he told BBC News.
“If you push industry further they could go faster.
“Sometimes the car industry has done itself a great disservice by lobbying against environmental standards and then finding itself in trouble when the oil price goes up and people want cleaner, more efficient cars.”
“They should embrace it [a strong target] and ask government to regulate them harder.” Extinction
Professor Watson was referring to the long campaign by US car makers against tighter efficiency standards – a battle that ended when the manufacturers faced bankruptcy because in part their models were inefficient.
In effect, the US car firms were so successful with lobbying that they nearly lobbied themselves into extinction. Air pollution over London One UK car firm spokesman told me: “We don’t have a good record on this – the industry has cried ‘wolf’ too often in the past.”
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told BBC News it rejected this suggestion.
There is certainly a range of views among UK car firms about the advisability of the 2040 target. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said publicly that it expects to meet the government’s current proposed standards long before the set date.
A spokesman said: “From 2020, every new Jaguar and Land Rover will have the option of electrification.
“This (2040 target) is 22 years away – or seven new cars away for many new car buyers on a typical ownership cycle. We are confident that every new Jaguar or Land Rover will meet the proposed criteria long before 2040.” Ill-considered
Nissan told BBC News it supported clean car targets. A spokesman said: “As the pioneer of electric vehicles, we welcome plans that encourage people to switch to low or zero emission vehicles.”
But other manufacturers discussing the issue on condition of anonymity told BBC News the proposed 2040 standards are ill-considered.
One criticised the idea currently under consideration by the Department for Transport to force hybrid cars, by 2040, to have the capacity to travel 50 miles without burning fossil fuels.
The car maker said this would require a much bigger battery entailing more weight and cost. That extra capacity would be redundant for most of the time for an average driver. Barrage of criticism
The issue is causing headaches for many other governments needing to cut emissions that cause local air pollution and climate change.
India’s transport minister announced 2030 as a day beyond which only all-electric cars may be sold.
But after a barrage of criticism from car firms, he rescinded the order, and India’s policy is not yet clear. Tata Motors in Delhi did not want to comment on whether it could cope with a 2030 all-electric policy.
What is certain is that in Europe and Asia, car makers are being expected to move inexorably towards low or zero emissions vehicles. Charging infrastructure
The car makers admit they face uncertainty over the future. After decades of homogenisation of world markets, they may find themselves manufacturing electric cars to access the Chinese economy on the one hand and petrol SUVs for Texas on the other.
Car makers think China will probably become a world leader in car standards – especially in cities.
The UK car firms are in concert on one issue: the need for the government to radically improve the supply of charging infrastructure, and to increase incentives to buy low-emissions cars.
They told BBC News ministers would need to move swiftly to accelerate demand for clean cars, or it would be impossible to step up production levels to the amount needed by 2040.
Electric and hybrid cars currently constitute 1.4% of the current UK fleet. Of new sales, 4.7% are clean fuel – that’s 119,786 out of 2.54 million cars sold last year.
Mike Hawes from the SMMT told BBC News: "Vehicle manufacturers will increasingly offer electrified versions of their vehicles giving consumers ever more choice but industry cannot dictate the pace of change nor levels of consumer demand."
Environmentalists say this is a red herring – car buyers, they say, will buy whatever vehicles are permitted to be sold in the country at that time.
The environment department Defra is concerned that their colleagues in transport at DfT have had their ambition dulled by car industry lobbying.
One Defra source told me: “They are chancing their arm. The targets for 2040 are not ambitious at all.”
The DfT didn’t want to address that comment.
Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin
Flavio Augusto is estimated to be worth $300m When an entrepreneurial teenager got a job selling language courses over the telephone, he wasn’t going to let the fact that he didn’t have a phone stand in his way.
It was 1991 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the then 19-year-old Flavio Augusto da Silva had got the telesales position for a school teaching English.
The catch was that the role did not come with access to an office, and instead he was expected to work from home. And unfortunately his parents didn’t have a landline.
Household phone lines were a luxury in Brazil at the time, and his parents could not afford the 3,510 reais ($960; £710) instillation fee. Even if they could, there was a two-year waiting list.
So with mobile phones still a thing of the future for the vast majority of people, Mr Augusto had to think laterally or else his tenure in the job was not going to last very long.
His solution was to use the public telephones at Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport, and make the transport hub his office. Mr Augusto started his business career at Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport Today Mr Augusto’s language school business Wiser Education has an annual turnover of $113m (£84m), and Flavio’s personal wealth is estimated at $300m.
