Its a hot, humid, steamy night, totally pitch black outside but the intense sound of fluttering is the only sound heard in the stillness of the night. Those flutters are coming from Hypercompe scribonia, Zeuzera pyrina pyrina, Dyrocampa rubicunda, Eudryas grata and Hemithea aestivaria! Or commonly known as Giant leopard moth, Tiger moth, Rosy maple moth, Beautiful wood nymph and Emerald moth.
National Moth week this year was 7/21-7/29/2018 but the moths I witnessed were at the end of the first week of August only because viewing them had been rescheduled twice due to our excessive heavy rain and thunderstorms in our local area.
Mothing is popular summer nighttime event; all that is required is a white sheet/cloth a black light or if you are a true moth geek and have the budget to own a mercury vapor bulb moths will gather from far and beyond to come towards that particular light. The mercury vapor bulb has a very high intensity UV (which should not be looked into for long periods with the human eye) that attracts moths with great intensity. However, most of us can afford a black light or a normal outside bulb which allows you to search near and/or close to the area where the light is being emitted.
The life cycle of a moth is egg, larva(caterpillar), cocoon, adult moth. What’s the difference between a moth and a butterfly? The most prominent difference is their antennae, a butterfly’s is clubbed and smooth and a moth’s is feathered or fuzzy. Moths are also nocturnal although some are seen during the day such as the hummingbird moth which looks like a hummingbird and pollinates during the day. Most adult moths only live a short life about a week or two because most do not have mouths so therefore they do not eat, because their sole purpose is just to mate and lay eggs once they have reached adulthood. A male moth can smell a female up to 7 miles away, this capability just ensures these creatures mean business in their short lived lives to get things done and with a mission. Moths emerge from a cocoon which is silken wrapped, where as a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis a smooth stretched structure which is a pupa. The moth pupa is found inside the cocoon. See the photo below.
Moths out number butterflies 10 to 1 and there are currently over 11,000 species in the US alone!
The Giant leopard moth spotted was unusual and was a special find and will be documented in a special moth database. The Rosy maple moth was found fluttering in the grass with the Tiger Moth which was a “virgin” its appearance let the experts know it had recently emerged into the world :), the Rosy maple moth loves to eat maple trees and you will always find a moth near the particular tree it likes to lay its eggs and then eat as a caterpillar; it’s appearance looked like a scoop of rainbow sherbet or as if it had been tie dyed, the Beautiful wood nymph moth has outstanding mimicry and fools you in thinking it is droppings from a bird! The Emerald moth was found at the end of our mothing night and was a gem indeed, its beautiful green color was so amazing and was a wonderful find since the other green moth I really wanted to find was the popular lunar moth. It apparently was just was too shy I guess to join the party, so maybe the Grand Dam will show the next time. If you have a walnut or hickory tree in your area she is bound to appear and in all her glory:)
So if you have not tried mothing this summer, give it a try in your night time garden before it gets too cool for these amazing species to dance in the light and officially make you a