New Mexico Faces Moth Invasion

Brett Luna
Updated: May 12, 2020 06:42 PM
Created: May 12, 2020 06:38 PM

ALBUQUERQUE N.M.— Anyone who has been spending time outside or driving around late at night has probably noticed an uptick in moths around the state. 

“Every year you know in the colder months they move south or hibernate as caterpillars and then in the warmer months they complete their life cycle or migrate up and get a mix of both. This just happens to be a very abundant species that, especially when conditions are right, the numbers boom,” said Jason Schaller, curator of entomology at the BioPark.

Southeasterly winds moving up and bringing in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico have increased the humidity levels in the state. Combine that with the strong easterly winds that kick in around 8:45pm to 9:00pm and that’s when the radar really started to blow up with activity. All the activity is likely insects being picked up and blown by the wind, or in this case, lots of moths.

“My guess would be that they got caught in the wind and that conditions were ideal before the wind and a lot were in flight dispersing and foraging and then a big gusts comes through and picks up a lot of them at the same time,” Schaller said.

The most common species being seen right now is the army cutworm moth.  These moths tend to fly more at night and also prefer traveling more when it’s humid since they’re sensitive to losing water.

“They can cover up to 100 miles in just a couple of days and some individuals have been shown in the lab to stay airborne for 23 hours straight,” he said.

Schaller said the best way to keep moths out of homes is to turn on an outside porch light and keep inside lights off when it gets dark.