Lepidoptera are estimated to be about 80% moths and 20% butterflies. Although huge in numbers of species, moths, largely nocturnal, have taken a back seat to their typically more colorful diurnal butterfly cousins in our imaginations, enthusiasm, and culture. National Moth Week may be the beginning of our appreciation of our moths — their fantastic appearances (yes, many have stunning colors and patterns), fascinating behaviors and life styles, pollination contributions, place in the wildlife food chain, and conservation status. As appreciators of all Lepidoptera, we are pleased to join National Moth Week’s efforts to bring moths into focus.
During the first-ever National Moth Week, Miami Blue Chapter and Broward County Butterfly Chapter of NABA are celebrating our South Florida day-flying and night-flying moths at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center, Davie, FL. On Sunday, July 29, 2:00 pm, a program on some special local moths, featuring the Tiger Moths, will be offered by Dr. Michelle DaCosta of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Relations. We will learn what they look like and what they’re up to — how they guard against predators, court, feed, and connect to the plants in our yards. We will also get to know some of our colorful day-flying moths and how they go about their lives.
Many of us are avid butterfly and bird gardeners, but rarely think of our gardens as meccas for moths. At our program on July 29, we will identify a selection of “moth plants” for gardeners to consider, with Dr. DaCosta’s help. We hope to “plant” the idea of moth gardening as synergistic with butterfly and wildlife gardening.
Earlier in Moth Week, Dr. DaCosta will set up sheets and lights at Long Key to introduce us to the moth fauna of the nature center: Details of our Moth Week programs will be on our web and web calendar: http://www.miamiblue.org. We intend to have descriptive information to submit from our moth-attracting effort with Dr. DaCosta.
We have the dubious distinction, in South Florida, of being the last stronghold of two federally endangered butterflies, the Schaus’ Swallowtail and the Miami Blue. We suspect that our moths are similarly impacted, but of them, little is known and no public attention is focused on them. The major 2011 release from the USDA Forest Service has a title that is an alarm bell: Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States by Dale Schweitzer, Marc Minno and David Wagner. We are pleased to join the many organizations that have partnered with and are supporting Moth Week and hope that it advances our knowledge and capacity to conserve our moths.