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Despite This We Stay for May 10th, 2012

by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO — It’s miller (moth) time. Time for millions of migrating army cutworms in their “looking-less-creepy” stage to get drunk on lilac nectar and harass people who are just minding their own business. You might find one in your shoe. One might come barreling out of your food pantry. There could be one hiding in your shower or under the pillow on your bed. You might open the barn door and hundreds will mob you like bats flying out of a cave at sundown. It’s nothing personal. They’ve crawled into the space between the door and the frame and then obviously have forgotten how to get out. They have no respect for your personal space – ears, nostrils, hair, armpits, nothing is off limits to them.
This is a record setting miller moth year. Usually the cold weather brushes them back. But, between the warm early spring and the drought, they’re in a panic to get out of Iowa and Misery (oh, I mean Missouri) and flee to the mountains. In the distance they saw the lights of Huerfano County – all 50 of them – and they figured they’d stop over for a couple weeks and sample the local flora.
If the miller moths get into your house and you have a cat, brace yourself. Your usually docile and friendly kitty will become a red-eyed raving lunatic chasing moths. It will go to great heights (literally) to catch them. From the bookcase to the curtains to that pile of papers you’ve been meaning to file when you had a couple spare minutes (now spread all over the floor). Apparently the moths are tasty, because our cat eats them happily, wings and all. You’d expect to hear the cat gacking on wing powder, but she just licks her chops and looks for more. We’re saving a bundle on cat treats.
Although most cars contain no flowers or nectar, the moths still want to crawl inside and then usually spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out how to get out. You might sneak into the driver’s seat, get your door shut without one following you and think you have eluded them. But a few miles down the road, suddenly one will come blasting out of the defroster vent aimed right at your forehead. The moth then plays pinball with itself between your windshield, your face and the door. You might roll down the window while driving (I don’t advise this) and try to shoo the moth out the completely open window, but the brain-challenged moth will flee the gaping hole and slam itself into the windshield, eventually skulking back into the defroster vent.
If you are unlucky enough (or lucky, depends on how you look at it) to drive through a swarm of moths crossing the highway, they make a very distinct popping noise as they hit the windshield. They also make a creamy-yellow splatter that, once dried, may require expletives to remove. Each splatter is accompanied by a puff of moth wing dust, sort of like glitter for that finishing touch.
You can vacuum up the ones the cat doesn’t eat. But don’t bother trying to spray them with poisons – it has little effect and might even cause them to grow to gargantuan size and go looking for your cat. They are attracted to lights though. And if you put a bowl of soapy water below a light, eventually they will end up in it for some reason, even though, sadly, they simply cannot swim.