"I have no doubts that I found my call in life at that airport," says the 46-year-old.
Back in 1991 his younger self soon discovered that he was rather good at selling places in English language classes, despite the busy airport noises in the background.
Quickly rising up through the business to the position of commercial director, four years later Mr Augusto decided it was time to set up his own English language school.
"I felt I was ready for it," he says. "The company I was working for wasn’t willing to make the investments to improve the quality of their courses.
"I knew the product and I knew I could do it."
However, Mr Augusto faced two immediate issues that he had to overcome. Wise Up today has 440 branches across South America Firstly, while he was good at selling English language courses, he himself only knew a few words of English at that time. So it was going to be difficult for him to devise the actual learning material.
Secondly, Mr Augusto couldn’t get a bank loan. So instead he had to rely on a $5,500 overdraft on which he was paying a high interest rate.
Hiring 18 people with English language skills to develop the teaching materials and methodology, he gambled that enough members of the public would enrol on the courses for him not to go bust after just a few months.
Launching his Wise Up business classes he decided he would focus on attracting a different type of customer to the majority of language schools in Brazil.
At the time most schools in Brazil were focused on children and people going abroad on holiday. His idea was to instead develop a course for adults who needed to learn English to help them in the Brazilian jobs market. When he launched Wise Up in 1995 Mr Augusto only had enough money to pay the original team of staff (pictured) for one month if they didn’t get any customers "There were many international companies arriving in Brazil that year, so English would become a demand in the hiring process," he says.
Thankfully his guess was correct, and despite a tough economic backdrop – Brazil’s inflation rate in 1995 was 148% – 1,000 people signed up to the first Wise Up classes in Rio in the first year. And by 1998 there were 24 Wise Up schools employing 1,000 people, across Brazil.
Two years later Wise Up started to expand even faster after it adopted the franchise model, and by 2012 there were 400 branches across the country.
That was the moment Mr Augusto thought his job was done at the company. "As an entrepreneur I see myself as a constructor," he says. "I want to build a successful project, and then go for the next challenge."
And so that year he sold Wise Up – of which he was the sole owner – for $240m to Brazilian media conglomerate Grupo Abril.
The next challenge for Mr Augusto was going into football, and in 2013 he bought a majority stake in US side Orlando City for $120m, shortly before it joined Major League Soccer (MLS), the top tier of the American football system. Mr Augusto bought US football team Orlando City in 2013 As interest in MLS has grown in recent years, the value of the teams has soared. Today Orlando City is valued at $490m, making it one of the richest in MLS.
One of the main reasons that Mr Augusto chose Orlando is because the city is one of the most popular overseas holiday destinations for Brazilians. More The Boss features, which every week profile a different business leader from around the world: The restaurateur couple who overcame arson threats
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Back in Brazil Wise Up struggled under Grupo Abril’s ownership. So much so in fact that in 2015 it offered to sell the company back to him for $107m, less than half of what Flavio had sold it for. He accepted.
Under his renewed ownership the business has expanded again, and there are now 440 Wise Up branches across Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, run by parent group Wiser Education. Mr Augusto say he wants to increase this to 1,000 by 2020, so he has no current plans to leave the business again. His business interests have expanded a long way from their start in Rio de Janeiro Brazilian business analyst Ricard Motta says that Mr Augusto has a reputation for being "an audacious" entrepreneur who quickly expanded his company because "he planned his steps in advance".
Although now busy with both the language business and football club, Mr Augusto regularly updates his online blog "Valuation Generation", which aims to offer advice and encouragement to would-be young entrepreneurs.
"I see my trajectory as proof that everybody is capable of doing it," says the married farther of three. "I don’t feel I’m better than anyone. It’s only a matter of learning how to do it."
Jameela Jamil on equal pay, #MeToo and body image Jameela Jamil has said she was told she was "too old, too ethnic and too fat" to launch a career in the US.
The former BBC Radio 1 presenter landed a part in sitcom The Good Place in her first audition, despite being "actively discouraged" from moving to Hollywood by some in the UK.
The 32-year-old said she moved to Los Angeles without a job or even a plan.
"I was literally starting again and I was actively discouraged by everyone in England," she told BBC Radio 5 live ‘s Anna Foster.
