National Moth Week (NMW) shines a much-needed spotlight on moths and their ecological importance, as well as their incredible biodiversity. While moths often have taken a back seat to their more admired Lepidoptera kin – butterflies – there is growing interest in their role as pollinators and as a food source for other animals. Scientists also look for the impact of climate change on their numbers and distribution.
During National Moth Week moth-ers will be looking for moth species at hundreds of private and public mothing events.
Anyone can register event or find one to attend in their area by checking nationalmothweek.org for public events. Registration is free to individuals, groups and organizations. Last year, more than 400 events were registered in the U.S. and nearly 40 other countries.
Studying moths can be as easy as turning on a porch light and waiting for them to come, or shining a light on a white sheet in a backyard or park. Ambitious moth-ers also coat tree trunks with a sticky, sweet mixture of fruit and stale beer. Searching for caterpillars and day-flying moths is a good activity for daytime. The NMW website offers tips on attracting moths.
This year’s spotlighted moths, commonly known as underwings, comprise the genus Catocala, which is part of the large Erebidae family. There are more than 250 known species of Catocala, with about half found in North America, while the rest are in Europe, Asia and the tropics. Their dull-colored forewings, serve as camouflage while at rest. However, when they spread their wings, they reveal strikingly colorful hindwings with orange, red, white or blue markings.