Mothography 101, Guest post by Warren Krupsaw

 

Luna moth

Luna moth

Warren Krupsaw shares his technique and tips on how to photograph moths. Click on the link below to read more.

We all have our cross to bear; mine weighed 23 pounds. Camera on tripod, 4 other lenses, plus all the other stuff a well-prepared nature photographer (landscape & detail) should have on hand. And now, after more than four decades of serious photography, I wanted to ADD to it with the acquisition of a Canon G-9 as a back-up camera? I must be crazy (or so my wife thought).

That was three years ago. Now I’m using a G-11 for ALL my photography and find that it will accomplish approximately 90% of what my weightier, full-fledged system would do without making a bad back worse.

Fooling around with my new point & shoot (I prefer to think of it as “compose & shoot”), I held the camera in one hand and attempted to photograph the finger-tip of my other hand. Lo and Behold, it worked! The finger-tip was in focus so now it occurred to me it could be used to show scale as well as a setting for the proper subject.  Click here to read more.

 

Mothography 101

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Mothing and caterpillar hunting – Guest post by Isobelle Fox

Isobelle FoxI came to moths by the same route the moths themselves do – by way of caterpillars. I have been fascinated by them for years, and they are still the primary domain of my interest in Lepidoptera.

I moved to Massachusetts from Texas in 2014, and I was amazed at the diversity of insects to be found in the woods and meadows here. My weekends have since been filled with long walks during which I have happily and somewhat obsessively photographed thousands of moths, butterflies, and caterpillars among other things.

A gallery of many of these photos can be found here: http://isobellefox.deviantart.com/gallery/

In 2015, I began raising and releasing both butterflies and moths, and it was during this time that I discovered the Caterpillar Lab (http://www.thecaterpillarlab.org/). During a visit to one of the Lab’s public outreach events, I overheard a conversation about “mothing,” and I had a bit of a eureka moment.
Why, after all of the years of photographing moths on various porches and on the walls of convenience stores and other obscure late night locations, had it never occurred to me to actively try to draw them to my own backyard?
It seemed so obvious!
I began my own mothing adventure in the early spring of 2016, with a modest set up: a single blacklight bulb and a bit of curtain cloth draped over a small greenhouse enclosure. I was immediately delighted with the results and spent many, many nights experimenting with different lights. As the nights grew warmer, I observed ever increasing diversity in the population of moths and other insects that would visit my light, and I became more and more interested. I eventually purchased a brighter, larger blacklight and moved my mothing station to the side of a storage shed. With a brighter light and a flatter, larger surface area, my success rate vastly increased. My mothing sessions usually lasted from sundown until around 12 or 1am.
During this time, I also began to make my first attempts at identifying the moths that I was photographing each evening. I gradually found several websites and a few facebook groups devoted to the moths of Massachusetts.
It was, in fact, through these groups that I became aware of National Moth Week and enthusiastically signed up to have my already nightly backyard mothing sessions included in the event for 2016.
For the mothing seaons of 2016, I have managed to tentatively identify 241 moths, though I still have many photographs that are in need of research – something I am enjoying during these long, grey Winter months.
During National Moth Week, I recorded 86 species. Among my favorites were Suzuki’s Promalactis Moth, a beautiful, brightly colored micromoth, and the Large Maple Spanworm, which was easily the biggest moth I saw all year.

1047-1 – Promalactis suzukiella – Suzuki's Promalactis Moth1047.1 – Promalactis suzukiella – Suzuki's Promalactis Moth 7-31-16

Promalactis suzukiella – Suzuki’s Promalactis Moth

6982 - Large Maple Spanworm - Prochoerodes lineola 7-27-16

Large Maple Spanworm – Prochoerodes lineola

I Foxgypsy invasion 7-4-16

I Foxgypsy invasion

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am definitely still an amateur in the often confusing field of moth identification. I do my best and attempt to verify my findings using various rescources in the form of books, websites, and social media groups, but even with the help of those who are vastly more knowledgable, I have no doubt that many of my identifications are erroneous. There are also plenty of moths which simply manage to defy even my best efforts. This is, however,
part of the draw of mothing for me: there is always something new to see and something new to learn!

