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Swarms of Miller moths flutter in to bug Mountain Home AFB

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho - Miller moths have begun arriving at Mountain Home Air Force Base. The most common miller in Mountain Home is the army cutworm, so called because of the way they congregate in army-like groups and "march" across fields or highways in large numbers. The adult Miller moth doesn’t feed or lay eggs during their migratory flight so there is no threat. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Deborah Lockhart)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho - Miller moths have begun arriving at Mountain Home Air Force Base. The most common miller in Mountain Home is the army cutworm, so called because of the way they congregate in army-like groups and "march" across fields or highways in large numbers. The adult Miller moth doesn’t feed or lay eggs during their migratory flight so there is no threat. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Deborah Lockhart)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho - Miller moths have begun arriving at Mountain Home Air Force Base. The most common miller in Mountain Home is the army cutworm, so called because of the way they congregate in army-like groups and "march" across fields or highways in large numbers. The adult Miller moth doesn’t feed or lay eggs during their migratory flight so there is no threat. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Deborah Lockhart)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho - Miller moths have begun arriving at Mountain Home Air Force Base. The most common miller in Mountain Home is the army cutworm, so called because of the way they congregate in army-like groups and "march" across fields or highways in large numbers. The adult Miller moth doesn’t feed or lay eggs during their migratory flight so there is no threat. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Deborah Lockhart)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- It's miller time. Miller moths are hovering around lights, flying up against screens and causing a nuisance as they head for the mountains in search of their lifeblood: nectar. They're as much a sign of spring as the waking black bears or the snowmelt runoff.

Miller moths are any moths that congregate near buildings and people, where they buzz relentlessly inside horizontal blinds and send mottephobes -- those who fear the moths -- running for cover.

"The Miller moth is the adult to the army cutworm, the army cutworm is a caterpillar insect that infests crops and since Mountain Home AFB is surrounded by crop lands we tend to get mass amounts of the Miller moth," said David Ash, 366th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management shop foreman. "The moth is in a migratory flight and it flies by the light of the moon, but the light from the base interferes with their flight pattern."

Thousands of years ago, when they were evolving, there weren't any artificial sources of light. There was nothing to compete with the moon.

During warm months the Miller moths migrate to higher elevations as they seek flowering plants. Areas close to the mountains receive moths that may have migrated well over a hundred miles en route to summer feeding sites.

"The moth flies at night and rests during the day," said Mr. Ash. "They will rest in cracks and crevices and this includes in our offices and work stations. They become a nuisance because when we turn on the light they start flying around the office and bother us."

The adult Miller moth doesn't feed or lay eggs during their migratory flight so there is no threat, they are just a nuisance. The moth will eventually find their way outside, but if not they eventually will die. Insecticides have little or no effect in controlling the moth.

"Any moths killed will be rapidly replaced by new moths that migrate into the area nightly, there is nothing we can do about it," said Mr. Ash.

Fighting Back
Miller moths are harmless but annoying. Here are tips to get rid of the moths.

- Make sure all doors and windows are secure. Moths tend to come out after 5 p.m., so make sure all doors and windows are closed by then. Repair tears in screens.

- Minimize household lighting. Try to keep the porch light off.

- Don't waste insecticide. Moths seem to shrug off the chemicals.

- Place a lighted candle in a pie plate of water or place a bucket of soapy water underneath a bright light bulb. For example, remove the shade from a lamp and put the lamp on the floor. Leave the bucket nearby. When the moths fly into the bulb, they bounce off, fall into the water and drown.

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