'Thousands and thousands' of moths invade Quebec town
TORONTO -- While Quebecers are accustomed to shovelling in the winter, an eerie discovery in a small town in the province's northwest had some residents taking them out much earlier than expected.
The people of La Sarre, about eight hours outside of Montreal, found themselves cleaning up piles of moths, both living and dead.
The insects had swarmed the town in herds, dangling from lampposts and buildings and leaving a local car dealership with a ton of cleaning to do.
“There were thousands and thousands of them, even close to a million the way I see it,” the deputy director of Nicol Auto Inc., Francois LaFleur, told CTV News.
Staff at the dealership said the moths swarmed the area in clusters, looking like clouds in the sky. LaFleur said the insects took over the dealership as they planted themselves onto rows of new vehicles.
The dealership needed all hands on deck to get rid of the pesky critters as managers, technicians and other employees worked to clean up hundreds of moths. LaFleur said they used water and shovels to try to remove all the insects, however they still couldn’t keep up.
He said there were so many of them they "even brought a winter (snow) loader" to help.
Just removing the moths wasn't the only problem, however a pungent stench LaFleur described as "really like fish" was another challenge the cleanup crew had to endure.
Entomologists have identified the bug as the large aspen tortrix, which are most commonly found in Ontario followed by Quebec.
While the moths mainly reside in large swaths of forest, they are attracted to big commercial lights in search of breeding grounds. Though the sight of swarming insects can be alarming to many, experts say they are mostly harmless.
"It's dispersed fear in the population but we have to be aware that there is no need to worry too much about the species. It's natural. It's actually a species that we can find in many areas," an entomologist at the Université de Montréal, Etienne Normandin, told CTV News.
It’s unclear why there were so many moths this season, but the government of Ontario said outbreaks of the species are common and can last two to three years.