Dr. Kawahara: Bat-Moth Presentations in Philadelphia

For insect enthusiasts near the Philadelphia area, Dr. Akito Y. Kawahara, a  renowned entomologist, will be presenting in two locations on Wednesday, February 25, and Thursday, February 26. Both events are open to the public.


American Entomological Society Meeting:

When: Wednesday, February 25, 7:00 PM

Where: Ewell Sale Stewart Library, Second Floor, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Subject: “Moth Ultrasound and Bat Sonar Jamming: Collaborative Nocturnal Fieldwork in the Jungles of the Amazon, Borneo, and Africa.”

Additional Information: http://darwin.ansp.org/hosted/aes/mtgSched.htm


B.E.E.S. Seminar:

When: Thursday, February 26, 3:30—5:00 PM

Where: Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, Room 104, 3245 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Subject: “Phylogenomics and Behavior Uncover the Evolution of Bat-Moth Interactions.”

Additional Information: http://drexel.edu/bees/news/calendar/details/?eid=6529&iid=19972


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National Moth Week 2015: The Year of the Sphinx Moth

Happy New Year from the National Moth Week team!

While National Moth Week celebrates the diversity of all moths, we like to shine a light—literally and figuratively—on a certain family of moths. Last year, we celebrated the year of the Silk moth (Saturniidae).

This year, we are celebrating the family Sphingidae. Robust fliers with distinctive wing shapes, the sphinx moths consist of about 1,463 species world wide, with about 124 species in North America alone.

Recent research has found that Sphinx moths emit high-frequency clicking noises form their genitals in response to bat echolocation. It is thought these noises inhibit a bat’s ultrasonic senses. One of the moths used in the study was the Green-striped Hawkmoth (Cechenena lineosa). You can read more about this study here. This defense behavior has also been recorded in the tymbal organs of tiger moths (subfamily Arctiinae). lenny

Death’s Head Hawk Moth (Acherontia lachesis lachesis). Spotted by Lenny Worthington on Project Noah.

Edgar Allan Poe takes some artistic license, describing an encounter with a Death’s Head Hawk Moth (Acherontia sp.; normally found in Europe and Asia) in New York.

“‘Four membranous wings covered with little colored scales of metallic appearance; mouth forming a rolled proboscis, produced by an elongation of the jaws, upon the sides of which are found the rudiments of mandibles and downy palpi; the inferior wings retained to the superior by a stiff hair; antennae in the form of an elongated club, prismatic; abdomen pointed, The Death’s—headed Sphinx has occasioned much terror among the vulgar, at times, by the melancholy kind of cry which it utters, and the insignia of death which it wears upon its corslet.'”

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe), found by David Moskowitz of Bug Addiction – Confessions of a Bug Addict.

Sphinx moths are some of the most powerful fliers in the insect world, reaching speeds upwards of 53.6 kilometers per hour (over 30 miles per hour)!

Share your sightings of sphinx moths and other moths with National Moth Week’s partners!  The fourth annual National Moth Week will be held on July 18-26, 2015. Registration forms will also be published soon.



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“Marvelous Moths”, Jim des Rivieres photos at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum

New exhibit of Moth photos by Moth’er, photographer and National Moth Week’s sponsor Jim des Rivieres. 

White-Dotted Prominent (Nadata gibbosa)

White-Dotted Prominent (Nadata gibbosa) (© Jim des Rivières)

The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum‘s new exhibit, “Marvelous Moths,” will open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the museum’s Wildlife Education Center, 25 Boulevard, Cornwall-on-Hudson (NY, USA).

 Visitors can view gorgeous moth photos from Jim des Rivieres and learn about the moth life cycle, anatomy and how moths differ from butterflies.

Luna moth scan (© Jim des Rivières)

Luna moth scan (© Jim des Rivières)

“Moths are as interesting as butterflies,” said Pam Golben, director of the Wildlife Education Center. “Some moths are masters of camouflage while others are decked out in dazzling patterns and colors.”

Opening weekend specials include crafts, refreshments for kids and “Meet the Animals” program at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

This event is for all ages. Admission is $3; free for museum members. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Jan. 31.  For more information: go to hhnm.org or call 534-5506, ext. 204.    


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Color Moth Pictures for the National Moth Week Website – Kids activity


Kids activity for ages 3-12.


Here’s how:

  • Print and color any moth you like from the book which you can find at this link.
  • Cecropia coloringYou can use a moth guide book (Click here for suggested books) to color the moth whose name is shown or make up your own name with your own colors.
  •  Be sure to write your own name (first name is OK), your age, your town and country.
  • Scan or take a photo of your picture
  • Email your picture to us as an attachment in jpg format at info @ nationalmothweek.org
  • catocalaYou can send up to two colored pictures per child

Children’s colored moth pictures on will be included in a special photo gallery on nationalmothweek.org

You can print the instruction here.

