celebrating national moth week, after dark

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.

Clymene moth in Copake Falls, New York on Aug. 2, 2012By 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!).

  1. emily says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I’d forgotten about National Moth week and missed it on NPR this year. I’ll have extended family visiting this week and maybe we can do some moth spotting together.

  2. Rosemary says:

    Funnily enough, I wondered what the noise was fluttering at my front door one night all the lights at home were off except for one when I looked up I could see this huge moth the wing span looked like it the size of a large man’s hand and it was a palest pink colour. Just beautiful. It’s been back twice since but I haven’t seen it for awhile.

  3. Carole Clarin says:

    Looks like this is the perfect time to ask my “moth” question. I have a fairly brown and tan moth on my house for at least a week. My husband gently touched it and is convinced it is dead. Any suggestions as to what we should do? Also, does the “sugaring” also attract bears? Two were on my neighbors’ deck 2evenings ago. For your blog fans who have not purchased your latest book, I’m reading it for the second time, according to the seasons, and gaining new information all the time.

  4. Maude Ciardi says:

    There was a Regal Moth outside Our office on the concrete driveway last week. It was just outstanding. Very large , about 4″ without the wing span. Beautiful bright orange , pale yellow spots and stripes on the wings. I have never seen a moth that large or as beautiful. This was in East Palestine, Ohio at our recycling plant!!!.Can you believe that. It was at such a very busy plant. Moths are so interesting. . Was that unusual to be in this north eastern part of Ohio?

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