There are many types of moths which can become a nuisance around outside lights. Commonly known as Miller Moths, there are actually many different species which appear during the warmer months of the year. The scope of this article is not intended to identify these species nor offer in depth biological information about any one type. Instead, we will concern ourselves with why these flying insects are a problem in and around the home and then offer ways to control local infestations.
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MILLER MOTH BIOLOGY
Miller Moths started to become a problem for man as soon as we began taking artificial light outside. This was done for much the same reason it is done today; light enabled people to see outside when it was dark. Though street lights rarely create problems involving moths, entrance lamps, patio and doorway lighting along with any decorative lights placed just outside the home, can become the focal point of a never ending supply of night time flyers. Such flyers include mosquitoes, gnats, katydids, wasps, beetles and mayflies. However, the most common nuisance night time flyer is undoubtedly the Moth.
Similar to butterflies, moths are actually the adult stage of an insect which hatched from an egg. The first stage is a worm or caterpillar which generally can be seen early in spring. Many species will readily infest gardens or specific plants and after getting their full of required vegetation, they will spin a cocoon in which they change or undergo metamorphosis. This change can take a week, a month or maybe even a whole year. In the end, the cocoon will hatch the adult moth which takes to wing and flies about the night sky. Many local moths around the world acquired the nickname “Miller Moth” because they have a powdery dust-like material on them which reminded people of the dust found on the clothing of the local Miller.
MILLER MOTH PROBLEMS
Virtually all moths are attracted to light. In nature, moths use the light of the stars and moon as a way to navigate. They typically fly with the light of the sky always above them. This gives them the ability to sense their direction and path. However, when man made light is present, it will usually overpower the moon and stars. This brighter light will draw the attention of any passing moth which is when the “confusion” begins. Moths will then fly toward the artificial light believing it is the natural light from the sky. As it flies past the light, the light will keep getting behind the moth. This will cause it to turn back over and over again in a never ending effort to get the light above it.
The moths believe they must have this light positioned above them in order to navigate properly and have no idea the light is man made. This should help explain why you see moths flying around and around outside lights. They are simply confused and though they mean no harm, they can be very annoying and bothersome. Since many species live for long periods of time, you could be attracting moths which will come around your porch light every night and eventually decide to make this area their home.
MILLER MOTH REPRODUCTION
Since moths rely on their sense of smell for mating and reproduction, one moth active around a light will generally lead to several. This is because the pheromone of any one female moth is very strong and can attract males for miles. If you get a female moth flying and banging up against the side of your home, her scent could persist for weeks and months long after she is either gone or dead. This scent will many times attract males with one thing on their mind. So strong is this urge that they will literally “camp out” waiting for her to return. Expect to see moths hiding in cracks along house siding, under the light fixture and up under the soffits of the overhang. Spot lights which are placed high up under soffits offer all the protection any moth needs from the rain and wind and most find this area quite comfortable.
Unfortunately, such populations will often times lead to mating and egg laying right on the building. If there is a ready supply of vegetation close by, expect the moth larva to start feeding on it as soon as they hatch. This could turn out to be some prized flower or shrub so in general you don’t want moths laying eggs on and around the home.
MILLER MOTH TREATMENTS
Once you start getting moths spending their days roosting on the side of your home, expect to find some finding their way inside. Common areas where they will start to appear will be in garages, mud rooms, patios and crawl spaces. Though seemingly harmless, their roosting will almost always lead to mating and egg laying. Furthermore, their wing dust can create a mess. Many people have allergies to this dust and high levels in living areas should be avoided. And since their young will forage on such a wide range of common household fibers and fabrics, damage from hatching larva could occur most anywhere in the home. For these reasons, it is best to keep outside populations to a minimum. This can be accomplished with a wide range of products. The key is identifying which one is best suited for your application needs.
MILLER MOTH YARD SPRAY
For mild levels of activity, there are two types of aerosols which will provide good control. PT565XLO is a good material for treating the air where moths are flying. It will provide a quick knockdown of any moths which are flying around and is an excellent choice for space spraying enclosed patios, garages, living rooms and other areas of the home where moths have been seen. It is safe enough to be applied with people in the home and re-entry time is just a few minutes. Though it won’t provide any residual, it can be applied daily or as needed. It can also be used outside for small areas. Since it will work on mosquitoes, gnats and other nuisance pests, 565XLO is a good product to start with when moths are flying around the yard and in general, not focused on one location.
