The year 2020 has
brought a deep economic decline, the
coronavirus – might as well bring on
Miller moths – the adult stage of the
army cutworm – are being reported in
numbers not seen in Nebraska and Colorado
for at least five years, and up to
19 in some locations, according to Scott
Schell, University of Wyoming Extension
Wyoming towns are also being visited
as the moths follow the timing of
the flowering plants into the high country.
“I have talked to people around the
state, and the millers are very widespread
this year,” Schell said.
He said conditions for survival and
reproduction have been good the last
year or two.
Moth abundance in towns can be due
to dry conditions in the country with
few flowering plants to feed on at night,
he said. The moths are then drawn into
watered landscapes and towns to find
“I think there is a combination of
that going on this year,” said Schell.
“The eastern plains had more reports
of crop damage to alfalfa and winter
wheat caused by the miller moth larvae,
called cutworms, than usual. That was
followed up by dry conditions on the
sagebrush steppe and prairie producing
few wildflowers for the moths to gather
The starting point of miller migration
probably comes down to wind and
weather, he said. A cold front from the
north probably grounds the moths until
it passes, and warm breezes from the
south are the ticket to travel long distances
Schell recommends turning off outdoor
lights or switching to yellow insect
lights to minimize their annoyance.
“Checking your window screens and
weather seals for cracks big enough to
let them in and fixing them helps exclude
them when they seek out places
to hide for the day,” said Schell.
He advised checking screen doors.
“I also have a light I can turn on
away from my entry door to the house
on my attached garage, which acts as a
giant miller moth trap at night,” he said.
“The light draws the millers away from
Schell said miller moth numbers in
towns should taper off soon as the survivors
migrate to the high country.