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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New moth record in Salzburg

E-MK-24699aE-MK-24699aMichael Kurz of NMW partner NKIS had a new moth record for the Federal Territory of Salzburg during this year’s NMW. The moth, Noctua interjecta caliginosa, was also only the third record for Austria. 

Kurz was not planning on doing any mothing that evening, but decided to do so at the urging of his 12-year-old granddaughter, Viktoria Puchmayr. We’re glad they did it!

E-MK-24699aAustria Kurz




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NPR’s Protojournalist Blog

Hey all, I was featured on NPR’s The Protojournalist blog for my work with Hemaris.

Check out the story here.

Hemaris thysbe nectaring at thistle. (c) Elena Tartaglia

Hemaris thysbe nectaring at thistle. (c) Elena Tartaglia

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Deb Lievens’ Mothing Event in NH

Deb has been photographing moths since the first year of NMW.

Here’s how her event turned out this year:

“The location was Pittsburg, NH (only 25 miles from the Canadian border) near the Connecticut Lakes, the source of the Connecticut River.  We were at a cabin surrounded by spruce-fir forest near wetlands and water.  The weather was good and the moths were abundant. We got a total of 4 Nikons with some good bug lenses going and had a blast. Over two nights, we ended up with 71 species IDed plus 4 found while botanizing during the day as well as 8 unknowns. My regular sites – one in the foothills of the White Mountains and one in southern NH near the Massachusetts line – offered me two more habitats (mixed hardwood-conifer forest and oak-pine-hardwoods forest) which brought my NH species total to 184 species. My best year yet.”

2014 07 25 Pittsburg NH (12) nmw

8942 - Syngrapha rectangula - Salt-and-Pepper Looper

8942 – Syngrapha rectangula – Salt-and-Pepper Looper

11000 - Anaplectoides prasina - Green Arches Moth 2014 07 26 Pittsburg NH (95) cmf nmw

11000 – Anaplectoides prasina – Green Arches

8897 - Diachrysia balluca - Green-patched Looper

8897 – Diachrysia balluca – Green-patched Looper

7824 - Paonias excaecata - Blind-eyed Sphinx

7824 – Paonias excaecata – Blind-eyed Sphinx

11012 - Cryptocala acadiensis - Catocaline Dart

11012 – Cryptocala acadiensis – Catocaline Dart

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Guest Post from Ken Childs

Today we’ve got a guest post from Ken Childs:

Once a year I like to try to photograph one of every moth species seen during one night of intensive mothing. Since it was National Moth Week and conditions were warm and humid on July 22, I decided that would be the night. July 22 is also my birthday and as a bug geek, I couldn’t think  of a better way to celebrate. Usually my first check of the lights doesn’t produce much but when I’d photographed more than 80 species before  10:15, I knew I’d picked the right night for my count!

During the heat of summer, I generally check my lights at 10:00 P.M.11:00 P.M., and Midnight. For this project I added one more check at  3:00 A.M. and ended up photographing 212 species of moths.

Just a few of the moths Ken photographed. Check out his album linked below for many more. (c) K. Childs

Just a few of the moths Ken photographed. Check out his album linked below for many more. (c) K. Childs

Here’s my Picasa album documenting the final results. My goal was to try and get a photographic record of each species so many of these moths were not in very good condition  and I didn’t go out of my way to try and get particularly good photos. This is simply a visual record of what I saw during one good night of mothing.  All photos were taken on my farm here in west Tennessee on 7/22/14 and 7/23/14.

Here’s my main sheet and light setup:

Ken Childs' Mothing Set-up (c)K. Childs

Ken Childs’ Mothing Set-up (c)K. Childs

The top bulb is a 160w MV and it’s right at the outside edge of a shed that I use for hay storage. The sheet is 5 feet inside the shed so it’s mostly protected from the weather. It’s supported on some thin rope strung across the supports of the shed with a pulley on one side to  adjust the tension. On the front of the sheet are 2 x 40w white black lights and 1 x 15w black light. On the back of the sheet are 2 x 13w  CFL black lights. To the right and behind the sheet is a sheet of cheap plywood paneling with the unfinished side exposed and on that I have  a 13w CFL black light and a 15w tube black light. This shed is actually 2 x 20′ carports put end to end and the sides towards the back are  plywood and some old rusty metal roofing panels with lots of gaps which allows plenty of bug access. The wood and rusted metal make for interesting  backgrounds for many of my photos. It’s surprising just how many moths stay at the fringes of the lighted area. There are species that I  rarely find on the sheet but can be relatively common in the back of this shed.

My main moth photo albums can be found here. The majority of the moth photos were taken within 100 feet of my house here near Henderson, Tennessee. As of this writing, I’ve identified 1267 species of moths on my property and have photographs of another 100 or so species that I  haven’t been able to identify, at least not yet. If you are located in eastern North America, please use these albums as a resource to help identify your  moths. I can’t guarantee all the identifications are correct so if you think you’ve found a match, double check the ID on the Moth Photographers Group and Bug Guide.