"Everyone said I was being mad, throwing away an eight-year career, and that I was too old – I was only 29 – too ethnic, and too fat to come over to Los Angeles." Jameela stars alongside Cheers star Ted Danson in the sitcom She admitted she exaggerated her acting experience to win a role in The Good Place alongside Ted Danson and Kristen Bell.
"I lied in my audition. I said I’d mostly done theatre because it’s harder to track down," Jamil explained.
"Technically it’s not a lie because when I was six I played Oliver’s mother in my school play. I was creative with the truth."
In the show, Jameela plays Tahani Al-Jamil, a wealthy British philanthropist whose name translates as "Congratulations Beautiful".
It’s been praised by critics and has been renewed for a third season.
"I didn’t even have time to get an acting coach, so I basically had to learn how to act from Ted Danson.
"I’m a fast learner and I have an amazing group of people around me. I’m not De Niro, but I’m getting there." L-R: Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, Kristen Bell and Manny Jacinto in The good Place Jameela’s time in Hollywood has coincided with the #MeToo movement and the debate about equal pay.
"I feel very comfortable asking my co-stars what they earn," she said.
"There is a pay gap between Ted Danson and Kristen Bell – but he was in Cheers, he is a national treasure. It’s not just about gender, that’s about what you bring to the table.
"But when there’s a man and woman of the same age, with the same level of experience in any industry – it blows my mind we are still treated as second-rate citizens and I think it is changing, slowly but surely."
She said #MeToo had been "amazing" and celebrates the fact that "the men are afraid of the women for the first time ever". Jameela said her character Tahani may look sweet, but she’ "passive aggressive" and a "nightmare" "Producers would ask for our second meeting to be at dinner, at night in a restaurant, which felt significantly more like a date – which I would always decline – that doesn’t happen anymore."
Jameela launched the I Weigh campaign on Instagram to encourage people to post images weighing their achievements rather than their bodies.
She described LA as "the devil’s lair" when it comes to body image obsession, and now insists that magazines do not tamper with pictures of her. A typical post on Jameela’s ‘I Weigh’ Instagram feed "When I get Photoshopped by magazines – people change the shape of my nose to make my nose look less ethnic. They don’t tell me and it’s really offensive.
"I don’t feel flattered when a magazine creates this ‘flawless’ version of me – I feel really offended because that’s no longer my face. I’ve got a tiny Caucasian nose, my skin has been lightened, my pores have been removed, my stretch marks have been removed.
"[These are] things that I don’t have a problem with – then I can’t help but think, ‘Wow, what I brought wasn’t good enough’. Being Photoshopped is so offensive."
Anna Foster’s full interview with Jameela Jamil is broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live at 10:00 BST on Monday 21 May.
The City of London is being used to hide the "corrupt Russian assets," the report says The UK has been accused of turning a "blind eye" to Russia’s "dirty money", putting national security at risk.
The Commons foreign affairs committee said London was being used to hide the "corrupt assets" of President Vladimir Putin and his allies.
It said it was "business as usual" for the UK despite the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
This undermined the UK’s efforts to confront the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures, it said.
The UK’s "lethargic response is being taken as proof that we don’t dare stop them… London’s markets are enabling the Kremlin’s efforts," committee chairman and Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat wrote in the Sunday Times, ahead of the the publication of the report.
Security and economic crime minister Ben Wallace said he had not been called to give evidence to the committee: "I fear such an omission weakens the foundation of the report," he said.
Mr Wallace said the UK was "determined to drive dirty money and the money launderers out".
"[We] will use all the powers we have, including the new powers in the Criminal Finance Act, to clamp down on those that threaten our security," he added. The UK’s efforts to confront President Putin’s offensive measures are being undermined, MPs say Mr Tungendhat said ministers should investigate "gaps" in the sanctions regime which allows the Russian government and individuals linked to President Putin to continue to raise funds in the City.
The report, named Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK, points out that Russian gas giant Gazprom was able to trade bonds in London "days after the attempted murders" of Mr Skripal and his daughter.
That business between the UK and Russia had resumed so swiftly prompted the Russian embassy in London to tweet: "Business as usual?"
"The scale of damage that this ‘dirty money’ can do to UK foreign policy interests dwarfs the benefit of Russian transactions in the City.
"The UK must be clear that the corruption stemming from the Kremlin is no longer welcome in our markets and we will act," said Mr Tugendhat.
