National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods. National Moth Week is being held, worldwide, during the last full week of July. National Moth Week offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths. 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.
This year, National Moth Week will spotlight the Sphingidae family of moths found throughout the world commonly called hawk moths, sphinx moths and hornworms.
<![if !supportLists]>§ <![endif]>Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
<![if !supportLists]>§ <![endif]>Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
<![if !supportLists]>§ <![endif]>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.
<![if !supportLists]>§ <![endif]>Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen – others fly like butterflies during the day.
<![if !supportLists]>§ <![endif]>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.
7 Moths that Make Butterflies Look Boring
42 7/24/2013 // By Dani Tinker
I still like butterflies, but let’s be honest, moths need some love. They just aren’t as popular as butterflies, and they certainly should be! Both belong to the large order of insects, Lepidoptera, which refers to the tiny scales covering most moth and butterfly wings. I used to freak out when I touched a moth or butterfly wing because there was a powdery residue. Turns out, that’s the scales rubbing off their wings. Although they can usually still fly, their fragile wings are easily damaged and it’s best to handle with extreme care or not at all.
Moth species dominate the Lepidoptera order almost 10 to 1, with over 11,000 species in the U.S. alone! I chose a few moths to highlight that give butterflies some stiff competition.
#1: Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Is it a bumblebee? A hummingbird? Nope, this magnificent creature is a Snowberry Clearwing moth. It’s one of a few species of moths found flying by day, while most are active at night. They mimic the flight of hummingbirds, hovering to sip nectar. This moth belongs to the family Sphingidae
, commonly known as sphinx or hawk moths. These are some of the fastest flying insects in the world, clocking speeds at over 33 m.p.h.! The two threatened and endangered moths in the U.S. are both sphinx moths. Take a look below if you want to learn more.
The clearwing moth hovers as it drinks, resembling a hummingbird. (Photo by Flickr/vickisnature)
#2: Luna Moth
Luna moths are really freaking amazing. No mouth. Don’t eat as adults. Only live for a week. This photo is one of the Luna moths I encountered while camping in North Carolina. I may have carried it around on this stick for awhile. Don’t judge.
Luna moths are fairly common in the Eastern U.S. near forests. (Photo by Kevin Heath)
#3: Texas Wasp Moth
This species has evolved to mimic paper wasps to protect themselves. Predators that are adverse to wasps will stay away from these moths as well. Pure genius. And easy on the eyes.
(Photo by Flickr: Clinton & Charles Robertson)
#4: Atlas Moth
This species is the largest moth in the world (measured by wing surface area). Female Atlas moths can reach a total wing surface area of over 62 square inches and wingspan of over 12 inches! Imagine those giant flappers headed toward you.
(National Wildlife Photo Contest Entry by Andrea Mosley)
#5: Winter Moth
There are several families of moths with flightless females, including the Winter moth. Notice that the female does have wings, they are just too small to support flight. That must be the most frustrating thing in the world, to have wings, but not be able to fly. Thanks for nothing, tiny wings.
Winter moths mating, the flightless female is on the right. (Photo by Flickr: Jenn Forman Orth)
#6: Uropyia meticulodina
There is apparently no common name for this moth. And no words are necessary. Except that I will now and forever be paranoid while stepping on dead leaves.
The wings of this moth curl to resemble dead leaves! (Photo by Flickr: Shipher Wu
Female Cecropia moths, like many other species, produce pheromones to attract mates. Following this scent can be dangerous for male Cecropia moths, however. Bolas spiders are able to mimic these pheromones and eat whichever male moths show up!
There are two moths officially listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S. The first is the Kern Primrose Sphinx moth, found in California and listed as threatened. The second is Hawaii’s largest native insect, the Blackburn’s Sphinx moth, which is listed as endangered. According to National Moth Week, “for many moth species distributional information is lacking or poorly documented, for others, DNA is clarifying phylogenic relationships and identifying new species.”
Your observations, or citizen science data, is critical to filling in the data gaps and helping moths. Visit the National Moth Week website to submit your observations.
Welcome wildlife into your own backyard! Find the best native plants to attract butterflies to your yard. Then, make your yard an official NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat®!