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Did you submit your Moth Week observation?

National Moth Week is working with several organizations to collect moth observation data. We encourage data collection and high quality photographic documentation of moths during National Moth Week for anyone interested in this important endeavorYou do not have to id the species in order to submit photos. It’s never too late to submit your moth data and winter, when it’s too cold for mothing, is a great time to go over your photographs and submit them.

If you participated in NMW 2014 and submitted moth observations, let us know which organization you submitted to.  Please complete the poll that is on the right side menu of the website.   Thank you!


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Project Noah Moth of the Month: Tau Emperor (Aglia tau)

The Project Noah Moth of the Month for October is the Tau Emperor (Aglia tau), spotted by Project Noah member Daniele Pralong in Switzerland!

A male Tau Emperor (Aglia tau) spotted by Daniele Pralong.

A male Tau Emperor (Aglia tau) spotted by Daniele Pralong.

The Tau Emperor (Aglia tau) has a very interesting adult behavior. The males, with larger feathery antennae as pictured above, fly diurnally, while the females only fly at night. Although this may seem counterintuitive for the purposes of mating, mating actually occurs in the late morning. Females hide during the day, and the males “smell” the pheromone-releasing females with the chemoreceptors located in their antennae. This is ironically very efficient, keeping the females concealed from predators while ensuring the successful males are the most physically fit, chemically receptive individuals of the species.


  • Aglia tau.” http://tpittaway.tripod.com/silk/a_tau.htm
  • Pronin, Georg. “The Mating Time of Lepidoptera.” Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 1964. Volume 18. Number 1. http://images.peabody.yale.edu/lepsoc/jls/1960s/1964/1964-18(1)35-Pronin.pdf
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Eric Metzler recieved NPS Award

Eric MetzlerCongratulations to Eric Metzler on receiving a National Park Service award for his moth study and survey in two National Parks. Eric is NMW Science Advisory Board member and coordinator of NMW events in the two National Parks.

Read about Eric and the NPS Intermountain Regional Director’s Award:

On Sept. 26 , National Park Service volunteer researcher Eric Metzler received the National Park Service’s (NPS) Intermountain Regional Director’s Award for Natural Resource Research. This esteemed honor is in recognition of Mr. Metzler’s significant moth research at White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park. In 2007, Eric undertook a study to survey and identify species of moths at these two national park units. Eric’s work exemplifies excellence in advancing and publishing scientific research that furthers the goals of science and natural resource management in the National Park Service.
Metzler received the award because of key accomplishments in the field of research: 1) discovering more than 600 species of moths, 36 of which are new to science, and nearly all of the new species are endemic in the dunes of White Sands; 2) developing a baseline database for moth richness and diversity that helps NPS accomplish the all-taxa inventory goals; 3) providing interpretive materials, seminars and other formal presentations for both local and regional NPS staff; 4) publishing nine scientific papers, and one paper for the general public emphasizing the remarkable endemism of moths at White Sands and 5) volunteering 1600+ hours annually at both parks.
“Eric’s scientific contributions inspire stewardship and collaboration in the spirit of protection, preservation, and improvement of the natural resources of White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park,” said NPS Intermountain Regional Director, Sue Masica.

Metzler Award article 10_8_14ss

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National Moth Week Guest Post: Katie Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath

Katherine Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath are two insightful high schoolers from a science-focused high school in New Jersey. You can track the findings of their experiment—The Effect of Lamp Type on Moth Attraction—in their blog, Of Moths and Mercury.

Idia americalis, a moth found at the mercury vapor setup during Day 4 (May 11, 2014). Photo by Katherine Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath.

Idia americalis, a moth found at the mercury vapor setup during Day 4 (May 11, 2014). Photo by Katherine Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath.


From birdwatchers to butterfly taggers, people everywhere enjoy discovering new things by observing the world around them. Aside from birds and butterflies, there is also a large contingent of moth enthusiasts, commonly called “moth’ers”. The two of us were intrigued when we heard this, as we had never heard of “moth’ers” before. We heard about an event called National Moth Week from our biology teacher, which actually began in New Jersey as a way for “mothers” to get together to collaborate. Our biology class later Skyped with a high school student, Jacob Gorneau, from upstate New York, who was integral to the data collection of Moth Week. He talked to us about citizen science and the impact everyone could have on field science. He said he participates in Project Noah, an initiative to help nature enthusiasts identify plants and animals they spot. Both of us were inspired by his story, because it showed us that we, as freshman students, could help scientists in their research. We are also reading Dr. David Haskell’s best-selling book, The Forest Unseen – A Year’s Watch in Nature, in our English classes. It discusses the beauty of nature, and the intricacy of its workings from a biologist’s point of view. Field studies like Dr. Haskell’s are a major part of our biology class as well. In short, we are surrounded by field science in school, and after Skyping with Jacob Gorneau, we were inspired to propose and eventually conduct this experiment related to moths.