The committee’s report urges the government to show "stronger political leadership" on the issue by taking a number of actions, including: further sanctions against "Kremlin-connected individuals"
Closing loopholes in the existing sanctions regime
Speeding up plans to disclose transparent corporate ownership
It’s been reported that the number of clothes-eating moths is surging. But are there figures to back this up?
You’ll know if they’re in your home. Hundreds of little creamy-white insects cluster in living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, cupboards, bathrooms.
Bald patches form in carpets, while holes appear in jumpers, curtains, scarves and dresses.
According to recent reports, the number of fabric-destroying moths – whose larvae (tiny caterpillars) feed on protein in animal-based fabrics such as wool, fur, velvet and silk before they become winged insects – is on the increase.
But is this based on anecdote alone, or are there some actual findings to back it up? Rapid rise of moths threatens historic fabrics
Five facts about munching moths
The pest-control firm Rentokil recently reported that calls relating to clothes-moth infestations had risen by a third in a year. The Sun newspaper said a mild spring had brought on a "critter-breeding frenzy", likely to bring on more insects this summer.
Last year, English Heritage, custodian of many a tapestry and tabard, claimed numbers of the common clothes moth caught in its properties had doubled in five years.
The organisation launched a further study, providing people in 42 counties of England with a total of 5,000 indoor traps. The results were published in April this year, showing these average regional concentrations of moths per trap: London and South East – 23
South West – 17
West Midlands – 16
East of England – 12
North East – six
North West – five
East Midlands – three
So, where you lived in England (the study didn’t stretch to the rest of the UK) influenced the likelihood of moths being a problem.
Pre-1950-built houses were the properties most susceptible to infestation, explained by their having more voids, fireplaces and attics than modern homes. The common clothes moth is much more colourful in close-up But what evidence is there of an increase in numbers?
The charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) has been carrying out surveys of the British moth population since the late 1960s, using outdoor traps. But it hasn’t done the same indoors, which is where common clothes moths – the ones that do most damage to materials – are usually found.
But BC’s Philip Sterling, who has studied moths since the 1970s, believes the anecdotal evidence for population increases among clothes-eating species is overwhelming.
"When I first started, I would hardly ever come across clothes-eating moths in houses," he says. "The common moth wasn’t that common at all. But in the last 20 to 30 years in particular it’s become far more common." How to deal with a moth infestation
Deep clean all your wardrobes and chests of drawers
Shake out wool clothes and other animal-fibre garments outdoors every few weeks to dislodge larvae
Wash clothes containing animal fibres on the highest possible temperature (always read labels first)
Once clean, place clothes in sealed plastic bags
For more delicate fabrics, such as silk, place the items in plastic bags and leave in the freezer for 12 hours or more
Use mothballs, although the scent is unpleasant to humans too and hard to remove
Dr Sterling says case-bearing clothes moths – so-called because their larvae carry a silken case around with them – are seen more often too.
A return to the use of natural fabrics, especially wool, which attracts the feeding larvae of common moths, is partly responsible, he argues. Foreign travel has meant more carpets, pashminas and so on coming into the UK, bringing moths, he adds.
During the 1970s, by contrast, the fashion for nylon shirts and polyester dresses meant more clothes were inedible.
But today’s infestations would have seemed paltry to our more distant ancestors. "Certainly there would have been far more moths in Victorian times or a bit before, when there would be more natural materials in use," says Dr Sterling.
"They probably didn’t mention them as much back then, because they were more worried about ticks and lice and other creatures.
"But the basic pattern seems to be that, in the 20th Century, clothes-eating moth populations went down a lot and they have come back a bit in recent years. I expect they’ll continue to do so for a while too." The Jersey tiger moth is a treat for moth-watchers The brown house moth, once the most common clothes-eating moth, would have been very familiar to Victorians. It prefers cool, damp conditions and is no longer found so often in centrally heated homes.
But the environment is better for the heat-loving common clothes moth, which Dr Sterling says probably originates in Africa.
Common clothes moths and case-bearing clothes moths don’t travel very far on their own in the UK, as they can’t usually survive outdoors in its cool climate for long. So infestations tend to be localised, larvae and grown moths being transported via people’s clothing, from one home to another nearby.
Also, it must be noted that only about seven of the UK’s 2,500 species of moths are known to damage fabrics.
And the news for moths, in general, is not good. Butterfly Conservation found that two-thirds of the 337 species it tracked outdoors had declined in numbers.
Dr Sterling says the areas where clothes-eating moths appear most prevalent – the southern parts of England – are in fact those where populations of outdoor moths have declined most.
