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
Posted in Moth Identification, Moth Information | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Light Set-Up, Mothing | 2 Comments

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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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

Posted in Data Collection, event, Events, Moth Identification | 2 Comments

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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