Miller Moths Taking Over Kansas

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Are your light fixtures being taken over by miller moths? You are not alone. The flying nuisances have taken over Kansas as they begin their spring migration to the Rocky Mountains.

"They're quite early. Normally, they'd be mid-May to mid-June when we see them flying around," said Rebecca McMahon, Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County Extension Office.

Why are they early, and why do there seem to be more this year? More than likely, experts say it is because of the warm fall and winter Kansas experienced this past year, which tends to keep the army cutworm caterpillars alive.

"They will feed on pollen and nectar and plants, and then they will come into somebody's home, and that's when they're a nuisance. But, they don't bite, they don't transmit any diseases," said Dr. Raymond Cloyd, Horticulture Entomologist, Kansas State University.

If miller moths are driving you crazy, experts say you can either swat them or use a bowl of soapy water next to a light to capture them and kill them.

The best advice is to leave your porch lights off and your doors and windows closed. That helps ensure a large number of them are not getting indoors, which could lead to other problems.

"If you have some of them die in a house, in a corner, or by a wall board, or some isolated area, then beetles and other rodents might start come feeding on the dead bodies," said Dr. Cloyd.

Outdoors, a high number of moths can be detrimental to crops and plants.

"The larvae will feed on some crops, like wheat and alfalfa, and some garden plants, but they don't really cause substantial damage unless they're in high numbers," said Dr. Cloyd.

Although just one can be annoying, if you are patient, most of the miller moths will be out of Kansas in a few weeks.

"Not really anything we can do about them, other than wait for them to be gone," said McMahon.

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