The problem of pesky clothes moths munching through precious collections at National Trust properties is on the decline - thanks to an innovative trial at Norfolk's Blicking Hall.

A report by the trust has shown steady declines in pest counts in its houses in the east of England.

The decline has partly been put down to work to control clothes moths and silverfish at Blickling Hall, with a trial of moth pheromones proving particularly effective.

The conservation charity said overall nationally pest numbers were down 11pc at its properties compared to 2022, continuing a fall from lockdown highs, in its annual report on problem insects in its historic properties.

Eastern Daily Press: a clothes motha clothes moth (Image: Submitted)

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But there was less good news for books, paper and cotton collections cared for by the trust, as silverfish which feed on them retained top spot in the pest leaderboard, with a 6pc rise in recorded numbers.

The report helps the trust safeguard more than a million collection objects from precious books and tapestries to silk hangings on state beds.

Eastern Daily Press: homas Boleyn's ghost is said to drive the coach that delivers his daughter, Anne, to Blickling Hall on the anniversary of her executionhomas Boleyn's ghost is said to drive the coach that delivers his daughter, Anne, to Blickling Hall on the anniversary of her execution (Image: © ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012)

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The 18pc drop in clothes moths, the larvae of which can damage carpets, upholstery, woollen and silk objects and even taxidermy, follows on from a 33pc slump the previous year.

The falls come after pests increased at National Trust properties in 2020, in the relative quiet, darkness and absence of disruption in the Covid lockdowns.

Eastern Daily Press: Silverfish Picture: HistoryonicsSilverfish Picture: Historyonics (Image: Historyonics)

The report highlighted positive news from the east of England where monitoring showed steady declines in pest counts in its houses, aided by the trial of moth pheromones at Blickling Hall, near Aylsham.

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The trust’s assistant national conservator Alexandra Radford, who compiled the report, said: “The alarming increase we saw in 2021, driven by lockdown closures, is now a distant memory. This is excellent news for all our collections.

“The drop is likely because pest numbers are still falling from their lockdown highs, but it also reflects the decisive action and relentless efforts of house teams to manage moth numbers.

“We’ve put in place more training and resources to help property teams with integrated pest management, which is crucial to good collections care.”