LONGER LASTING AEROSOL SPRAY
If you need longer lasting residual action and prefer to use an aerosol, get PT-MICROCARE. This uses the same active ingredient as the 565XLO. However, the key difference is that it encapsulates the active so that it will provide residual. This is important when having to treat surfaces on which insects will be returning. Residual means you will have something around after you treat so that retreatments will not have to be quite as frequent.
Generally speaking, one application with Microcare should last about a week. Now understand PT-Microcare will not work as quick as the 565XLO when first applied, but after 30 minutes the results will be the same and because it’s longer lasting, for anyone that needs a simple aerosol to spray, Microcare is a good option. Like the 565XLO, PT-Microcare is very safe and people and pets can re-enter treated rooms within 5-10 minutes following a treatment or when the treatment dries.
One more aerosol you might consider is FLYING INSECT KILLER. It should be used like the 565 but it does have a fews subtle differences. First, it uses a different active which is more active on moths. Second, it is somewhat stronger and consequently has a slight more odor. Most importantly, its water based. This is a big difference from the other two oil based products. Water based aerosols are less likely to leave visible marks or residues and generally less likely to react with treated surfaces. This could be an issue if you are treating around sensitive fabric or other surfaces you don’t want to stain or change color.
Flying Insect Killer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/flying-insect-killer
MILLER MOTH LIQUID SPRAY
If you have large populations of moths congregating around the outside of the home and using the house to reside during the day, the use of liquid spray will provide better results. CYONARA RTS comes with it’s own hose end sprayer, can be connected to your garden hose and uses the power if your water faucet to spray. This means it can usually reach high and with Miller Moths, this can be important. Cyonara is odorless, works well on all species of moths and will last 3-4 weeks per application. This means you won’t have to apply it nearly as often as the aerosols.
Cyonara will go to work immediately killing moths immediately and can be applied to the turf, bushes, trees, house siding – basically anywhere you find activity. In most cases you will see an immediate reduction of local activity and far less moths coming around during the night. You will probably have to treat once every 2-3 weeks for the first month or so until local levels are reduced to a level you can tolerate and then monthly treatments should keep them in check.
If you have a lot of area to treat or want a spray that will last a lot longer compared to the Cyonara, get ONSLAUGHT. This product is very unique in that applications can last up to a year. Now this would be stretching it a bit but we have found that when applied to protected areas, you’ll no doubt get 6+ months of protection making it extremely effective for anyone that needs long lasting residual. Onslaught will work best when applied to non-porous surfaces but can be used on cement or any kind of house siding fine. And it works well on many pests too.
When homes are treated in the spring, its long lasting residual will provide moth control for the whole season and since it works on so many types of insects, perimeter invading nuisance pests will all be kept minimized following its use. It’s odorless too making it easy to work with. Use a regular PUMP SPRAYER to make the application.
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
MILLER MOTH CONTROL ZAPPERS
In addition to the chemical treatments which are detailed above, there are two types of mechanical controls which can help. The HAND HELD ZAPPER is a small device which is able to charge a large grid with electricity. Once charged, merely touching any moth will kill it on contact. This device is fun to use and takes the mess out of any quick kill when you have a nuisance moth that won’t go away. Just push the small activation button located on its handle and then place it over a moth which has landed or hold it out where one is flying. Once the targeted insect touches the grid it will become paralyzed and die in a moment. Clean up is easy. Just dump the carcass in the garbage or out in the yard for recycling. Since the Hand Held Zapper is a great tool for Mosquitoes, Wasps, Bees, Roaches and Spiders, it has many uses in and around the home.
Hand Held Zapper: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/electric/hand-held-zapper
The second option is to install one of our traps. Since Miller Moths are attracted to light, there are two special traps that have been designed to deal with them when they start to nest around the home. Since the traditional “bug zappers” don’t have enough electrical power to get through the protective dust covering found on Miller Moths, a more direct killing approach was needed. Our 12 VOLT INSECT LIGHT TRAP were created for just this need. They feature spinning heavy monofilament which will shred insects attracted to the light. If you have standard power nearby, the 110 volt is wired and ready to go. Just plug it in, hang it out and keep all other lights out to get the maximum effect. Local moths will forage over and get chopped up as they fly near the light. You may want to set a box or garbage pail under the trap if you have a lot of moths around the property and anticipate a lot getting killed. This will make cleanup easy. If you don’t have a ready supply of power, the 12 volt unit may be better suited for you needs. Either will help to reduce this pest dramatically making for a lot less of them hanging around and nesting.
12 Volt Flying Insect Trap: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/electric/flying-insect-trap-12-v
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