Moth Evening – July 22: A National Moth Week Event

Moose Hill was delighted to have Steven Whitebread provide an evening all about the moths just a few weeks ago. This was the sixth year that National Moth week has been held and events like this evening help to engage “moth-ers” of all ages and abilities to learn about, observe and document moths while celebrating the beauty, life cycles and habitats of moths.

Thank you to Steven for sharing a little about the evening and some great pictures – we had no idea that there could be so many moths. It really is amazing what you find, and learn, when you take the time to look:

Moth Evening at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary by Steven Whitebread

Most people think that moths are those drab annoying things which come to porch lights at night and hide behind curtains during the day (and probably eat them). The first part of the evening was a presentation which gave a more complete overview of the world of moths (and mothing) demonstrating that moths are not all drab and are much more diverse and interesting than most people realize.

Next on the program was a tour around nearby tree trunks that had previously been treated with a sugar bait to attract moths. Christine Whitebread made some cup-cakes for the participants based on the ingredients used in the sugar bait (these were enjoyed by all)! Unfortunately, no moths were found on the bait, possibly because we were a little early in the evening and maybe the bait had dried out too much.

Two mercury vapor lights had been set up earlier on the South side of the main building, one against a vertical sheet together with a ‘black light’ and another in a ‘live’ trap. Moose Hill had a Family Camp-out happening that evening and after the families had returned from their walk, many joined us at the lights. The children especially enjoyed seeing not just the moths, but the other insects which were attracted by the lights: beetles, flies, wasps, ants, caddis flies, and plant hoppers to name just a few.

The last participants left about 11pm, by which time many species of moths had been seen. However, between 11pm and 1am many more species arrived especially several Sphinx moths and two species of silk moth – two Luna Moths and one Polyphemus Moth.

The night was forecast to be completely dry, but a few sprinkles started after about an hour and then, after midnight, a couple of showers passed through. The lights were therefore packed away by 2am.

So far 119 species of moth have been identified, with probably about another dozen still to be identified. Two species appear to be new to the Massachusetts list, but need confirmation – both feed on Hickory. Here are a few that we saw that night:

And, to round out the evening, around midnight, a Barred Owl slowly passed by to the South, calling occasionally.

Mark your calendars now for National Moth Week 2018: July 21-29, and be sure to look for events like this so you too can become a “moth-er”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *