July 21-29 is National Moth Week, a good time to enjoy and learn about moths.
Why moths? Because, many moths are extremely beautiful, their life cycles are interesting and moths are some of the most widely distributed and diverse groups on earth – and one of the most diverse groups in North America. Over 10,000 species of moths are found in North America, but even experts don’t actually know how many there may be.
Moth caterpillars are the primary food of many, perhaps most, of our forest-dwelling birds and moths are a vital food for insect-eating bats.
Your grandmother, like mine, may have thought of moths only as those pests that chewed holes in woolen clothing. Your neighbors, like ours, may only think of moths in relation to the gypsy moths that occasionally defoliate vast acreages of oak forests. But only a few species of moths would be described as "pests". So, please take a closer look at the moths that populate a summer night – and, in the case of some species, the day.
And the oddly shaped –
Finally a few of the spectacular moths –
For years I relied on Holland’s The Moth Book to identify moths, but it was first published in 1903 and is long out-of-date. Fortunately, the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America was released in 2012; it has greatly eased the naturalist’s formerly arduous task of identifying many species of moths.
If we turn on an outside light for a couple of hours on any night during the warmer months the moths come and we never know which ones we might find.