Updated on

Get Ready for Moth Week!

White-lined_Sphinx Moth (Photo courtesy of Eric Carpenter)

National Moth Week is July 20-28, 2019

Yes, July in Texas is hot. But life goes on in our prairies. Summer is a good time to observe the insects and reptiles that live there. Evenings can be very interesting. Why not start with moths? National Moth Week is a worldwide Citizen Science event, held during the last full week of July. This is a chance for everyone to contribute observations about our moths. Check out nationalmothweek.org.

White Spring Moth, Southern Purple Mint Moth and Black-shaded Platynota. (Photos courtesy of Kelly Walker.)

Why Moths?

  • Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
  • Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
  • Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage. They come in a wide range of sizes and shapes.
  • Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen – others fly like butterflies during the day.
  • Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.

Finding Moths

Here are some tips from nationalmothweek.org:

Set up lights

  • Any type of light will attract moths. Just leave a porch light on and wait and see what is attracted to it. If you are in the field, you can use battery-operated lights or even a flashlight. Entomologists use black lights and mercury vapor lights, which emit light in a color spectrum that moths find irresistible.
  • Moths need a surface to rest on. White sheets are often used. Hang a sheet and shine the light on it. An outside wall also works well if your light is set up near a building.
  • Wait for the moths to come to your light so you can observe and photograph them.
This editor enjoyed sharing a bit of her beer with a local moth. (Photo by Kirsti Harms)

Sugaring for moths

  • Moths can smell food from a distance. When provided with fermented sugar and fruit, they will fly right to it. This method of attracting moth is simply called ‘sugaring’.  Read more about sugaring for moths ….
  • Make “moth food” A mix of sugar, fruit (banana, peach or other overripe fruit) and beer will work. Try Dave’s not-so-secret recipe.
  • Brush the mix on a surface an hour before dusk.
  • Check every 30 minutes to see what’s coming to the bait.

Have a party!

Invite your family and friends to join you for a mothing party. If you are mothing with children, check out the kids page for more ideas.

Join the Houston Chapter for Moth Night at Lawther-Deer Park Prairie. Read more