Monday, July 1, 2013

2013 National Moth Week - July 20-27

Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) Picture Credit Jen Wetzel
In observance of National Moth Week, fellow citizen scientists will be setting up white sheets and lights on dark porches, city streets, backyards, fields and woods throughout the country and around the globe in order to observe and document one of nature’s most diverse – and misunderstood – creatures.

Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar
National Moth Week literally shines a much-needed spotlight on moths and their ecological significance. There are hundreds of thousands of moth species, many of them as beautiful as their colorful cousins – butterflies – and just as important to the ecosystem. Moths also can tell us a lot about our changing environment by their geographical and seasonal distribution.

White Lined Sphinx Moth on Lantana
Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth. Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species. Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage. Shapes and sizes span the gamut from as small as a pinhead to as large as an adult’s hand. Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen – others fly like butterflies during the day, and some look like hummingbirds. Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark.  Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.

Polyphemus Moth - Antheraea polyphemus

The week-long event allows people of all ages and abilities to become “citizen scientists” and contribute scientific data about the moths they observe in their own communities. In its first year in 2012, National Moth Week attracted participants in 49 states and 29 countries outside the U.S., who registered 307 event locations. Moth events took place in diverse settings, from the streets of Manhattan to remote sites in Costa Rica, Kenya and Gambia.

Tobacco Hornworm Manduca sexta
Numerous organizations around the world have partnered with National Moth Week and are supporting the event. Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, National Moth Week participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth
Partners include Project Noah, Encyclopedia of Life, Discover Life, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Many partner websites are repositories for data and photos about moths and other organisms.

For more information about National Moth Week, and for information on how to register and participate visit

The Blog has several entries on beautiful moths and their caterpillars found in our area. Among them:

Imperial Moth
Polyphemus Moth
Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar
Clear Wing Hummingbird Moth
White Lined Sphinx Moth
Tobacco and Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar


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