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It’s Time for Moth Week!

National Moth Week is July 18-26, 2020

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. (Photo above is an 8 Spotted Forester moth, courtesy of Chuck Duplant.)

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

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.

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.
This editor enjoyed sharing a bit of her beer with a local moth. (Photo by Kirsti Harms)

Mothing in your backyard!

Get together with your family for a homegrown mothing party. It’s a great activity to help introduce children to nature after dark. Check out the kids page for more ideas.

This year the Houston Chapter Moth Night at Lawther-Deer Park Prairie has been canceled due to COVID safety concerns. We hope to resume this in 2021.

Check out Rich Kostecke’s National Moth Week Facebook album.

Don Young posted the Magical Moths of Tandy Hills for a fascinating look at the diverse moths (and other residents) of this Fort Worth prairie.


1 Comment

Susie Aki · July 21, 2020 at 7:31 am

Very interesting. I see what I called a “pest” in a whole new light. Thank you.

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