City Cast

What’s The Deal With Miller Moths?

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on May 17   |   Updated on June 6

Worse than allergies and bad weather, a Colorado spring brings — *gulp* — miller moths.

Why are they here? Every spring through summer (roughly May through June) miller moths migrate from the Great Plains west to the mountains in search of nectarous, flowery food. That migration path crosses right over metro Denver, where the moths look for dark, preferably damp, pitstops — aka your patio furniture, car doors, window shutters, and any other tiny crack or crevice that seems cozy.

Can they cause harm or damage? They’re completely harmless. (But don’t ask about the time I leapt from a moving vehicle when one popped out of the dashboard vent.) In fact, moths are a pollinator species as critical to the ecosystem as honeybees and butterflies. Plus, birds, bats, and bears rely on them as a food source. So before you go on a moth-murdering mission, experts urge you to consider the catch-and-release approach.

This year is especially mothy, right? It’s hard to say. While an exceptionally wet winter means lusher feeding grounds for moths, it also means the moths will be more evenly spread out. In a drought year, you’ll find moths are more concentrated in damper areas.

How can you keep them away?

  • Moths are attracted to light. (They use the moon to orient their migration journey.) So keep outdoor lights off when possible, and close your window curtains or blinds at night.
  • They like to hide in tiny nooks and crannies, so keep a tidy patio. Clutter may as well be a tiny moth motel with a “vacancy” sign.
  • Set a trap. Try the old soapy-water-bucket-under-a-lightbulb trick.
  • If you’re trying to lure one out of hiding or scare it into flight, moths are especially reactive to the jingling keys or the rattle of a tin full of coins.
  • Encourage a feline friend to embrace its natural instincts. (This is a tried-and-true method for me.)
  • Do NOT use an insecticide. They have little to no effect on moths.

Bonus: Here’s one way we managed to have fun with miller moths

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