ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Moths are descending upon the Albuquerque area, and exterminators say the phones are ringing off the hook with people trying to figure out what to do about the swarming critters.
Experts say we are seeing a major emergence of what is known as Miller moths this year. They say there are many factors that affect how severe a moth’s emergence will be, but the temperate winter and spring are probably why there are so many.
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“People are freaking out. They’re saying things like, you know, ‘I open the door and 50 moths are coming in. They’re flying all over my face. Are they invading my home?’ You get a lot of different, pretty emotional, visceral reactions to these bugs,” said Mike Swanson, commercial division manager at Preventive Pest Control in Albuquerque.
“They fly at you, at least it seems like they do. And really, they’re just scattering; we’re in the way, right? So, it feels like they’re coming at our faces, and it feels kind of predatory. It feels aggressive. But it’s not,” Swanson said.
The bugs in question are miller moths, also known as the Army Cutworm. “Some people say it’s because the powdery scale on their wings reminds them of flour. Some people will say it’s because they mill around the lights,” Swanson said.
“This one is a common one in the western states, in the western plains,” said Jason Schaller, curator of entomology at the Albuquerque BioPark, “We see them here in the southern states first and then they eventually end up in the northern states and up into Canada and at that point there’s a ton of moths and they’re a very important food source for a lot of animals including bears.”
In fact, Schaller said, they’re extremely nutritious. “They’re very calorie rich. They have tons of fat reserves in them. And I’m not sure if this still stands today but there were studies showing that they were the most high-calorie insect per gram or highest calorie food item per gram known of any other animal food product.”
The good news, Schaller said, is that they’re completely harmless, and exterminators agree. “They are not going to eat anything in your home, they’re not going to lay eggs in your home. All they want to do is find some shelter as they’re moving their way across this part of town,” Swanson said.
The bad news? There’s not much you can really do about them. “You could spray an unreasonable amount of pesticides on your home and it’s really not going to make a difference,” Swanson said, “Really, the best thing you can do is if it’s reasonable, turn your porch light off for the next couple of weeks. Give them less of a reason to hang out by your door.”
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous: “They’re super healthy, you should eat some too. I recommend if people don’t like them, eat them,” Schaller said.
According to experts, these moths should be moving on in the next couple of weeks.