Karla's Kolumn: Country life: Battling miller moths


July 7, 2022

Welcome to another installment of life in the country.

I know you were thinking there is plenty to write about especially about elections and debates but with one big debate scheduled for Wednesday (county commissioner candidates) look for me to write about that next week.

The past several weeks it has been the battle of the miller moth at our house. Thankfully we have a pup named Roscoe who has become a great moth killer, but even he can’t keep up.

According to the Colorado State University Extension Education, miller moths are the migrating adult stage of the army cutworm. A likely explanation for the migration, according to an Extension pamphlet is, “it allows the moths a reliable source of summer flowers. Flowers provide nectar which the moths use for food.”

According to the pamphlet, “During outbreak years, miller moth flights typically last five to six weeks.” Oh joy. With the late start (in my opinion) I have another two to four weeks.

Our house must lie right in the migration path I swear. Every year I think to myself “I have not seen any millers,” we must be lucking out this year. Nope. I just don’t have the timing down, or maybe each year their migration is off.

I am not talking about the two to three we get here at the office each day. I’m talking 10 to 20 or more a day.

One morning, my husband, who gets up about three hours before me for his work, said there was probably a hundred along the walls.

I thought “no way.” Until I did an internet search about killing miller moths and lo and behold there was a country blogger who talked about how sometimes she will have hundreds in her home.

The key, she says is finding where they are coming from and sealing that off.

Yes, that would be great, but we cannot figure that out and have not for several years.

We do not turn on porch lights after dusk. We tell the dogs they do not get to play the “in and out game” much after dusk. We keep the living room lights off after dark.

But still they come.

There have been fewer the past few nights but the last time that happened it was only a lull. I’m not falling for it again.

I am prepared.

My husband has a bucket of water that is under the porch light that he turns on in the morning.

I have a small bowl I fill with dishwater and put under the light on the stove while watching TV and usually catch five to six a night.

Then of course if you turn the ceiling fan light on and they circle the light you flip the fan on and it brings them down low enough to smack them.

We think they enter the basement first as I find them in our laundry room where I have the vacuum with the hose ready to suck them up (another internet trick I learned).

And, then we have our secret weapon Roscoe. He chases anything that flies birds, flies, water from sprinklers and miller moths.

At first he was catching them and eating them. He catches them off the sliding glass door or the one living room window.

Now when he catches one he will spit it out and watch if it moves. If it moves he grabs it again sometimes swallows and other times spits it out again. If it doesn’t move, he will toss me a glance and I tell him he doesn’t have to eat it. Sometimes he moves on to catch the next one and sometimes he goes ahead and eats them.

When they first started coming in Roscoe was so excited to have a new game but with so many and so many nights the enthusiasm waned fast.

Of course, now we have added all the mosquitoes at dawn and dusk and soon it will be grasshoppers.

While none are threatening, they are just annoying.

The most annoying thing with the miller moths is with all the lights off and if you are on your phone or tablet they come in and dive at your face.

I am counting the days when the migration is over, this year, in the meantime I’ll count miller moths with Roscoe.


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