The Miller moth: adult stage army cutworms. Wing span of 1.5 to 2 inches. Every spring they ‘pass’ through Fort Collins, Colorado on their way to higher elevations and their nectar-laden feeding grounds. But as we have so nicely populated the area and planted such lovely gardens, they feel inclined to stay a while.
Our first spring here, ’99, was a good one – for them, not us! What an introduction to a famed and collective dread! If you are not in the know, in Colorado or a neighboring state, you might think I am a bit unfair. They don’t lay eggs til late summer, really just passing thru, sipping up the sweet nectar of a range of plants (mostly broad leaf and grasses), so no competition for me personally (not like moths that get into the pantry or woolens.)
So what is it I have against them you ask? How about the sheer number, in a good year, and I think this is the ‘best’ since ’99, that shoot out from the crevices when you open your door in the morning, take your mail out of the box or move a potted plant – 20-30 at a time, no problem. Better yet, when you pull one from your jeans pocket because you didn’t shake them out well enough from the warm-from-the-sunshine clothing you’ve hung out on the wash line (after leaving their brown dust marks). Best for last though – when they hit you in the face before you can get a window open as you defenselessly drive your car. Yechhh! Don’t believe me? Click here for a news report/video: Miller moths blamed for fiery crash
Oh, did I forget to tell you about their incontinence? The marks left on your walls, windows and draperies if indeed you managed to let some in the house? Ah, but to some dogs they provide a protein-packed treat, so there is that. But now the temperatures have dropped slightly, and it’s raining (finally), and they can’t move on. Just too cold for flying.
The only way we can deal with the lucky ones who come in from the cold is to creep up slowly and suck ‘em up with the vacuum cleaner. As my daughter says, “It’s an art.”