When will this moth horror movie end? And how can we survive?

Plus three ways to help you win the war against the moths.
3 min. read
I found this dead miller moth in my house. May 20, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

If you've already found yourself chasing moths around the house asking, "Why me?!" ... you're not alone.

We can't help you catch them. We can't help you stop them.

But we do have some answers to strengthen your defenses.

So, if you're up against an eclipse of moths - yes, that's what a group of moths is called, perhaps because they blot out the sun and joy - we have what you need to know.

Why are they here?

The short answer: It's personal.

The long answer: Miller moths are a species of moth that migrate west toward Colorado from the Great Plains every spring through summer.

But they don't just fly west; they also fly up, which makes Denver "prime real estate" - be it if you live in a house, a high rise apartment or the mountains.

So, in a phrase, no one is safe.

Is it worse this year?

Short answer: Oh, baby. Yes.

Long answer: That's according to Bob Hancock, a biology professor at Metropolitan State University who studies insects.

Hancock thinks Denver will see a particularly high volume of moths this season.

Gulp. Double gulp.

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But why? Why now? Why me?

Short answer: Because you haven't yet atoned with the cosmos.

Actual short answer: Blame the snow.

Long Answer: Hancock blames all the snow this past winter and the lush, wet spring. Miller moths are "nectivorous," which means they feed on nectar from plants.

"The larvae, the caterpillars, they eat an awful lot of tender green plant material," Hancock said. "There's a lot of Miller moths that came out of their winter slumber and found an incredibly lush feeding opportunity."

How can we fight back?

Short answer: Resistance is futile.

Actual answer: We have three tricks to share with you.

  1. Hancock said the moths dislike daytime. They're "negatively phototactic." He recommends turning off outdoor lights that might attract them to your once peaceful abode. "A dark house is a better house to avoid the masses that you could get at this time of year," Hancock said. The masses indeed.
  2. A neat trick he suggested: Wiggle your door handles before opening - especially doors that head outside ... or to the dreaded moth mothership that is your garage. This way the eclipse of moths waiting to swarm and pounce once you open the door might scatter away and give you chance at escape.
  3. He also suggested limiting clutter outdoors at night. Moths enjoy wedging themselves into crevices, a behavior called "thigmotaxis." Lovely. "Take off the cushions and pillows off of your outdoor furniture," Hancock said. "You want to limit the cracks and crevices."

The abundance of moths might be frustrating, especially when they make their way inside. But, Hancock reminded, there's an upside to the lush environment feeding the moths.

"Our state's just beautiful right now," Hancock said.

He may be right.

Too bad I'll be under the blankets, hiding.

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