National Moth Week on the Colorado Front Range – guest post by Eric R. Eaton

I cannot speak for all the National Moth Week events in Colorado, but I did participate in three of them, all public gatherings which surprised us in terms of human attendees. The number of moths that visited varied greatly, but a good time was had by all.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park  Photo credit: Bell Mead

Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Photo credit: Bell Mead

The first event was held on June 18 at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, located just south of Colorado Springs in El Paso County. The habitat is mostly grassland with Gambel’s Oak thickets and a scattering of mixed conifers. Park staff arranged for us to set up by the camper services building to draw folks camping in the park, but there was enough publicity that we drew people from elsewhere, too (dare I say “like moths to a flame?”). One family even brought their own lights and sheet. It turns out one of their children raises moths, and dad had to secure interstate permits to legalize the rearing of species not found in Colorado. The Mile High Bug Club sponsored this event.

Once the public portion ended at around ten, Mile High Bug Club folks held an “after party,” visiting illuminated outposts such as restrooms, self-pay kiosks, and the visitor’s center. It is well known that moths are a “gateway drug” to more unfamiliar but no less spectacular insects such as beetles and true bugs. Only the most hardcore, incurable entomophiles get into nocturnal flies, never to be heard from again. Besides additional moth species, plus beetles and bugs, we encountered several scorpions, two “camel spiders” (Solifugae), and a large centipede.

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The Hudson Gardens  Photo credit: Amanda Accamando

The Hudson Gardens
Photo credit: Amanda Accamando

The second event was held on Wednesday, July 22 at Hudson Gardens & Event Center in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Mile High Bug Club sponsored this event as well, but Education and Volunteer Manager Amanda Accamando provided many supplies, fantastic publicity, and volunteer support. It paid off. We had thirty (30) attendees. We set up in the “Hobbit Hole” near a long pond, assuming it would be a natural flyway for moths. Unfortunately, we were instead overwhelmed by caddisflies, which were naturally and repeatedly misidentified as moths. The few moths that did show were interesting species, though, and no one felt the least bit disappointed given the myriad other insects that flew in.

Our finale was a repeat of a private event the Mile High Bug Club held last year in Rock Creek Canyon , west of Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Our co-sponsor was the May Natural History Museum, which boats the world’s largest private collection of insects and other arthropods, open to the public. The museum is complemented by Eagle Campground, though few, if any, campers came to this event. We had the honor of having moth guru Sam Johnson set up his own light stations, and help us paint bait on trees. Glowsticks attached to the trees helped us locate these bait stations after dark. The habitat is a rather mature pine and oak forest, plus grassland up the hill from our site.

May Museum  Photo credit: Bell Mead

May Museum
Photo credit: Bell Mead

No sooner had the sun gone down than in came the moths, plus Ten-lined June Beetles, enormous root borers (Prionus californicus longhorned beetles), and many other insects. Moths that came to the bait did not also visit the lights, and at least one species of underwing moth that Sam collected (Catocala amestris) was new for southern Colorado. Last year, Sam collected Catocala delilah, another unusual species for the region, at this same location. This year, the area is experiencing an outbreak of the Douglas-fir Tussock Moth, Orgyia pseudotsugata, but most were in the cocoon stage when we had our event, so while we did have a fair share of males (females of this moth are wingless), we were not inundated.

I think most of us left these events feeling invigorated, excited, and addicted to doing this again next year, if not sooner. Special thanks should go to Bell Mead for coordinating with personnel at all event locations, securing lights and other equipment, and generally organizing everything. Additional thanks to Brian Kelly and Rick Baker for their assistance, and my wife Heidi for enjoying the same strange experiences that I do.

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Moth Night at the Fell House, New Jersey, USA

Every year New Jersey moth’ers get together for a National Moth Week event the Fell House. In 2015 the annual moth night is being held on August 10th.

Moth NIght 2015 Fell House Flier

Moth NIght 2015 Fell House Flier

 

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Project Noah Fun Fact: Metalmark moths

For every day of National Moth Week, our partner, citizen science website Project Noah featured a fun fact about moths. This is the last day of National Moth Week, but we hope you enjoyed all of the Fun Facts!

From Project Noah:

Metalmark moth (Brenthia sp.) spotted in Sri Lanka by PN user NuwanChathuranga.

Some moths in the metalmark family (Choreutidae), specifically moths in the Brenthia genus, are mimics of jumping spiders in the Salticidae family. You can check out videos S3 and S4 in the references to see trials with jumping spiders and control moths (S3) and trials with Brenthia moths (S4). In the trials with control moths, the jumping spiders readily preyed on the moths. However, with the Brenthia moths, the jumping spider appeared intimidated by the moth, suggesting the Brenthia moths are effective in mimicking jumping spiders.

