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Miller Moths

Miller Moths Miller moth is the term given to any type of moth that is particularly abundant in and around homes. In the eastern half of Colorado, the common miller is the army cutworm, Euxoa auxiliaris.

Miller Moths

Miller Moths

‘Miller moth’ is the term given to any type of moth that is abundant in and around homes. In Colorado and much of the Rocky Mountain west, the common ‘miller’ is the adult stage of the army cutworm, Euxoa auxiliaris. In some years it becomes a serious nuisance pest, particularly during its annual migration from the plains to the mountains in late spring.

Life Cycle :The army cutworm has an unusual life history. Eggs are laid by the moths in late summer and early fall. Most eggs are laid in weedy areas of wheat fields, alfalfa fields or other areas where vegetation is thick. The eggs hatch within a few weeks and the young caterpillars feed. The army cutworm spends the winter as a partially grown caterpillar and resumes feeding the following spring. At this time, the cutworms may damage crops, including alfalfa, winter wheat (after the broadleaf weeds nearly are gone) and gardens. They become full grown by mid-spring, burrow into the soil and pupate.

About two to three weeks later, the adult miller stage of the insect emerges. Spring flights of miller moths, moving east to west across the eastern half of the state, originate from moths that developed across eastern Colorado and probably as far as the border areas of Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas. They fly west and ultimately settle at higher elevations. There they spend one to two months feeding on nectar. During this time, they are in reproductive diapause and do not lay eggs. In late summer, they return east to lay eggs and repeat the cycle.

Damage: Moths in the home do not feed or lay eggs. During the migratory flights, the moths do not produce nor lay eggs. Furthermore, they do not feed on any household furnishings or food. Moths in the home will eventually find a way outdoors or die without reproducing.When large numbers die in a home there may be a small odor problem (due to the fat in their bodies turning rancid). Also, unless they are cleaned out, old moths may serve as food for carpet beetles (See fact sheet 5.549, Carpet Beetles.) and other household scavengers. These secondary insects may become problems in subsequent years.

Miller Moths

Control:Miller moths are flying try to seal any obvious openings, particularly around windows and doors. Also reduce lighting at night in and around the home during flights. This includes turning off all unnecessary lights or substituting non-attractive yellow lights.Once in the home, the best way to remove the moths is to swat or vacuum them or to attract them to traps.

A easy trap to make is to suspend a light bulb over a bucket partially filled with soapy water. (Always use a grounded plug and extreme caution when using any electrical device near water!) Some wetting agent, such as soap or detergent must be added or many moths will escape, the water beading readily off the scales of their wings and body. Moths attracted to the light often will fall into the water and be killed. Jingling keys or some other noise that induces evasive flight behaviors can sometimes dramatically speed the capture rate when using the soapy water trap.

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