Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Moth and Me, the blog carnival that serves to celebrate those forgotten lepidopterans, the moths. No more shall they languish in the dark! Now is their time to shine.
For this first edition, I have received a number of submissions from interested users, and I have crawled the web to turn up a few more. Many of these posts date back a few months, or sometimes a few years – after all, it’s wintertime here in the northern hemisphere, and those of us buried under ice and snow are unlikely to have anything current or recent to provide. Nature bloggers whose primary focus is not on moths are also unlikely to have many posts to choose from.
That’s not to say, however, that there is nobody mothing out there right now! Far from it; probably more than two thirds of the world right now is experiencing lovely (or at least passable) mothing weather. Oh, how we Canadians do envy you! In fact, most of the North American northeast and midwest (and, well, pretty much all of northern Canada) still has a couple more weeks left of winter. And although I haven’t checked the weather reports recently, I imagine much of northern Europe and Asia is in the same boat.
So for now, until our snow melts and our own moths start flying, we live vicariously through those whose spring has already arrived, and by taking a look back at seasons past.
Ben Cruachan (the blog) is written by Duncan, who lives in the shadow of Ben Cruachan (the mountain). He writes from Gippsland in Victoria, Australia, where right now they are wrapping up their summer. Ben has a few good posts about moths over the last few months, but his most recent highlights the Old Lady Moth (not to be confused with the North American Old Wife moth), which put a showing in at his moth sheet earlier this week.
Also from that corner of the globe, Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, maintains a blog where they share more of their stories and current events. Of course, summer is the period when most people call nature centres with questions about things they are observing, and there is no exception. They talk about the cinnabar moth, Tyria jacobaeae, a flashy red-and-black species that frequently catches people’s eye.
Soulsong Art is the multifaceted blog of Lyn Weir, who covers the broad spectrum of Australian wildflowers, wildlife and studio art. She recently had the opportunity to observe a captive-reared Hercules Moth – a member of the silk moth family, and as the name implies, the largest moth in Australia, and one of the largest in the world.
It’s not hard to guess where in the world BunyipCo hails from. David lives in Kuranda, in Queensland, Australia, where he blogs about his observations in the rainforest. In this post on ghost moths he discusses the biology of this elusive group of species, and provides photos of the most beautiful blue-green opalescent ghost moth that came to his light.
Denis writes The Nature of Robertson and hails from Robertson, New South Wales, Australia. The hot and humid nights are often the best nights for viewing moths, and he shares with us a number that came to his porch light one such evening, as a thunderstorm passed by to the south.
And last but not least from the great land down under, Lepidoptera Diary records the moth activity of Great Western, Victoria, Australia. Although the subtitle of the blog is “Butterflies, Moths plus other invertebrates found in my garden”, its focus (at least of late) has been entirely moths. My favourite recent post is this one, specifically for a little fuzzy bee-like moth of the Psychidae family.
A little further north we find the blog Moth Mania, which is entirely about the moths of Singapore. Although it has recently fallen silent, the blog posted regular photos of the beautiful moths of this winterless region, such as this Pericallia ricini, a neat-looking tiger moth.
Also in the tropics, Doug of Gossamer Tapestry, normally a butterfly sort of guy, takes us down to Quito, Ecuador, for an appropriately labeled “festival of moths“, where he observes hundreds (thousands?) of amazing and colourful moths attracted to the blacklit sheets they set up. Some of the moths truly are fantastic.
“Across the pond”, moth’ers of the UK are already getting started as spring begins to reach their islands. If ever there was such a place, England would be the homeland of mothing, the country that could lay greatest claim to interest in the activity. It is there that mothing has reached a truly national level, with a National Moth Recording Scheme, a Garden Moths Count and National Moth Night being organized by Butterfly Conservation, and virtually every county having its own moth website.
Speaking of Moths Count, Kitenet, of Buckinghamshire, UK, writes the blog Sweepnet; he was asked to give a presentation at the English moth recorders conference at the end of January on how this group can and is using the web. In advance of this presentation (perhaps in preparation for it) he provides a great list of online resources for moth’ers of the UK (many of which folks in other regions might find useful, too). One of my favourite subheadings of his list is “predictive mothing”, where he provides links to a few websites that offer a list of moths that might be expected to be seen on any given night. I wish we had stuff like that for here! Also check out some of the cool news items he blogs about here.
