MY PhD BOTANIST NEIGHBOR, Brian, is setting up the sheet and lightbulb, and brewing the sticky-sweet bait of over-ripe bananas, brown sugar, molasses, watermelon and beer. It’s National Moth Week starting tomorrow (that’s a video from last year’s event, above), and we plan to attract and observe some night-flying moths. That’s what plant nuts like us do in July–so can we interest you in putting up a sheet and putting your support behind this national citizen-science effort, too?
Brian tells me that the thick goop he’s making, to paint on fenceposts and trees as extra incentive, is part of a process called “sugaring,” which he recalls, “I used to do as a teenager in Memphis to draw in more and different moths than are attracted to the lighted sheets.” Good thing I am being tutored in my nighttime debut by an experienced moth-er–and one who has searched for things far more elusive than local moths in our backyards in his long career in enthnobotany.
By day, I’m pretty good at mothing, and have come to know many of my resident species by name and delight in their arrivals. Yesterday, I saw my first clymene moth of the season (above), for instance. (Though most species fly at night, my place seems to be a favorite one for many species to rest by day, and some species fly during daylight, too.) Remember this story from last year, a sort of Moth 101?
Learn about National Moth Week 2013, with a map of all events nationwide (you can create your own, and post it to the list!).