Eighty-two, 17, and six

By: 
Amy Menerey

These are the numbers that have occupied my thoughts in the last day: 82, 17, and six. They come from the Great Miller Moth Invasion of 2022, which is currently being played out within our home, shop, and shed. 

Why are there so many moths this year? From everything I have read while researching online, it has mostly to do with a mild winter. 

The “Miller moth” is the adult stage of the army cutworm which feeds on nectar in late spring through early fall. During warmer months the moths migrate to higher elevations. These gray/brown insects are actually beneficial in the pollination process, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying — especially when they show up in droves like they have this year. I, for one, am not impressed.

Eighty-two is the number of moths that are in the room that is under construction above our garage – now dead because I sprayed the piss out of them with flying insect killer. The brand-new window in there is covered in what can only be moth doo-doo. Blech!

In my entryway, there are now 17 zombie moths (because sometimes you think they are dead, but they just like to roll over on their backs and pretend, only to jump up and surprise you later). 

And finally, six. Six is the number of moths that have decided to land in my hair in the last three days. I know that they are attracted to light, especially at night, and my only explanation for this fascination with my hair is that while sitting under a light my now-white hair must glow and confuse them. Cue panic mode that includes lots of swearing, jumping around and swatting at my head. I do not like bugs in my hair, I do not like them anywhere.

The good news, according to the Colorado State University Extension office (where they are apparently migrating from — the state, not the extension office), is that outbreaks typically only last five to six weeks. However in warm, dry years moth migrations have been seen from late April through July in Colorado, Wyoming and surrounding states. Blech! 

I admit I haven’t lived out in the country for quite some time, but in the four years I have been here (eight beautiful acres just across the Wyoming border in South Dakota), I have never seen an invasion of this magnitude. 

According to my research, insecticides will definitely kill them, but my attempt to “Dexter” them will only be thwarted by new ones migrating into the area — I must admit right here and now that that’s not going to stop me from going on a killing spree. While every website I perused told me that Miller moths are essentially harmless, I will not be putting out the welcome mat.

The last Wyoming “invasion” I read about was in 2020, and I do recall seeing quite a few that year. It did not compare to the total takeover of my living spaces that I am seeing this year, though. 

In yet another example of the Great Miller Moth Invasion of 2022, I opened the shed door yesterday afternoon to look for something. What happened next was like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie — those sleeping critters suddenly erupted out of there, surrounding me, flying in all directions, landing on me. Nope, sorry. You get the Raid treatment. 

I have not gone back in to inspect the carnage. I am quite certain they are just faking being dead — like their cousins Fred and Lucinda in the entryway — and will rise once again, multiplying in the process, before I am brave enough to enter again.

They flutter past my face, and I can hear the little beasts at all hours of the day and night, tap, tap, tapping on the windows: “Help, let me in (or out)! I want to make a nest in your hair!” I just have to draw the line at bugs in the hair — a country girl I am not. 

Eighty-two, 17, and six dead moths are going into my trash can today. I am certain there will be more added to the death toll tomorrow. And, yes, I did count them all.

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