***

 

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Mothing in Indiana, USA – Guest post by Debbie Goedde

Debbie Goedde is an Adv. Master Naturalist in Evansville, Indiana. She participated in National Moth Week in the past three years. In 2016 she ran a few mothing events:  on July 23 a private event at a for large garden organization at their display gardens. On July 25  at 2 different private events at local homes. On July 27 invitation only event held at a public botanical garden. A planned event on July 29  was canceled due to weather and on July 30 a public mothing event at the wetlands.

To see some of the moths Debbie photographed during the events at a local home on July 25, 2016 – click here.   Debbie shared with us a list of the moths that were identified in the various events.


These are a few unidentified moths – any help to ID is greatly appreciated


On 7-23-16 these moths were photographed at gardens near a busy expressway:

grateful midget moth     celery leaftier moth     chickweed geometer moth

the white-speck moth    Lucerne moth                snowy urola moth

the wedgling moth         Clemens grass tubeworm moth

On 7-25-16 we blacklighted for about an hour at home. Here is a list of identified moths:

catalpa sphinx moth       reticulated fruitworm moth      splendid palpita moth

double-banded grass-veneer moth                                     the wedgling moth

orange-headed epicallima moth                                          basswood leafroller moth

small bird-dropping moth                                                    dead-wood borer moth

white-lined snout moth                                                        drab prominent moth

On 7-27-16 we blacklighted at a large botanical garden:

clemens’ grass tubeworm moth    catalpa sphinx moth

drab prominent moth                     abbott’s sphinx moth

red-banded leafroller moth           common idia moth

grapeleaf skeletonizer moth          the Hebrew moth

American idia moth                        yellow-striped armyworm moth

the Lucerne moth                            waterlily leafcutter moth

grateful midget moth                     small mossy glyph moth

elegant grass-veneer moth           sober renia moth

large lace-border moth                 black-bordered lemon moth

snowy urola moth                          faint-spotted palthis

obtuse yellow moth                        a sparganothid moth

On 7-30-16 we blacklighted at Howell Wetlands:

Ailanthes webworm moth   Isabella tiger moth      Yellow-striped armyworm

Faint-spotted palthis            Delicate cycnia             Lost owlet mot

Black-banded owlet              Bluegrass webworm

Grateful midget                     Waved sphinx moth    Large mossy glyph

Maple looper                         Harnessed tiger moth

Clemens’ grass tubeworm moth                                 Elegant grass-veneer

Yellow-collared armyworm                                        

Either sycamore tussock or banded tussock

Green cloverworm                                                         Celery leaftier

Oblique-banded leafroller                                           Waterlily leafcutter moth

Grateful midget                    Black-bordered lemon

Dimorphic macalla              Large paectus                 Sharp stigma looper

Cherry casebearer

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Registration Now Open for National Moth Week 2017, July 22-30, Celebrating Beautiful Tiger Moths

NMW LOGOOnline registration is now open for the sixth annual National Moth Week, a worldwide citizen science project for people of all ages and abilities to be observed this year July 22 through 30.

This year, National Moth Week will celebrate tiger moths, members of the Arctiinae subfamily of the Erebidae family of Lepidoptera. Tiger moths are found throughout the world and can have striking colors and wing patterns.

Started in New Jersey in 2012, National Moth Week (NMW) invites people of all ages and abilities to learn about and observe moths  by holding or attending “moth nights” or educational programs in backyards, parks, nature centers, museums and anywhere a light can be turned on in the dark to watch nighttime nature come to life.

Last year, more than 450 events were registered on the National Moth Week site in all 50 states and 42 countries around the world. Since NMW began, mothing events have been held in a total of 74 countries on every inhabited continent and major island nations.

Moth-ers can submit their photos and data to NMW’s partner organizations, as well as the NMW Flickr group, which now has nearly 70,000 photos of moths from around the world.

Anyone can register a public or private event or find one to attend in their area by checking nationalmothweek.org for public events. Registration is free to individuals, groups and organizations.

 

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Hide Park (Toronto, Canada) 2016 NMW event. Guest post by Karen Yukich

Each summer the Toronto Entomologists’ Association holds a public Moth Night event in High Park in partnership with the High Park Nature Centre and High Park Nature.

Our event was held on July 28, 2016. As usual there were many micros plus about a dozen male gypsy moths and a few other mid-size moths. The total count was 65 (lower than usual) with 5 new species for High Park.

