Armies of Armyworm moths

Spring of 2001 might well go down in history as the year of the moth. Huge swarms of dusty colored moths seemed to appear everywhere. The explanation of this phenomenon is simple: The invasions of armyworms and cutworms into the Midwest that caused damage to crops and turfgrass earlier this spring manifesting itself as a flush of brownish-dray, night-flying moths. These moths are especially active in the early evening hours where they fly from vegetation across roads, lawns and toward porch lights.

Some are concerned about the thousands that are "splatting" on car windshields (motorcyclists have a bigger concern), while others are concerned about the numbers that are finding their way into homes, and still others are concerned about the thousands that are resting on trees and other vegetation during the day. Rest assured that these moths are not the damaging stage of this insect. They do not bite people nor damage homes or plants. They are mostly just a nuisance pest because of their high numbers right now.

We expect their numbers to decrease dramatically after about 10 days or two weeks [by early July]. It is not possible to predict whether a second generation will appear, but all reports suggest that, if so, it will not be nearly as large as the present generation. Reports from the agriculture industry are that the caterpillars are already dying from naturally occurring diseases and parasites. Allowing these controls to continue will help assure that the next generation will be moderate. Until then, be patient, keep doors and windows screened and porch lighst off unless needed, and recognize that the moths are not a health threat (unless you ride a motorcycle).

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