Wet spring helps fuel Albuquerque’s massive moth influx

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They’re big, pesky bugs that are thriving around the metro this year. 

With a wet spring, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the moth for Albuquerque, and experts you can expect see a lot more of them as the weather continues to warm. 

“They’re here every year, they’re just rarely this abundant,” said bug expert Jason Schaller of this year’s moth surge. 

Schaller is the curator of entomology for the BUGarium inside the Albuquerque BioPark’s Botanic Garden. He says it’s no surprise that moths from the cutworm and armyworm caterpillars are showing up in big numbers this summer. 

“It is definitely what we call a boom year for this species of moth,” said Schaller. 

What’s behind the boom? Schaller says it’s mainly the rain. 

“A lot of pupae that were in the ground here survived really well because they didn’t get too cold and they didn’t get too dry,” said Schaller. 

As the weather warms up, the moths are hatching in droves. “Basically, lots of food, good conditions still, they have a much higher survival rate than a usual year,” said Schaller. 

On the upside, the weather this year has brought a lot of life to the city’s butterfly exhibit, but if you don’t like moths, there’s not much you can do but wait it out. More of them are expected to emerge throughout the summer nights. 

“It’s easier to fly on a warm night because they require their flight muscles to be a certain temperature in order to fly,” said Schaller. 

Typically, Albuquerque’s moths live for about a couple weeks as they lay their eggs for the next round. In recent history, Albuquerque has seen moths make a big comeback every seven to ten years, with the last surges in 2012 and 2003.

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