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NMW gets praise from Fox’s Greta van Susteren

Last year, Greta van Susteren criticized NMW on her blog and we call her out for it in our NMW presentations. This year, Ms. van Susteren has apologized to us!

Here’s a link to a video apology from Greta.

Greta, on behalf of the NMW team, we accept your apology and very much appreciate it! Happy Mothing!

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Anne’s moth cake

Guest post by Anne Geraghty

I was counting down the days to my first chance to attend the Annual Moth Party at Marcie and Mike O’Connor’s Prairie Haven in Buffalo County, WI.  Marcie is absolutely brilliant at everything she does, whether it’s painstakingly restoring a sprawling farmstead to its original prairie/savannah habitat, meticulously cataloging the flora and fauna that show up, guiding nature enthusiasts through her masterwork, or bringing in the uninitiated to spark their appreciation.  And she always throws a heck of a good party, so I was very much looking forward to the fun, people, and food.  I just wasn’t sure about how I was going to contribute to that last one. 

I’m not really an avid cook, but I do sort of enjoy ‘playing’ with food.  I was also trying to think of how I could do something in the theme of the party.  I didn’t expect I’d find much for moth decorations, so I googled butterflies instead and, with a couple of clicks, found this site for making chocolate butterflies.  You can find just about anything on YouTube.  It looked simple enough, so I ran to the grocery store and got almond bark, chocolate flavored almond bark (I guess there’s a tempering issue with real chocolate), food coloring, ziploc baggies and non-stick parchment paper.  Then I went to Marcie’s Prairie Haven site ( and picked some of her most stunning yet not too terribly intricate moths to try.  The first one was the luna moth.  I melted a couple of squares of almond bark and put in just one drop of green food coloring to get a soft green tint.  I also melted one of the chocolate squares to do the details.  I cut and creased some squares of parchment paper and piped out half of the luna moth, then folded the paper over to get the mirror image on the other side.  It came out kind of pretty, but very smudged and swirly – not the sort of detail I’d hoped for.  So I decided I needed to first do just a green moth, then pipe on the details after it hardened.  That worked much better.  I followed up with a white-spotted sable, and then a sort of generic brown moth – the sort that people usually think of when you mention moths.  In fact, someone did comment that the brown ones almost looked real.  They may not have known much about the dazzling array of specimens Marcie and Mike were about to lure in for us after sundown!

My last issue was what to do with my little creations – put them on cupcakes?  Maybe a carrot cake?  (It’s a very organic crowd.)  Or maybe a simple sheet cake?  Hold the phone!  Moths on a white sheet [cake] – that’s it!  So that’s the story of how I came up with the “Moth Cake” that ended up as the potluck centerpiece at Marcie and Mike’s fabulous Moth Party!  I’m sure I’ll do moths or butterflies again sometime – it was really pretty easy.  I encourage you to give it a try!

Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA

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NMW 2014 results from Israel

The Facebook page Arthropods, Reptiles and Amphibians Photography is National Moth Week’s data collection partner in Israel. The page runs a monthly challenge to select three winning photographs from members’ entries. The subject for July 2014 was moths, with no limit on the number of photographs group members could upload. Five group members also registered events with National Moth Week. A total of 260 photographs were uploaded to the moth album during the month — 29 of them during NMW. Moth were photographed from Elat in the south to Mt. Hermon in the north.   Click here to see the moth album.

Winning moth photos in the July 2014 challenge. First place – Theretra alecto. Second place – Utetheisa pulchella. Third place – Hyles livornica.

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Thank you to everyone who participated in National Moth Week 2014

Thank you to everyone who participated in National Moth Week 2014. Whether you attended an organized event or observed the moths in your own backyard, you were part of a worldwide citizen science project that is illuminating the beauty and importance of moths, and collecting valuable data about them.
This year, nearly 500 registrations were received from 42 countries, all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. They represented thousands of local events in a multitude of locations, from National and state parks to museums, from local nature centers to private backyards.

In a few months, we will post registration information for National Moth Week 2015, July 18-26, so start planning your events now!
Happy mothing!

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Little moths show off their colors at Long Key Nature Center

By: Sandy Lanman

The best moths often come in tiny packages. Attending a moth night on a steamy mid-summer evening at the Long Key Natural Area in Davie, Fla., certainly proved this.


Kelli (Long Key Nature Center) and Sandy (National Moth Week)

Administrator Kelli Whitney hosted some 30 moth-ers of all ages and experience at the tropical refuge last Friday night. The event was sponsored by the center, which is run by Broward County Parks, in cooperation with the Broward Butterflies Chapter and the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.

Kelli put up two light setups on the sides of the building, and we also did several walks along a nature trail (look out for spiders!) to the accompaniment of croaking pig frogs (that’s the Florida version of a bull frog). Along the trail, trees had been “painted” with moth bait and Kelli had set up a glass and wood trap with a small light setup that did a great job of attracting moths.

Like any moth night, you have to wait for the best to arrive. And they did – many colorful, small species, along with a beautiful leopard moth. Kelli has identified dozens of varieties on the grounds of the center and had some caterpillars inside. Check out some of the moths we saw (IDs still pending).

Leopard Moth

Leopard Moth



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