The Universe and Me

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Do we need 'em? : Miller moths

Taking a page out of Karl Pilkington’s soon to be published book. In a recent e-mail, Bo mentioned how over in CO they are being plagued with migrating miller moths. So I was wondering what made them different from other moths and if we in fact needed them. They were named after the scales on their wings which rub off easily and resemble flour. In caterpillar stage, they present a problem for spring crops as they’ll eat alfalfa, wheat, spinach, etc. But there is only bad damage during highly populous years. The adult moths seem to be merely a nuisance. When they die, the fat in their bodies turns rancid which creates a smell if they die in your house, but when alive they don’t eat fabric and don’t bite. As far as the ecosystem goes, they are food for carpet beetles and other household scavengers as well as bats, birds and even grizzly bears. One bear can consume forty thousand moths a day, the energy equivalent of seventy snickers bars. But it seems it would take the bear the entire day. The moth’s wing dust can provoke allergies. So do we need them? Bo says her cat is extremely entertained jumping around chasing these critters. So on behalf of bored cats everywhere, I say keep ‘em.


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