One new species, Variable Narrow-wing ”Magusa divaricata” is a more southerly species that sometimes strays further north in mid to late summer.

magusa-divaricata-david-beadle-2016

Variable Narrow-wing (Magusa divaricata). Photo credit: David Beadle

 

 The all-time list and other information are posted on the moth page our website highparknature.org 

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MOTH PROJECTOR at Prairie Haven

Marcie and Mike O’Connor, moth’ers from Wisconsin (USA), experimented with a new scheme this year, for their moth party. One of the problems people always have – especially folks who have never looked at moths before – is that moths are hard to appreciate by just looking at them with your eyes. The colors are often subtle, and the designs tiny. So they came up with this idea – to let people see the enlarged photos as they’re being taken. Mike came up with the way to do it, and he’s written out how on a blog page.

Read more

 

 

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6th Annual Mothing at Long Lips Farm, Kansas, USA – Guest Post by Lenora Larson

For the past six years, the Idalia Society (the Kansas City area chapter of the Mid-American Society of Lepidopterists) has hosted a black lighting event on the third Saturday of July at my property, Long Lips Farm in Paola, Kansas. This 27 acre rural area has multiple habitats, including a lake, woodlot, wetlands, pastures and a 2 acre certified butterfly garden. Native plants, especially lepidopteran host plants, have been welcomed and/or planted to promote a diverse population of insects. No insecticides have been used for over 30 years and “clean-up” is minimal, so the property is wonderfully alive with insects, spiders, birds, amphibians and all the other residents of a natural habitat.

 The Event

Insect-lovers are a friendly and inclusive group, so we always invite Kansas and Missouri Master Naturalists, the Kansas Native Plant Society and Master Gardeners from the two adjacent counties. We welcomed over 60 individuals with the usual Kansas summer evening temperature of 85 degrees with 85 per cent humidity and a slight breeze, pleasant for both insects and humans.

Participants began arriving at 7:00 PM with their lawn chairs and a dish to pass for the pot luck dinner.  Since the moths don’t arrive until about 9:30 PM, we relaxed with a sumptuous Midwestern feast, adult beverages and enjoyed each other and the gardens. When the Datura inoxia opened at 9:00 PM to summon the Hummingbird Moths, we set up the light traps.  Being 30 miles south of the city, there is minimal light pollution.

Lenora Larson Datura opening

Datura. Photo: Lenora Larson

Lighting the Way

We always establish multiple locations with long extension cords to power different light sources including two mercury vapor lamps, a pure neon UV and black lights in order to maximize moth sightings. White sheets and my barn’s white door are the reflective surfaces. Incidentally, I turn on my lights most evenings, but since I am ‘early to bed, early to rise’ person, I leave them on all night. Most insect visitors remain on the sheet, so come dawn I can greet and study them at my leisure until they fly away the next evening.

Lenora Larson Black Light set-up

Photo: Lenora Larson

Insect Visitors

This year’s local Facebook and personal conversations have lamented a regrettable paucity of insects, possibly because of our unusually cold wet June. Consequently, we were not surprised that our usual throngs of moths did not arrive.  Of course the always reliable Carolina Hummingbird Moth  and 5-Spotted Hawk Moth  joined us, first on the Cleome and then on the sheet. Other visitors included a Blue Dasher Damsel Fly  and many adorable Tree Frogs.  Hope springs eternal in the entomologist’s heart, so we are looking forward to our annual mothing on the first Sunday in September.  Will they come?

Carolina Hummingbird Moth

Carolina Hummingbird Moth. Photo: Lenora Larson

5-spotted Hawk Moth, photo: Linda Williams

5-spotted Hawk Moth, photo: Linda Williams

Blue Dasher. Photo: Betsy Betros

Blue Dasher. Photo: Betsy Betros

Lenora Larson Tree Frog

Tree frog. Photo: Lenora Larson

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Moth Night at Monte Bello, California, USA – Guest Post by Debbi Brusco

On July 23, 2016, Midpen (Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District) volunteers hosted their third “Moth Night at Monte Bello” during National Moth Week.

Along with docents Debbi Brusco, Jack Owicki, and Sara Witt, naturalist friends Ken-ichi Ueda (of iNaturalist) and Ken Hickman set up four blacklight sheets. After an introduction, docents Jan Hintermeister and Katherine Greene took about 20 people for a short one-mile night hike from dusk to dark. In the meantime, the rest of the group waited for flying treasures to land on the sheets. The hiking group returned at 10:30 to observe what had appeared at the sheets.

