Moth Populations Rising in Northern Nevada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Moth Populations Rising in Northern Nevada

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You can find moths all over northern Nevada, this time of the year.  They are most common in places with lots of vegetation. Especially, flowers because they're feeding on the nectar and pollen.

Debbie Bennett has lived in her Spanish Springs home for 17 years, but she's never seen the amount of moths around her house as she's seen this year. "We've had moths on in the lawn that laid their larvae in there and they ate the roots," Bennett said. "So, we would get brown spots in the grass but never had them flying around like this. Never."

Bennett is finding moths under hoses, behind decorations, and in screen doors. A couple hundred of them found a hiding place on her son's fishing gear. "He has full waders and they were on the other side and he had just laid them overnight to dry," Bennett said. "And when he picked them up, they just all came out and we were all running and screaming."

Jeff Knight is the State Entomologist with the Nevada Department of Agriculture. He says the reason for the high populations is a result of a mild winter. "These big of numbers are maybe a little unusual but we've seen this before," Knight said. "It tends to be a little bit cyclic."

These moths are the adults of the army cutworm, an insect that is native to Nevada. Luckily, they're not a threat to gardens, crops, or clothing.   They're also a food source for animals like lizards and birds. "They're swooping," Bennett said. "They're getting them. And especially the little birds."

The moths are migrating to the higher elevations for the summer, where they will lay their eggs that will hatch this fall. "Most of these are probably going to be eaten or die up in the mountains or on their trip and back," Knight said. "So, we'll probably only see a small percentage of them come back."

In the meantime, you can do a few things to avoid the nocturnal creatures. "Try to avoid turning outdoor lights on at night, or at least change the color of the light to yellow or amber light that's less attracted to," Knight said.

Knight says if you're thinking about spraying, save your time and money. The moths you kill today will be replaced tomorrow. He says just be patient. They'll likely move up to the higher elevations within about ten days.

Written by Paul Nelson
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