Agricultural changes, including greater use of pesticides and fertilisers, have left less habitat like hedgerows in which they can thrive.
"Most moths are no bother to anyone and many are beautiful," says Dr Sterling. "It’s just that the ones we come into contact with most often cause us the most problems." Read more from Reality Check Send us your questions
Hero Images via Getty Images When I bumped into a former colleague who told me I was looking well I had mixed emotions. I don’t want to seem ungrateful (in fact these days if someone thinks I look ok enough to mention it, then I’m delighted!) However, thanks in part to the government’s welfare reform agenda, and certain sections of the media who have cast doubts on the validity of those of us with a chronic illness or disability, when someone says, “You’re looking well”, what we sometimes hear is, “You can’t be that ill” or, “You’re faking it”. Paranoia? Probably, but I have multiple sclerosis and many of the symptoms can’t be seen. You can’t see pain, burning, vertigo, nausea, numbness, vision problems, muscle weakness and fatigue. However, this doesn’t make them any less debilitating (think your worst hangover combined with transatlantic jet lag after a 10k run and a spin on the Waltzer with bad sunburn and you begin to get the idea!)
I’ve spoken recently to people with other chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus and heart problems. All can cause significant physical symptoms, but with very few outward signs of how the person is feeling. There is no sling to see or plaster cast to sign. It is difficult for people to understand why we can’t do something when we look ‘well’ and sometimes we feel people don’t believe us. The main symptom in common for all these conditions is fatigue and it’s more than just being tired. It is all consuming and can come on without warning. You can wake up after a good night’s sleep barely able to get out of bed.
You can have a shower and then not have the energy to get dressed. Arms and legs can feel so heavy you can hardly lift them, you can’t think straight and sometimes you don’t even have the energy to speak. You can put so much effort into cooking a meal that you don’t have the energy to eat it. When it comes on so suddenly, it’s like my old mobile phone, where the battery would show 50% and then drop to 1% just as I needed to make a call, with no warning and no charger available!
I’ve also noticed a worrying increase in the number of people, particularly strangers, who feel they have the right to comment on other people’s appearance and situations, too. They think it’s ok to comment on weight gain or loss, whether someone ‘deserves’ a disabled parking permit or why someone isn’t working… like it’s any of their business!? I know there are a small number of people cheating the system but generally if you see someone using a blue badge to park in a disabled bay it is because they have been assessed as needing it, so even if you can’t see a wheelchair or a walking stick it doesn’t mean they are not eligible. If you see a person who you know has a chronic health condition out and about it’s probably because they’re having a ‘better’ day (or even just a ‘better’ hour) and they may well have been resting all morning just to be able to manage to meet a friend for coffee or a trip to the shop. You won’t see them on a bad day, because they’ll be at home. Probably in bed.
It’s all about appearances. My make up bag and hair straighteners are a godsend and I can make myself look fairly presentable in 10 minutes with a bit of slap and freshly ironed hair. However, for me to go out, even to the local shops, takes a huge amount of effort and planning. If I have something to do in the morning I will try to make sure the rest of the day is clear, if I have something to do in the evening I will try to keep the days either side free. This isn’t always possible, but that’s the plan! However, sometimes I just don’t go out. The combination of symptoms on that day are just too much and I have to stay at home. Every day is a struggle. Sometimes every moment of a day is a struggle. I am never symptom free. They change, they morph, they come, they go, but never leave entirely. Sometimes they are a nuisance in the background, other times they are all consuming. I never know how I’m going to be on any given day and I have to try not to let that bother me. I have to plan things regardless and keep my fingers crossed that I will be well enough to do it.
Occasionally I plan something ‘big’. Maybe a gig or a night out with friends, but I turn down many more invitations than I accept. I don’t do a lot of the stuff I would love to do, often deciding to wait for the DVD rather than go to the cinema to see a film. I make that choice and that’s ok , because I can choose to give up and do nothing, or I can try to make the best of things. It might be a scaled back version and it won’t necessarily have the travel or the dancing that I would’ve liked. However, it will have the bits I can do. The occasional concert, the catch up with friends or going to the football. All planned with military precision to minimise the after effects, but enjoyed all the same.
People with chronic conditions don’t want pity or sympathy but an understanding that if we are out and about it probably won’t have been easy and if we turn down an invitation or cancel last minute, it’s nothing personal!