Moth Week 2023!

By Joe Sebastiani, Director of Adult Engagement

Welcome to National Moth Week 2023!  From July 22 to July 30, organizers of Moth Week encourage you to get outside, especially at night, and try to observe and photograph moths.  If you take any moth photos, upload them to iNaturalist, or any of the citizen science portals suggested at the National Moth Week website.  This way, your sighting can be a contribution to science, and you’ll help expand our understanding of moth distribution.  Plus, it is really fun!

Moths and butterflies are in the order Lepidoptera and there aren’t many differences between them. They are very similar insects other than most moth species are active at night, and moth antenna never end in a bulb or club like a butterfly.

This Beggar Moth looks a lot like a butterfly. Note the antenna is hair-like and does not end in a bulb like a butterfly.

How to Find Moths

Finding moths is easy, but most are active at night.  During the day, simply walk down a path in the woods or a meadow and see what flushes in front of you. Some moths will perch and allow you to get a close photo. After dark, moths can be seen at your porch light.

This is a Grapeleaf Skeletonizer moth, one of the species active in the daytime.

By walking slowly and looking on buildings or tree trunks, you might see moths hiding during the day.  Many of these species are cryptically patterned, relying on camouflage to escape predation.  If you look closely, you might see some of these.

This Curve-toothed Geometer Moth is trying to hide on a tree trunk. Moths are beautiful insects if you take notice.

Join us for Mothing Night at Ashland

To see a lot of moths, it is best to use an ultraviolet light, mercury vapor light, or special baits to attract them but not everyone has this equipment, however.  This Thursday evening, we will be hosting a Mothing Night at Ashland Nature Center where we will use these techniques to attract moths.  If you would like to attend this program, register here. There will be good photo opportunities, and we’ll be identifying various species that are drawn into several moth stations.

Using an ultraviolet light and a sheet after dark is a great way to see a lot of moth species. Here we are at Ashland in 2022 during Moth Night.

Go Mothing

There is a vast array of moth species, shapes, sizes, colors, etc.  Get out this week or sometime over the summer and see what you can find. Bring your phone or camera to get some photos and share them on a citizen science project like iNaturalist. Discover exciting and beautiful species you never knew existed each time you look. Mothing is a great activity growing in popularity, so join the fun and enjoy moths!