The moth setup we are using for our experiment. Photo by Katherine Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath.

The moth setup we are using for our experiment. Photo by Katherine Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath.

We have already tried attracting moths using moth bait – a mixture of stale liquor, overripe fruit, and sugar or molasses. We were not very successful with this technique. Jacob Gorneau had told our class that he used lamps to attract moths. The type of lamp he used is a halogen lamp, which works by combining a halogen gas with tungsten vapor to produce light. Halogen lamps also produce a great deal of heat. However, Jacob Gorneau told us about using mercury vapor lamps. They work by heating mercury, normally liquid at room temperature, until it vaporizes and ionizes. The mercury then emits light and heat. The major difference between the two lamps, aside from how they work, is the color of light they produce and their lifespan – mercury lamps last much longer than halogen, and produce bluer light. We wish to investigate whether the type of lighting significantly influences the number of moths that can be attracted with each. We created a setup similar to Jacob’s. Each lamp has been placed inside its own tall frame, made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) piping. A sheet was placed around each frame to prevent moths from touching the lamps and dying. Each frame will be put outside at night for two hour periods for two days at four different locations. So far we have sampled at two different locations on a few different occasions. The moth-attracting ability of the two lamps will be measured by comparing the average amount of moths on each setup across all eight nights. Since mothing season had not yet come around when we were doing much of our sampling, we don’t have a large quantity of data as of now. The most recent sampling data, however, shows that there is a significant difference between the moth attraction of the two lamps. The mercury vapor lamp attracted significantly more moths than the halogen lamp. The difference in moth quantities was quite evident, but we need further sampling to make sure that this pattern wasn’t just a fluke. Anjali and I hope to collect more data before we begin our sophomore year at High Technology High School in the fall.

Data observed one evening by Katherine Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath’s faculty adviser.

Data observed one evening by Katherine Bardsley and Anjali Nambrath’s faculty adviser.

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High Park Moth Night, Toronto, Canada

 Guest post by Karen Yukich

High Park Moth Night was held on July 30 this year, after a late-day thunderstorm cleared up just in time. This annual event is co-sponsored by the Toronto Entomologists’ Association and the High Park Nature Centre. Over 50 people attended, ranging from young families to senior naturalists. Moths were attracted with lights and sheets, as well as “moth goop” on trees. Over 60 species were seen – about average for this event – including six underwing species. About 18 species were all-time additions. David Beadle, TEA member and co-author of the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, led the team of TEA volunteers who arranged the setup and provided IDs. Staff from the High Park Nature Centre and Tom Mason (retired curator of invertebrates from Toronto Zoo) provided an introduction to moths.

High Park is a large urban park in Toronto (about 400 acres). About 1/3 of the park consists of nationally rare oak savannah and woodlands. For more information about the park and its natural features, visit www.highparknature.org. A list of current and past Moth Night sightings is posted on the Moths page of this website.

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Project Noah Moth of the Month—Confusing Petrophila

Project Noah‘s Moth of the Month is the Confusing Petrophila, Petrophila confusalis, spotted by Tristan Pragnell! Submit moths to the Moths of the World mission on Project Noah throughout the year to contribute to citizen science and global moth appreciation!

For many moths and their larvae, submergence in water can lead to an inevitable death. However, some moths, notably moths in the family Crambidae, subfamily Acentropinae, are able to live underwater as larvae, feeding on algae and aquatic plants. Moth larvae in the genus Petrophila are gilled, and create a silken shelter to hold on to rocks in lotic, or fast flowing, waters. These moths also pupate underwater, creating a small opening to assist in adult emergence. The adults emerge through the cocoon and can either float or swim to the surface, where they reach the stream edge to dry their wings and fly as adults.


Petrophila confusalis, the Confusing Petrophila. Spotted by Project Noah member, Tristan Pragnell.

However, for females, this is not their last time in the water. After mating, the females of Petrophila confusalis, the species pictured here, form a thin bubble of air to deposit the eggs. The air can last them between four and twelve hours. Females are capable of laying eggs four meters deep, but some skim the surface of the water laying eggs, or crawl along rocks to oviposit on the underside of the rock. The females die in the water after laying their eggs, having made their contribution to the next generation of aquatic Lepidoptera.


Merritt, Richard W., and Cummins, Kenneth V (edited by). An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America.

Powell, J. A. & P. A. Opler. Moths of Western North America. 


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