Miller Moths May Be Harmless, But They Could Be Staining Your Home

Imagine you're relaxing on your couch, and suddenly, a small, dusty moth flutters past your face. The tiny creature might not seem like much of a nuisance to begin with, but there is more than meets the eye, especially once it starts leaving strange marks everywhere. Meet the miller moth, an uninvited guest that might be causing more trouble than you think. 

Miller moths are the adult stage of the army cutworm, a type of moth that will hatch in states such as Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska before heading west into Colorado and surrounding states by way of mass migration. While their name might sound like something out of a horror movie, these moths are relatively harmless to humans. However, their presence in your home can be quite annoying, especially when they decide to take flight at the most inconvenient times or leave behind nasty brown stains.

In other words, miller moths are a nuisance pest, flying around your home or into your face and leaving a mess wherever they go, including dropping wing dust everywhere. This dust is actually where their name comes from, as the white powder closely resembles the flour a miller would produce. Even worse, the aforementioned stains appear when these moths come into contact with walls, curtains, and other surfaces. This reddish-brown staining is caused by meconia and is essentially waste produced during their pupal stage that is then deposited all around your house.

How to clean miller moth stains

If you've discovered miller moth dust or stains in your home, don't worry –- there are a couple of ways to clean them up depending on what surface they are found on. For dust on fabric surfaces, such as curtains or furniture, try using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently remove the dust and scales. If it's stained, you can use a mild detergent and water to blot the area, being careful not to rub too hard and damage the fabric. 

For walls and other hard surfaces where you might find meconia stains, a damp cloth with a bit of regular household soap or cleaners should do the trick. You essentially want to clean your interior walls the way you normally would, but pay attention to the brown marks in particular. These meconia stains shouldn't be too hard to remove, but if they have been there a while or are located on porous surfaces like unfinished wood, you could have a more difficult time cleaning up.

How to prevent miller moths from getting into your home

Miller moths are drawn to our homes during their migration, when they seek shelter in dark, safe places to rest during the day. Unfortunately, your cozy home fits the bill perfectly. Once inside, they'll often find their way into closets, attics, and basements, where they can remain hidden for long periods

These moths are attracted to light, so turning off porch lights is one way to make your home less attractive, or use a DIY bug trap to keep the creepy crawlies out. If they've already made it inside, try using a vacuum cleaner to gently capture and remove them. As they are not poisonous or venomous, you can also take the harsher route and smack them with a shoe or rolled-up newspaper and dispose of them that way.

To prevent future miller moth invasions, take some precautions around your home. Start by sealing any cracks or gaps around windows, doors, and other entry points. This will help keep not only moths but other insects out of your house as well. You might also consider using weatherstripping on doors and windows to create a tight seal. Lastly, remember to turn off outdoor lights or switch to yellow bug lights to reduce the attraction for miller moths.