Run! Hide! The miller moth invasion has begun

MATT STEINER Updated: April 23, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: April 23, 2012

Miller moths have commenced their assault on the Pikes Peak region.

After a mild winter, the grey nuisances woke up early this year.

They squeeze into houses and garages through every crack and crevasse. They hang out around porch lights, waiting to enter homes unwelcomed. They bombard cars in a fluttering blizzard.

They simply are a nuisance as they migrate from the eastern plains to the mountains for their chance to sip on sweet nectar from wildflowers.

“You’ll never be able to control them,” said James Whidden, owner of Mug-a-Bug Pest Control on U.S. 24 east of Colorado Springs. “What you kill off today will be replaced and replenished tomorrow. It’s just one wave after another and they come continuously.”

Whidden said the six- to eight-week migration happens every year along the Front Range, but doesn’t usually begin until well into May. The moths are the mature form of the army cutworm and have reached adulthood much sooner because of warm winter temperatures, Whidden said.

Mug-a-Bug has been in business for 27 years and gets a flood of calls whenever the migration begins. Unfortunately, Whidden and his crew can only share some helpful hints. There’s nothing a pest control company can do.

“I really wish I could come up with something,” Whidden said. “It would be a great program for us.”

While the moths can be annoying, they will not do any damage.

“They’re not harmful at all,” Whidden said.

Social media has begun to teem with comments about the fluttering invaders. The Gazette posted the question “Have they invaded your house yet?” early Monday on its Facebook page.

The response has been almost as lively as the moth migration, with more than 30 comments in the first hour.

“OMG! Thank goodness I am not the only one going through this!” Cynthia Jarvis Pagan posted, noting that she’s “too chicken to kill them,” deferring that duty to her husband and teenage son.

Several posters shared tales of squashing and vacuuming the little critters, using their “ninja skills” to ward them off. One Facebook friend of the newspaper simply “screamed and ran,” she said. Another set a bowl of soapy water under the outside light and woke up to 20-25 dead moths.

Whidden and insect experts at Colorado State University recommend the soapy water method to help minimize the dusty mess of squashing the inch-long menaces. They also say swatting them or using a vacuum are good ways to get them out of the house.

CSU says the best ways to keep moths from getting indoors, however, are to seal obvious openings around windows and doors and reduce lighting both inside and out.

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