Moths flying around light bulbs. Photo Credit: NeagoneFo (iStock).

Photo Credit: NeagoneFo (iStock).

The miller moths are back in Colorado, but you may notice fewer as they travel from the plains to the mountains on their annual migration west.

Researchers at Colorado State University say to expect to see "substantially less” of a moth influx with the peak of the migration likely to "occur later” than in 2020.

Upon migrating from the east, the moths will spend the summer in the mountains "feeding and fattening" up on flowering plants before returning to the plains in early September to lay eggs.

The the number of insects that develop in the spring and how abundant flowering plants are are top factors in how many months hit the front range.

Large outbreaks of the army cutworm, the moth's juvenile state, are often followed by large flights of miller moths. Fewer crops destroyed by army cutworms this year in eastern Colorado is one of the reasons why the number of moths is likely to be "average or a bit below average this year."

The moths are expected to be spread out thanks to an abundance of spring moisture this year and the resulting high number of flowering plants.

"With more abundant blossom availability moths do not concentrate so heavily in irrigated landscapes, and become less noticeable," the university's researchers said.

How long the moths stick around depends largely on temperature. While the peak is expected anywhere from early to mid-June, the moths could still be flying around by late June.

Miller moths originate in eastern Colorado and areas of western Kansas and Nebraska. Millions of moths migrate west annually in search of nectar as summer flowers and plants start to emerge. One key reason they head west for summer is that cooler temperatures at higher elevations are less stressful to moths, allowing them to better conserve and store energy.Β 

Breanna Sneeringer writes about news, adventure, and more for OutThere Colorado as the Digital Content Producer. She is an avid adventure seeker and wildflower enthusiast. Breanna joined OutThere Colorado in September 2018.

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