They’re everywhere! Finding ways to get inside homes, lining the sides of houses, and swarming around lights at night. The number one question last week from farmers, crop consultants, and home-owners was “what are the millers/moths flying around?” They are mostly army cutworm moths that are on their annual migration from the south. Usually they arrive in our area in May but everything this year seems to be about 2.5 weeks ahead of schedule. They can stay in the area for 2-3 weeks or as long as 6 weeks if cool, wet conditions occur. Hot, dry conditions will move them out of the area. While a nuisance, they are mostly a pest in wheat and alfalfa-so farmers with these crops need to be scouting. In alfalfa, we’re close enough to first cutting that I don’t anticipate needing an insecticide for it, but I do encourage you to watch regrowth for the second cutting as the larvae may be feeding by then. Since we’re not cutting wheat, be scouting it to ensure larvae aren’t causing significant damage. We may need to consider an insecticide treatment with fungicides this year in wheat when trying to protect the flag leaf. Some have been concerned that these are black cutworm moths and have been applying ½ rates of insecticides during corn planting. We don’t recommend this at UNL as these are army cutworm moths and don’t anticipate a problem to our corn crop from them. We recommend scouting once corn has emerged as it’s a better integrated pest management (IPM) strategy and saves you money not to needlessly apply insecticides on broad acres when black cutworm problems are typically patchy within certain fields every year.
For homeowners, if you have shrubs or bushy plants around your homes, you may notice more of these millers as they reside in these types of areas. There’s no chemical for controlling them. Some things you can do are change your outside lights from white to yellow and keep outside lighting to a minimum. Also caulking can help. Ultimately, they’re a short term nuisance and more information about their life cycle and management from Dr. Bob Wright, UNL Extension Entomologist, can be found at our UNL CropWatch Web site.