You can participate in the global citizen science project National Moth Week! National Moth Week 2015 is July 18-26. Visit the website for more information and be sure to register a public or private event! An event can be as simple as observing the moths that come to a porch. During NMW, be sure to post your photos to our website and add them to the National Moth Week mission, Moths of the World!

References:

Rota J, Wagner DL (2006) Predator Mimicry: Metalmark Moths Mimic Their Jumping Spider Predators. PLoS ONE 1(1): e45. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000045 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000045

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National Moth Week today – July 26, 2015

There are 95 mothing events being held in 18 countries today, 82 private events and 15 public events.

As of today there are a total of 414 participants, from 38 countries, registered for NMW 2015.

For more information and to find events in your area check out the NMW map:

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Project Noah Fun Fact: Scales and meaning of Lepidoptera

For every day of National Moth Week, our partner, citizen science website Project Noah will be featuring a fun fact about moths.

From Project Noah:

Saturniid moth, (Hyperchiria sp.) spotted in Brazil by PN user EduardoFrick—a great example of scales aiding in camouflage!

The scientific order Lepidoptera consists of butterflies and moths. The name Lepidoptera has its origins in the Greek language, with “lepido” meaning scales and “ptera” meaning wings. So literally translated, Lepidoptera means scale-winged insects. If you have ever touched a moth and you have a powdery residue on your fingers, these are the scales on moths. The scales have a number of functions essential to the moth’s survival, such as camouflage, wing coupling, and chemical communication.

You can participate in the global citizen science project National Moth Week! National Moth Week 2015 is July 18-26. Visit the website for more information and be sure to register a public or private event! An event can be as simple as observing the moths that come to a porch. During NMW, be sure to post your photos to our website and add them to the National Moth Week mission, Moths of the World!

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National Moth Week today – July 25, 2015

There are 128 mothing events being held in 18 countries today, 78 private events and 50 public events.

As of today there are a total of 407 participants, from 38 countries, registered for NMW 2015.

For more information and to find events in your area check out the NMW map:

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Project Noah Fun Fact: the Luna moth

For every day of National Moth Week, our partner, citizen science website Project Noah will be featuring a fun fact about moths.

From Project Noah:

Luna moth (Actias luna) spotted in USA by PN user ForestDragon.

The Luna moth (Actias luna) is a large North American silk moth that is covered in a lovely soft-green color with long tails on the hindwing. If you have ever seen a Luna moth, you probably can agree they are relatively clumsy fliers. A recent study published in this year suggests that Luna moths use these tails in defense of bats. Bats release sonar, or sound waves, in the process of echolocation to track their prey. However, in the case of Luna moths, these sound waves are interrupted by the hindwing tails, making it more difficult for the bats to track down the moth effectively. (Barber, Leavell, Keener, Breinholt, Chadwell, McClure, Hill, and Kawahara 2015)

You can participate in the global citizen science project National Moth Week! National Moth Week 2015 is July 18-26. Visit the website for more information and be sure to register a public or private event! An event can be as simple as observing the moths that come to a porch. During NMW, be sure to post your photos to our website and add them to the National Moth Week mission, Moths of the World!

References:

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/9/2812

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/luna-moths-gorgeous-wings-throw-bat-attacks-180954281/?no-ist

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National Moth Week today – July 24, 2015

There are 121 mothing events being held in 17 countries today, 73 private events and 48public events.

As of today there are a total of 400 participants, from 38 countries, registered for NMW 2015.

For more information and to find events in your area check out the NMW map:

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Project Noah Fun Fact: Ghost moths

For every day of National Moth Week, our partner, citizen science website Project Noah will be featuring a fun fact about moths.

From Project Noah:

Ghost Moth (Hepialus humuli) spotted in Denmark by PN user Jeannette.

While many female moths and butterflies attract males through the use of pheromores, ghost moths in the family Hepialidae display partial sex role reversal. The males both visually and chemically attract females with their flashy white wings and pheromones while hovering in a display. In addition, females lay their eggs by flying over a stand of the moths foodplants and spraying the eggs during flight. (Mallet 2008)

You can participate in the global citizen science project National Moth Week! National Moth Week 2015 is July 18-26. Visit the website for more information and be sure to register a public or private event! An event can be as simple as observing the moths that come to a porch. During NMW, be sure to post your photos to our website and add them to the National Moth Week mission, Moths of the World!

References:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1096-3642.1984.tb02320.x/abstract

 

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National Moth Week today – July 23, 2015

There are 94 mothing events being held in 17 countries today, 68 private events and 26 public events.

As of today there are a total of 388 participants, from 38 countries, registered for NMW 2015.

For more information and to find events in your area check out the NMW map:

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