Miller Moths, Beetles, Oh My! The Deal With NoCo’s Infamous Bugs
Thankfully, Northern Colorado avoided the 2020 plagues of murder hornets and super termites, but we did get stuck with miller moths and the Emerald Ash Borer.
It turns out that we don't actually have an abundance of miller moths this year (despite what the moth graveyard in my garage suggests).
Rather, Northern Colorado has just had low numbers of the moths over the last few years, making 2020's migration seem particularly shocking.
"They're heading for the mountains, they're looking for nectar. In many years, there's nectar all around...when you have a year like this...we had a freeze on April 13, whacked flowers all over. So where they are concentrating is where there's bloom, which is our yards, irrigated yards," said Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, an entomology professor at Colorado State University, in our "Tuned In to NoCo" interview. "So, there's a normal number, but they're more in our faces this year because there's no other flowers for them to find outside the places where we live."
Dr. Cranshaw predicts that the moths will leave us alone in about three weeks time.
However, while we may not enjoy them, he noted that the moths are actually good for Northern Colorado's bird populations.
"This is a time when birds are looking for food, looking for insects, and it's very available," said Dr. Cranshaw. "The other nice thing it helps the birds with is it's distracting all the cats. Outdoor cats kill tons of birds, but in a year like this, they're just chasing miller moths. I think it's a double bonus to have miller moths if you like birds."
Unfortunately, there's another insect in Northern Colorado that won't be migrating away: the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that attacks ash trees.
An arborist detected the pest just outside of Fort Collins last month, and now it's here to stay.
"There have been efforts in the past to try to eradicate it and none of them have been successful. We're S.O.L. here," said Dr. Cranshaw. "It's the worst forest insect to have ever landed on the shores of North America."
But as daunting as that sounds, EAB attacks can be combated with treatments or tree removal.
If you have concerns about the EAB, Cranshaw recommends reaching out to the Larimer County Extension Office and the City of Fort Collins Forestry Division.
He also manages CSU's Insect Information website, where you can find more information about the EAB here.
To learn more about the Emerald Ash Borer and the miller moths in NoCo, listen to the full "Tuned In to NoCo" interview with Dr. Cranshaw below.
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