Celebrate National Moth Week 7.20-7.28 … and Peterson Field Guide to Moths

Posted on July 27, 2013


July 20-28 is National Moth Week.  For you global citizen scientists, there is a great Web-site with videos and lots of Moth_Week_Logo_website_draft3_LHinformation…. just click here National Moth Week.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, publishers of the new Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, have sent along some ideas for tempting and identifying these fluttering beings which are drawn to your porch light on summer evenings.  Read below for some suggestions from HMH’s recent Nature Newsletter:


Be a part of National Moth Week!

National Moth Week (7/20 to 7/28) is a great time to try mothing! Moths are everywhere, and this information from the Peterson Field Guide to Moths can help you find them. Observing moths can be as easy as turning on the porch light on a warm summer evening and stepping out once in a while to see what might have come in, but a little bit of equipment can greatly increase the enjoyment you take in looking for moths. Here are some basic items that can improve your experience.

The Basics

Light bulbs. While a simple incandescent light might draw in a few moths, the most effective bulbs are ones that project some light in the UV spectrum. A black light is an inexpensive option for attracting moths. Similar in nature are grow bulbs, for plants or aquariums, and bug zappers (make sure you disable the zapper if you purchase one of these!).

White cotton sheet. A light bulb may be set up in front of a wall or other smooth surface that reflects the light and also provides a place for moths to settle. Pale surfaces work best, and a cotton sheet has the additional advantage of reflecting UV rays, creating a broader surface area for attracting moths.

Sugar bait. Some species of moths are not very attracted to artificial light but are nectar-feeders and will come to sugar bait. A particularly effective mixture is to blend one soft banana, a scoop of brown sugar, a dollop of molasses, and a glug or two of beer (flat or cheap is fine). Paint this sticky concoction onto tree trunks with a brush or soak a thick rope (at least 0.5 in./1.25 cm. in diameter, so the moths can land on it) in the mixture and then string it between two supports.

Not all moths are nocturnal. Some nectar-feeders can be seen supping at flowers during the daytime as well. You can encourage day-fliers to visit your gardens by planting nectar-rich flowers, which are often sold at garden centers as being appealing to butterflies or hummingbirds.

Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled while out hiking. The moths that visit your garden plants can also be found on wildflowers. Watch for small pale shapes that rise up out of the grass or off the forest floor ahead of you. All of those moths that come to your sheet at night have to spend the day somewhere; examine tree trunks and bark crevices, rock ledges, and other protected places. Don’t overlook your house and garage—moths can turn up in the strangest places.

PFG moths_hres

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Posted in: Moths