Moths Are All Ugly and Brown – NOT!

Participate in National Moth Week and Explore the Wonders of Moths!

By Dave Moskowitz

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The Rosy Maple moth is either gaudy or stunning depending on your perspective. But with colors described as raspberry and lemon sherbet or a strange golden haired diva wearing bizarre velvet robes, it is unmistakable and isn’t easily overlooked. Dave Wagner from UCONN, a National Moth Week Science Advisory Board member and the author of the amazing book “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” notes “After the Luna Moth, this may be the runner-up with regard to garnering public interest in moths.”
Seeing the Rosy Maple moth never gets old. Every time I see one, I just can’t help but gawk and take photos. But I can’t decide if it is a beautiful stunning moth or a train wreck of strange colors and textures. Why evolution took it down this path is beyond me, but it is one of my favorites and always a pleasure to find.

This is the year that National Moth Week focuses attention on silk moths (Saturniidae). The Rosy Maple moth is the smallest of our silk moths in New Jersey. While the Latin name of this group of moths might not be familiar, many of the moths in this family will be, because it includes some of our largest and most striking moths like the Luna, Cecropia, Io (the logo moth of National Moth Week) and Promethea moths.

The adults of the Rosy Maple moth, like all Saturniids, lack moth parts and therefore don’t feed. Their entire adult life is devoted to reproduction. Because they only subsist on stored fats from the caterpillar stage, the adult life span is reported to be only about a week. So enjoy these beautiful moths when you see them, their adult life is fleeting.

As the name suggests the caterpillars of this moth feed on maples, but also on box-elder and on oaks. The Rosy Maple moth is relatively common in wooded areas around New Jersey. But they also visit the Mercury Vapor Light in my backyard in East Brunswick in a suburban neighborhood with large oaks. Are you moth’ing this summer? What wonderful moths might be in your backyard? Participate in National Moth week this summer and find out! Register your location at nationalmothweek.org and join the global moth adventure this summer.

Happy mothing!

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One Response to Moths Are All Ugly and Brown – NOT!

  1. Joanne Wells says:

    The Imperial Moth has her feelings hurt that she received no mention.

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