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Heavy rains bring hordes of moths to Montana

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 10:24:54-04

Due to the summer season and warm climate, moths have made their return to Montana. But this season, there are even more of them.

Amy Grandpre, an urban horticulture assistant for Yellowstone County, said Thursday that the rising number of moths is related to the increased amount of moisture this season.

Grandpre says Montana has two types of cutworms, which is the beginning stage of a moth. Right now, the army cutworms are hatching and will soon be making their way to the Rocky Mountains.

“What they are going to do is go up there and eat nectar and so forth…it's actually a very important part of the food chain for bears,” says Grandpre.

Grandpre says they will return in late August to lay their eggs, which for one female army cutworm can mean up to 3,000 eggs.

In August, the army cutworm will also be joined by the second moth species, known as the pale western cutworm. Pale western cutworms only emerge from hibernation in August.

Grandpre says moths are attracted to the lights in our homes but avoid the sunlight as they are nocturnal insects.

“That causes quite a lot of problems because of course, at night, we have our lights on,” says Grandpre.

Grandpre detailed one good way to get rid of moths without having to deal with the mess. Fill a bucket with water and add dish soap. After adding the soap, froth up the water and put a high wattage light bulb about 3 inches above the water. When the moths hit the bulb, they should fall into the bucket and drown.

Grandpre says that other ways of preventing the moth from setting up shelter in your home include keeping windows and doors shut and sealed.

Grandpre says that if people are interested in learning more about the life cycle of both moth species, to give the Yellowstone extension office a call at (406) 256-2828. She say that upon request, they can send you bulletin with more information on the species.