There are also many more dedicated moth blogs. An example of this is Essex Moths. Ben posts nearly daily, providing the catch totals and a few photos from his mothing the night before. His report for Friday the 13th indicates he got 34 moths that night. That’s 34 more than I did on the same night.
Another UK blog that posts lots of moth results is The Natural Stone. Brian got started mothing in mid-February, when I’m pretty sure I still had a foot of snow in my yard. It’s interesting to see some of the same species groups, such as the Phigalias in the the photo above, appearing in his yard at the start of spring much as I will expect them to be in mine in a month.
Martin, of Martin’s Moths, reports to us from Leeds, UK. Although he’s suspended the blog for the winter offseason, his last post assures us he’ll be back in May. His second-to-last post of last year was recounting the results of a high-altitudinal survey – that is, from an upper-story balcony.
Norfolk Moths is the blog of the website of the same name. Theirs, at least recently, has mostly been a newsy blog, but they offer some interesting tips and highlight intriguing equipment. Such as the Norfolk Moths website formatted and arranged specifically for ease of use as a smartphone (ie iPhone) app. Identification and information at your fingertips!
And finally we come to my home continent, North America. Although mothing as a national pastime has yet to catch on, there are no shortage of moth enthusiasts, or at the very least people with a passing interest in moths. Most of us are still bundled up inside, yet, waiting for the weather to warm up enough to encourage a moth or two to fly. Some lucky folks in the southern part of the US might have the opportunity to moth all year (and some do), and we in the north envy them.
Chris of Coyote Crossing blogs from just such a place, in the Mojave Desert of California. His post shares with us a close encounter of the mothen kind, as he observes the plentiful White-lined Hawkmoths last summer. Frequently diurnal, feeding at the flowers in your garden, Chris encounters his in a laundromat at night.
In a more appropriate setting, Robin, of Robin’s Nesting Place, happened to observe a Hummingbird Clearwing visiting her lantana flowers in her garden in Indiana last summer. These little hawkmoths are quite often mistaken for little hummingbirds, as their flight patterns are similar, but their zippy direct flight often makes it difficult to get a good look at one.
Over at A DC Birding Blog (now located in New Jersey), John takes a moment from his regular birding to share an observation of a dense clump of Gypsy Moth eggs. An introduced species, Gypsy Moths are relatively harmless in small numbers, but in outbreak years they are considered serious pests, as they may severely defoliate whole forest patches.
Clare, who writes The House and Other Arctic Musings, lives on Baffin Island, Nunavut in the remote Canadian arctic. As one can imagine, life is harsh for anything trying to make a living in this environment (the blogger included). Clare describes just how a woolly bear caterpillar manages over its 14 year life before it finally becomes a moth.
A transplanted Brit in Canada, Dave of The Moth Man is the only dedicated moth blog here in North America that I know of (that doesn’t mean there aren’t more out there, just that I don’t know of them). Much of his mothing is done from his home in Toronto, Ontario, but he often gets out to do a little bit at other places, including the family cottage at Portage Lake, where he shares with us a diverse collection of moths.
Although mostly a beetle blog, Chris at Cicindela shares with us the results of his efforts to scan in some of his spread moth collection using an ordinary computer scanner. The resulting image of silk moths is lovely, best appreciated at full size.
Susannah at Wanderin’ Weeta (with Waterfowl and Weeds) writes about just about anything she encounters around her home in the Lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Last winter inspired by a post of mine she had read, she collected up some fluffy cattail heads to look for caterpillars. Sure enough, she found lots. Since the species I had found wasn’t expected in BC, she saved a bunch to see what they would turn into. Well, imagine her surprise when they turned into the species I had found – Shy Cosmet, possibly the first documentation of the species in the province.
Speaking of first records, Carolyn of Roundtop Ruminations discovered a monstrously large moth at her window in Pennsylvania one night last fall. It turned out to be a Black Witch, a southern species that will wander north in the fall, and was just the second record for Pennsylvania, and the first for her county. You just never know what might turn up! There’s so much to learn about moth distribution in North America, virtually anyone could get a rare moth in their own yard.
And finally, from my own blog, The Marvelous in Nature. Although I did catch one moth last week that came to our security light following an unusually warm day, I don’t expect to be truly mothing again until April. In the meantime, I daydream about all the moths I caught last summer, and look forward to their return.
That’s it for the first edition of The Moth and Me. The next one will go up April 15, so make sure you get your submissions in by April 13 to sanderling [at] symbiotic [dot] ca. Hopefully even folks in the colder regions of the northern hemisphere will have a few moths on the wing by then!