Miller Moths Back With A Vengeance

A mild winter has brought miller moths back to Colorado with a vengeance.

The six- to eight-week migration happens every year along the Front Range, but doesn't usually begin until well into May.

The pesky moths squeeze into homes and garages through every crack and crevice and try to sneak in by hanging out by the porch lights and crawling up screens.

“You’ll never be able to control them,” James Whidden, owner of Mug-a-Bug Pest Control told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “What you kill off today will be replaced and replenished tomorrow. It’s just one wave after another and they come continuously.”

The moths make they annual trek every spring from the eastern plains to the mountains but this year because of warm winter temperatures, they've reached adulthood much sooner and migrate earlier than usual, Whidden said.

The moths are born on the plains of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska in late fall as army cutworms, feeding off the wheat and alfalfa fields. By mid-spring, they burrow into the soil and, within two to three weeks, emerge as moths. Then they move toward the mountains for cooler temperatures and an abundance of flowers, which provide their lifeblood: nectar.

The much-maligned moths' annual migration, from east to west, happens nowhere else in the continental United States.

By nature, they use moonlight to navigate their flight, and seek shelter in dark places during the day, winding up inside cars, houses, closets and cupboards. At night, some get sidetracked along the way -- either by street lights or porch lamps or the bright lights of stadiums.

The moths are as much a sign of spring as the waking black bears, who feed on them, or the snowmelt runoff. Swallows dive-bomb in pursuit of them in intersections.

Whidden said although they can be annoying, they are not harmful.

Miller moths are immune to most insecticides, so the easiest way to eliminate them is to suck them up with a vacuum cleaner hose or just swat them.

You could also attract them with water traps.

One way to trap them is to suspend a light bulb over a partially filled bucket of water. Moths attracted to the light often will fall into the water and be killed.

A 7NEWS viewer also recommends a different method. "Get a small bowl and put in some dishwasher soap and then light a small candle in the middle of the bowl. Put it on a mantle or shelf up high. The moths will go into the soap and will be unable to fly," 7NEWS viewer Michelle Estby Suparat said our Facebook page.

Get more information about miller moths by the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.

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