Debbi Brusco1

The sheets were set up in the preserve parking lot. One was two-sided (two blacklights) and over the signboard at the south trailhead. The second was at the west edge of the lot with a long party blacklight, the third also west, 30’ down a trail under some oaks, two-sided with a CFL blacklight on the side facing the lot, and a white 2700k CFL then blue LED on the east side, and the fourth was 300’ down a grassland trail, with a blacklight and white light. The grassland sheet got the least number of insects, and the white CFL was too bright, leaking through the sheets and washing out the blacklight, not to mention messing up night vision. The blue LED didn’t really attract much. That site under the trees was very warm.

Debbi Brusco2

The first year, 2014, was the best in terms of insect/moth observations. It was warm, virga was visible in the beautiful sunset, and a surprising number of very large insects showed up—giant water bugs, ten-lined June beetle, and California Prionus. It was also fun to get a black burying beetle with phoretic mites, and a native agile ground mantis. The most surprising moth was a yellow Hesperumia fumosaria. 17 people participated this first year.

In 2015, the weather was cold and windy until 10:00, but some things did manage to show–a white-lined sphinx moth, and a ten-lined June beetle as well as some other moths, once the wind calmed down. Despite the weather, 20 people participated and most went on the hike to warm up.

Monte Bello 3

This year, 2016, was also warm, t-shirt temperature all night. Unexpectedly, there was a waitlist for the event! 25 got on the waitlist, and 25 participants showed up. Some moths that were observed in the previous years were missed. This Nemoria was a first for moth week, and the Ypsolopha canariella was also seen in 2014.

Monte Bello 4Monte Bello 5

Perhaps next year will show another increase in interested participants.

If you’re interested in seeing the observations that were photographed on those dates, here are the ones from 2016: http://tinyurl.com/MBNMW2016 .

Here are 2015: http://tinyurl.com/MBNMW2015 and 2014: http://tinyurl.com/MBNMW20141 .

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Project Noah extends virtual patch availability to August 14

Project Noah is a citizen science project mobilizing new generations of nature explorers and helping people around the world appreciate their local wildlife. The ‘Noah’ in Project Noah stands for networked organisms and habitats. Project Noah aims to harness the power and popularity of new mobile technologies to promote wildlife awareness, collect important ecological data, and help preserve global biodiversity by contributing wildlife sightings in the form of spottings.

mothweek2016

Still have spottings from National Moth Week that you haven’t submitted to one of our partners? Have no fear—Project Noah has extended the availability of the Moth Week 2016 virtual patch until August 14! All you need to do is submit your moth findings to Project Noah’s Moths of the World mission.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Moth Night at the Cairns Botanic Gardens (Australia), Guest Post by Dave Rentz

The first Cairns Moth Night was held on the evening of the 27th July at the Cairns Botanic Gardens with around 76 members of the Friends and the public in attendance.

Moth Week was conceived in the US some years ago as a time to initiate public awareness in the diversity of moths. Since the summer season is the time of greatest insect activity, the week of the 27th of July was selected as possibly the best time because the moon would not interfere. Being it is the Australian winter, one would not expect many moths to show up at light sheets in the southern part of the continent but in Cairns where we have mild winters, and an especially mild winter this year, we can expect some insect traffic at light sheets at any time of the year.

Moth Week has blossomed into an international event with some 42 countries taking part as well as a plethora of American cities all participating during the week.

Our Moth Night was a bit disappointing for reasons only the moths can know! However, there was a variety of other insects that intrigued our visotrs.

We set two sheets at the beginning of the Red Arrow track and in the gully below. We saw a variety of spiders, mantids, wasps, flies, crickets and even a Striped Possum and a Honey Glider.  As a result we will have our November Night Walk along the Red Arrow Track. We will set up a light sheet or two to compare the numbers of moths and other insects with what we saw in winter. Should be interesting so come along and bring a light and camera.


Dave Rentz is a Member of the Order of Australia, 2013 (AM) ; Honorary Fellow, California Academy of Sciences ; Adjunct Professorial Research Fellow, School of Marine & Tropical Biology, James Cook University and Ig-Nobel Award winner: Biology 2011

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