It pains me to remember how I thought of winter moths when I first moved to Rhode Island. I’d see them fluttering around leafy areas on the chilly nights of late fall, and I’d think, “How unusual to see moths at this time of year.” I thought that they were interesting.

But I also assumed that they were a local phenomenon. I didn’t know then that they were an invasive species. I wonder how many times my husband and I drove through those fluttering hordes, commenting on how their numbers had increased, without any realization of how awful that was.

Then our trees were decimated by caterpillars last spring, and I did some research. I found out that those moths came out at night to mate, and that from this activity would come the voracious caterpillars of spring. I now hate the sight of them.

Alas, there are so many to hate this year! We’ve learned from previous experience that we should leave the exterior lights off at this time of year, because the lights attract the moths. But one night we forgot. We turned on the light, and this is the scene that greeted my husband when he returned home.


He didn’t dare enter that way. He went around back to try the kitchen door, but that door had several dozen attached to it. He tried to keep them out as he entered, but some of them chased him inside.

The kids wanted to rescue the moths that had invaded our house. My husband and I shouted, “No, kill them!” The poor kids could not understand why we were being so bloodthirsty, because we usually gently catch bugs and release them outside.

But we weren’t going to play nice with winter moths, uh-uh. My husband vacuumed the beasties from the cabinets, walls, and ceiling. I watched with great satisfaction. I wish we had a vacuum cleaner big and powerful enough to suck up every last winter moth in Rhode Island!

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