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Flying Moths

Flying Moths

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This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

The plague is not ads intense as that depicted in the Mothman Prophecies but moths have invaded Utah. Not just a few but millions of moths of all kinds, colors shapes and sizes.

Many listeners have reported being inundated with these creatures. While they are causing a lot of concern, it is not the moths themselves that you have to worry about.

Most moths either do not feed or they feed only on the nectar of the flowers. It is the caterpillar or larvae stage that causes the damage.

Among the most prevalent are the army cutworm moths, also known as miller's moths. 'Miller moth' is the term given to any type of moth that is particularly abundant in and around homes. The name comes from the Fine scales that easily rub off cover the wings of all moths. These scales reminded people of the dusty flour that cover the clothing of one that mills grain.

The army cutworm get its name from the caterpillar stage. In high populations they have the unusual habit of banding together in army-like groups and may crawl across fields or roads in high numbers and attack gardens.

These pests over winter as larvae in the soil, primarily in fields. In the spring, caterpillars emerge to feed and complete their life cycle. Moths emerge in May or June, with the majority emerging during a very short period.

They migrate to higher elevations in the mountains to find food. Miller moths get distracted from their normal flight pattern by light at night in urban areas -- porch lights, security flood lights and street lamps.

Insecticides are not effective at controlling these pests. The best controls are to seal any openings in the home, reduce your outside lighting at night and guard doors as people come and go to prevent moth entrance.

Once inside a home, moths can be controlled with a fly swatter or vacuum cleaner. Keeping a light suspended over a bucket of water during the night also can trap moths. Other than that just wait as the insects die on their own in a few days.

Remember that these Insects are a nuisance, but pose no danger to humans, plants, clothing and fabric.

Diane Alston, Utah State extension entomologist attributes the large numbers of insects to the dry and warm Utah weather over the past few years. Dry weather is good for insects because moisture can kill them at various stages in their development.

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