There is a flurry of activity in front yard…the moth invasion of 2020 has arrived.

The birds are happy and we are vacuuming them up like crazy!

“What are they, where did they come from?”

“Miller moths” is a generic term used to describe various species of plain brown drab moth.

Because their wings are covered with scales, they produce “dust” as they flit about. Upon close examination, it can be seen that moths, in fact, have very distinctive wing patterns beyond the plain, brown and drab generic descriptor.

In particular, army cutworm moths, Euxoa auxillaris, illustrate the variability of moths. There are five morphological forms of army cutworm moths.

Each possesses its own intricate and distinctive wing pattern. Adding more variety, brown specimens of each are males, whereas grayish individuals are females.

With the approach of daylight, army cutworm moths seek shelter/cover in any conceivable space: a car window left open overnight is an example – and when one gets ready to drive to work, he/she will be greeted by a flurry of excited moths; open a polycart to deposit a trash bag and you may be greeted by a rush of moths; take an early morning walk and as you pass a line of shrubs, you may be startled by hundreds of excited moths darting out; and so on.

In homes, catch or swat a moth on your wall or curtains and you will find a coating of the aforementioned “dust”/wing scales left behind.

Because moths can exploit very small openings, it is virtually impossible to exclude moths from entering homes/buildings.

However, the nuisance period is short-lived. Simply, as if by magic, moths quickly disappear.

On an unknown cue, moths from the entire central plains region form massive westward flights to the Rocky Mountains. Feeding throughout the summer at the cooler higher elevations, moths become sexually mature and also accumulate fat reserves.

By fall, moths migrate back to the central plains. Each female moth is capable of producing between 1,000–3,000 eggs. Larvae emerge and begin feeding. Partially grown larvae are then the

over wintering stage of the species.

For more information on army cutworm moths or other insects, contact the Ford County Extension Office.