Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Plague


Every Northerner knows warm, snow-free winters don't come cheap. Somewhere down the road Mother Nature extracts payment for her generosity. This year she's charging by the moth.

Normally the moths don't invade until July, sometimes even August, but here it is only June and they're everywhere. I stop at a stoplight and they bounce off my car windows, trying to get in. Ride shotgun on my rearview mirror on the off chance I decide to roll down a window. I open the gas cap door, half a dozen fly out. They drop out of the eaves of my office building and into my hair I stumble past in my usual morning daze. Honestly, it's starting to get to me.

Last Thursday was the worst. First we stopped to get the mail. When my son opened the box and stuck his hand in, at least twenty moths blasted out in his face, sending him screaming. Several managed to fly through the open car door and proceeded to harass us all the way home, where we found the porch door open. Uh-oh.

And no, it wasn't my husband or my kid who was to blame. It's the dog. She figured out how to open our lever-style door handles and let herself in. This is problematic on two accounts. First off, my parents have them, too. During calving Max would go out when my husband went to check cows at the crack of dawn, but peel off and head over to my parents house where she went in through the dog door, let herself into the dining room, then trotted down the hall and jumped in bed with them. Bad enough if she did it on the way to the barn. Even worse if she did it after tromping through the mucky cow lot.

Second, she doesn't shut the door behind her, which is why my husband has had to remove an angry robin and a very large, very flustered grouse from our porch so far this spring. And now the moths.

Come dark on Thursday night we turned on a few lights and the moths began to emerge. First just one or two. Then a handful. Then more. And more. Flapping around the lights, bouncing off the windows, crawling up the curtains. The plastic cover on the bathroom fan was a mass of black bodies. I flailed at them with the fly-swatter while Greg hustled from room to room waving the shop-vac wand and the kid ran around shrieking, "Get them out!"

Then I looked out the window into the porch and gave a blood-curdling shriek of my own.

During that time the dog left the door open, every moth for a hundred mile radius had moved in. Hundreds of them. Even the dog was freaked out, hunkered down so deep in her bean bag chair all I could see was the tip of her nose.

I couldn't leave the moths in there, couldn't open the door to go shoo them out without dozens slipping into the house. We were trapped.

Aha! I'd sneak out through the little back mudroom and go around. I opened the back door. Whoosh. I shrieked again as a cloud of moths whizzed by my head, only a fraction of what had congregated in the back porch. I slammed the door again, beginning to feel like I'd wandered into a Hitchcock movie. The moths are almost as big as birds this year, and when I finally did slip out and open the porch window to release the masses a couple of swallows swooped past my head, snatching up moths as fast as they could.

The next night was better, though, after we locked the dog out of the front porch and fixed the screen door on the back. We thought we were winning. Then we got in the camper to go to a rodeo for the weekend and the circus started all over again. Every sleeping bag, pillow and seat cushion I touched spit out moths. There was even one in my boot.

I'm so paranoid now I attack every dark spot I see. I've tried to beat several knotholes on our wood paneling to death. Attempted to vacuum a birthmark off my husband's neck (and yes, a shop vac actually can give you a hickey). Have taken to opening cupboard doors with the broom handle (it's not as easy as you'd think).

My nerves are shot, so you might want to be careful what you're wearing if you get too close to me. And please don't punch me if I swat you on the head with this newspaper. I was trying to save you from that brown barrette in your hair.

*

8 comments:

Megan Coakley said...

Two hates moths. HATES them. I could show him this post to prove that our circumstances aren't that bad, because on any given night there are only about a dozen of them flying around our front door. But he'd probably have nightmares since we're leaving for Yellowstone in ten days. Maybe I'll explain that Montana moths only breed up north...yeah, that sounds plausible!

Darlene Underdahl said...

http://darlene.underdahl.net/?p=109

Maybe some of this will be helpful...

Linda G. said...

Ugh. Sounds awful. Still, not as bad, I'd wager to say, as the stinkbug invasion we had here last summer. I am sincerely hoping we don't get a rerun this summer.

Gayle Carline said...

I feel your pain. I was unfortunate enough to be at my brother's place in Illinois when the beetle hordes attacked. Little, flying, armored tanks sticking to the car, the windows, your clothes, the walls of the house, everything. My sister-in-law at one point became so desperate, she wandered from room to room with the vacuum cleaner, sucking the little devils up with the upholstery wand.

eeewwww.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Megan: My coworker's son is like Two, and last week a moth flew up in his face, got caught up in the hood of his sweatshirt and flew IN HIS EAR. His dad came outside to find him stomping his shirt to death in the yard.

Linda: No. Please. Keep the stink bugs. At least the moths only reek when they get caught in the bug zapper. *sizzle sizzle pop*

Gayle: SHOP VAC rules. The only way to deal with bugs. Especially the kind that flock to light fixtures, where swatting can lead to unfortunate incidents involving glass shards.

midnightblooms said...

*shudder* I know moths are mostly harmless, but ick. Here we've been battling the common black house fly. We finally repaired the back door screen so the flies are not getting in the house, but take any food outside and swarms of them appear.

Chef E said...

Hadn't thought about moths and mother nature. I have seen some big ones lately, and complaints from others.

Love your photos and site. Found you via twitter-

Elizabeth Akin Stelling
Cowboy Poetry Press
(I wear many hats these days LOL)

Carol said...

Miller traps. They're mighty gross, but highly effective. Place a pan full of soapy water in your sink and turn on a small lamp next to it. Go to bed. Wake up to a disgusting pan full of drowned moths. Good for ruining your breakfast appetite. Argue with hubby who gets to pitch the water over the fence. Enjoy the satisfaction of killing the little buggers.