Wednesday, June 17, 2009

it's miller time

i worked nights for a long, long time ... when i got off work each morning around this time of year there was an aerial ballet of birds (especially swallows) at intersections ... they would dive bomb toward the pavement and then swoop back up again with millers in their beaks ... watching their dance with miller death was mesmerizing ... and i don't have to tell you who i was cheering for ...... the ballet served as a warning that there were gonna be millers in the house ... i would psych myself up to not be afraid ... i'd swoosh them into a jar or shoo them to the outside with a broom or flyswatter ... no panic ... no screams ... no running in place ... i was a miller savior ... not because i'm a harm-no-thing kinda person, but because miller wing dust and miller body juice is nasty to clean up...
there was no warning this year ... and when the first miller of note arrived in the house, i was not prepared to be brave...

mom ... there's a miller in the kitchen

okay - you have two options - you can kill it and clean up the mess or you can catch it and take it outside

okay ... yeah ... not gonna happen ... so can you take care of it ... now?

oh, for pete's sake - you big baby ... get me a kleenex

she handed me a kleenex and i bravely approached the flying beast ... it never saw me coming and i swooped it up and decided not to take it outside because then it would just come back in and scare the beejeezus out of me again ... so i sqwushed the kleenex between my thumb and fingers...


in a split second, i processed the POP!!! with the fact that i had never heard that sound when sqwushing a miller before ... turned ten shades of green ... screamed like a little girl ... and threw the kleenex into the sink ... Auntia screamed ... which fed my fear and i screamed again ... the kitchen was a screamfest ... and then the impossible happened ... the sqwushed, POPPED miller flew up out of the sink toward me ... scream! scream! scream!! scream!! and it flew into an open cabinet ... Auntia's fight or flight response was decidedly flight - she zoomed across the house in the opposite direction and her screams turned into squeaks and whimpers ... i started taking glasses out of the cabinet and putting them in the dishwasher ... searching, searching, searching ... where is the little sonofamoth ... i was about to pick up another glass and saw it ... scream!

scream!! kill it!!! kill it now!!!

i can't - it won't die - i popped it and it didn't die - it's the flying dead!!!

scream!!! KILL IT!!!

meanwhile, the miller was hanging off the green coca-cola glass and fluttering its broken wings, trying to get away from the crazy women who wouldn't shut up ... i gulped down some air, reached forward with another kleenex ... grabbed the bug ... sqwushed the bug with all my might ... and then sqwushed it some more ... i slammed the wadded mess into the trash and tied up the bag - took it outside and threw it in the big trash can ... no funeral for that miller ... no tears ... and no words said over the grave ... just a whole lot of shuddering and gasping..

here's a link to what the experts have to say about millers ... it includes the following tips:

"Once in the home, the best way to remove the moths is to swat or vacuum them or to attract them to traps. A easy trap to make is to suspend a light bulb over a bucket partially filled with soapy water. (Always use a grounded plug and extreme caution when using any electrical device near water!) Some wetting agent, such as soap or detergent must be added or many moths will escape, the water beading readily off the scales of their wings and body. Moths attracted to the light often will fall into the water and be killed. Jingling keys or some other noise that induces evasive flight behaviors can sometimes dramatically speed the capture rate when using the soapy water trap."

jingling keys or some other noise that induces evasive flight?!?

"Do noises affect miller moths? Army cutworm moths are very sensitive to certain noises, making erratic flying movements in response. Among the sounds which elicit greatest response are jingling keys, dog tags, rattling coins, and crumpled pop cans. The likely reason for this is that certain frequencies are produced to which the moths are sensitive. Many moths make evasive movements in response to frequencies used by bats during echolocation of prey. Since bats are an important predator of night flying moths, rapid evasive movements are a means of protection."

and now we have proof that screams are an effective noise, too


  1. Perhaps you should just get yourself a pet swallow?!

  2. I couldn't have told the story any better. I am happy that you didn't get mad at me for screaming. It was great to see you laughing as hard as you did after the wee beastie was gone. You haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

  3. I remember Miller time well. My parents are from LaJunta & Cheraw and when we would go to the grandparents in the summer it would freak us out because we didn't have miller's at home. We do have moths, but not in the droves that I remember...funny story!